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Author Updates

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Staying in Los Angeles at Hotel Angelino, a former Holiday Inn off the 405 near Bel-Air. Built in the 60’s as round Populuxe style hotel with pie-shaped rooms. Looks like a corn cob. Undergoing face lift by Joie de Vivre hotel chain. Restaurant and health club not open, but staff couldn’t be more friendly. Very cool, modern décor and incredibly relaxing room despite traffic noise from 405 eleven stories below. Great linens, good pillows, curtains open to freeway light show. Ambien. Psyched.

Cloudy and cool, atypical for this time of year. Walked to Getty. Spent several hours wandering gardens, climbing staircases, and making obligatory, disinterested spin through galleries. Oh those. Tough to compete with the architectural splendors. Dinner at café overlooking cloudy city and distant ocean.

Disoriented by circular hallways, walked into wrong room. Either my key worked in her door or her door was open. Whichever. Naked woman sitting up in bed merely smiled and said: “Yes?” Took me a minute to realize I was in her room, not the other way around. After apologizing, I asked her how the free continental breakfast was in the morning. “Adequate,” she said.

Radio interview tomorrow followed by LA Book Festival, followed by press interview, followed by reading. Really hoping I have time for free continental breakfast.

Posted by Stephen @ 12:59 AM EST

Friday, April 28, 2006

Ridiculously crowded flight to Detroit made me think the Airbus idea of a standing room section on planes not totally insane. Leaning against a padded board for two hours might have been preferable to being jammed against window by large person reading Tuesdays With Morrie.

Reading from new novel followed by showing of Object of My Affection at beautiful Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor. All organized by Common Language Bookstore, a small gay bookstore that is one of the coziest and most pleasant bookstores I’ve seen. Warm colors, comfortable chairs, café next door, porn upstairs, big windows. Owners committed and kind.

Unfortunate incident involving a crab cake sandwich at college bar sort of restaurant prior to reading. Got heavy Fancy Feast vibes from smell of crab cake. Don’t especially mind the idea of eating cat food, but they shouldn’t have cooked it first. Sent it back in favor of Thai Shrimp Salad, one of those mulch piles of wilted lettuce, ramen noodles, and itty bitty canned shrimp. Memorably forgettable.

1am in pleasant hotel room on 14th floor, listening to Caetano Veloso singing a samba while headboard of bed in room next door bangs against adjoining wall. Soothing. Drapes open and lights of Ann Arbor streets and downtown parking garages glowing.

Posted by Stephen @ 01:14 AM EST

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Panel discussion tonight at Cambridge Center for Adult Ed on topic of The Comic Novel. Feeling more than usually incapable of intelligent or amusing conversation due to massive exhaustion and possible allergy attacks. Must remember that silence often conveys impression of rich inner life.

Interesting news of Harvard undergraduate paid 500k, at age 17, for two-book deal who copied and otherwise “internalized” portions of recent popular novel while writing her own. Seems a book packager (advisory panel on composition and publicity?) was involved as well. Book packager was obviously overpaid and incompetent. If they’d had any experience or integrity, they would have suggested young author plagiarize from a more obscure or outdated novel.

Heading to Ann Arbor tomorrow and then LA. Massive exhaustion. But possible nice weather. Always sleep best in hotels with curtains drawn tight against blinding sunlight.

Posted by Stephen @ 09:38 AM EST

Friday, April 21, 2006

Train to New York yesterday at 6am. Arrived in city in near heat wave conditions. Supposedly glorious spring weather and maybe it was, but something about that blazing white sunlight in April combined with unseasonable warmth and insufficient leaf cover always depresses me. Too harsh and wearying. Dim the lights, ok? Daffodils. Whatever.

Walked from Penn Station to Upper West Side. April school vacation. Midtown packed beyond capacity with school groups touring the city wearing depressing T-shirts. “West Palm Beach Hearts New York.” Like that. School groups swarming semi-famous “Naked Cowboy” in Times Square for photo ops. Cowboy boots depressing. Very nice ass, though.

Meeting with folks at ABC at 11. Spent most of meeting worrying about dandruff. (Navy blue shirt.)

Walked back downtown through even more jammed midtown. Felt like 85-degrees. Depressed by sight of mobs lined up to get into David Letterman Show. No idea why.

Overdressed, of course. Longed for one of those depressing T-shirts. Trouble breathing.

Train to Philadelphia delayed. Steaming Purgatory atmosphere at Penn Station. Reading at Giovanni’s Room at 5:30. Arrived just in time. Mood: upbeat. Attendance: meager. Why-Bother? factor kicked in.

Arrived at airport at 6:45 for 9:30 flight home. All earlier flights to Boston oversold. No hope of stand-by. 9:30 flight delayed by 90 minutes while the plane was cleaned. Cleaned? Really? Whatever. Spent time reading Edmund White’s uber-honest (I guess, but how would I know?) fantastically graphic memoir. Couldn’t put it down, even while (finally!) walking onto plane. Lots and lots about his weight, the honesty of which is far more shocking than any of the sexual details. Sat next to depressing person on airplane wearing sweat suit with depressing appliqué cats.

Walked in door to apartment twenty-one hours after leaving. All in all, a very good day.

Posted by Stephen @ 09:02 AM EST

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Saw “Friends With Money” the other night with a friend with money. Or at least a lot of real estate. Definitely one of the best movies I’ve seen in the past year. Smart, funny, and touching. Best of all, very little happens. I’m tired of movies in which lots goes on. Plot. Hate it. Why can’t characters have lives instead of plots? In this case, there’s a lot of subtle shifting in relationships and friendships, none of it loud or overdone. When the screen went blank at the end, I was upset; I wanted the movie to last half an hour or so longer.

Bush in Rose Garden says: “I’m the decider and I decide what’s best.” A creepy comment that belong in the petulant-child/temper-tantrum hall of fame. Also, something about the use of the word “decider” grates on my nerves. Plus the use of “THE decider.”

Trying to write a book review of a novel I’m not wild about. Always a bad idea to write a book review while waiting for reviews of one’s own book. A lot of second guessing and magical thinking goes into the process. “If I write a good review of this book, maybe I will be setting up good karma for my own…” Etc.

New York and Philadelphia on Thursday for more readings. Expecting low turnouts. But nice weather.

Posted by Stephen @ 10:55 PM EST

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Visited a friend in hospital last night who had a serious accident while traveling, was flown home on Lear jet, had complicated surgery, and is looking at several months of painful physical therapy and rehab. Her attitude: “I’m viewing it as a weight-loss opportunity.” This will help her get through the rough spots ahead, but brought to mind all those studies in which a vast majority chooses being hit by a truck over gaining 25 pounds.

Today being Easter, lots of stories in the news about former Hitler youth member and current “Pope” addressing his minions from famous balcony. Very helpful comments about hopes for world peace, although no acknowledgement, that I could find, of the fact that said conflicts are almost all due to religion. Also love the calls for racial and cultural tolerance coming from leader of organization that is calling for institutionalized homophobia with laws promoting same. And this from the head of a corporation (let’s face it) that has managed one of the world’s longest running child molestation rings. Someone should do a glossy coffee table book about the “Pope’s” bejeweled outfits. Like that book Liz Taylor did about her diamonds.

Hired housecleaners last week. Spent two hours cleaning before they arrived and several hours after they left touching up the things they missed. Therapy tomorrow morning. Non sequitur?

Posted by Stephen @ 10:33 AM EST

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Two readings in San Francisco, one at A Different Light on Castro Street, another at a Borders on Union Square. Neither a disaster although the crowd at Borders was pretty much hand-picked. Don’t take it personally. My mantra for the year.

Weather hideous entire time in SF. Pouring down rain and socked in with fog. Room at Triton Hotel got smaller and funkier with each passing moment. Smells rising up out of the carpet in the humid air. Wine served gratis in the lobby at 5pm. Walked out of the elevator and into a crowd of happily mingling guests sipping their wine. Reminded me of high school lunch room---the who-am-I-going-to-sit-and-talk-with dilemma. When I noticed someone hired by the hotel was giving tarot readings, I figured enough is enough and left.

Red eye back to Boston last night. A sleepless 5 hours. Had to prepare for reading tonight at Grub Street with Elinor and Mameve. No time for napping. Now it’s midnight and can’t really sleep because very excited about new housecleaners coming to scrub apartment tomorrow.

Posted by Stephen @ 11:53 PM EST

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Reading last night at Elliot Bay Books in Seattle an amiable, unsuccessful event. Many of the streets in the neighborhood were blocked off to accommodate immigration rights rally. Police in riot gear, crowds of up to 25,000 people, entire blocks impassible. Was reminded of something I read in a biography of Jacqueline Susann. A book signing for her first book held on the day Kennedy was shot. No one at the store. “Didn’t you publicize it?” she asked the store owner. “Ms. Susann,” he said. “The president was shot.” A brief pause before she said: “Just my goddamned luck.”

An endless flight to San Francisco due to endless rains here. Now staying in third “hip” hotel of this trip. Hip, I realize, is a euphemism for tiny bathroom. A Kimpton Hotel. Hip chain. Except a chain, so little plastic cards on every conceivable surface explaining the superior services of the hotel and environment-friendliness of the towels. No place to put down my stuff because of all the little plastic cards everywhere. Gives the room a Red Lobster ambiance.

Posted by Stephen @ 07:52 PM EST

Monday, April 10, 2006

Second Atlanta reading, at Outwrite Bookstore much better than first, despite competition from the annual Dogwood Festival and the fact that it was a Saturday night. Lots of people with coolers walking toward the park and having parties on their porches. All of which looked like more fun than visiting a bookstore.

Outwrite, however, one of those dream bookstores. A café, a bookstore, a gathering place, a focal point for some members of the gay community. Met several guys there who stop in Atlanta en route to elsewhere specifically so they can go to the store. Owner could not have been more welcoming or generous.

First question of question/answer period after reading was: “So, how long have you been celibate?” I guess the idea of blending character and author for the sake of readings was a little too effective. I said: “Oh, about six hours.” (Not entirely true.) Second question was: “Do you consider this a self-help book?” Perhaps the title is a mistake. No matter. Very fun and sold some books. (Death of A Saleman.)

Was taken out for drinks afterwards by three exceptionally bright and attractive young men. I fear I disappointed them by ordering ginger ale.

In Seattle now. I suppose more my cup of tea in that it’s chilly and gray. Pleasant overlay of hippie decay and funky thrift shops. Lots of nose rings and knit caps. Doing interview on rock and roll radio station. I see great potential for disaster there.

Posted by Stephen @ 01:41 PM EST

Saturday, April 8, 2006

In Atlanta. Woke up to threats of tornadoes and reality of violent thunderstorms. But extremely comfortable bed in perfectly round bedroom of the oldest hotel in town. Have a suite, which is more room than I need by at least two rooms. A very nice washer and dryer. Really love the washer and dryer.

Last night, for example, an amiable reading at a Barnes and Noble with a standing room only crowd of 7. Was very grateful to those who came and a nice chance to talk directly with a few people. And yet, there was a little feeling of—Was it worth the flight? Returning to hotel room with washer/dyer made all the difference in the world.

Reading tonight at gay bookstore in midtown gay neighborhood, so that will hopefully be better attended. But who knows?

Very amusing piece in Washington Post about Frist’s fundraising.

Posted by Stephen @ 04:52 PM EST

Friday, April 7, 2006

Staying in New York at very designed Hudson Hotel. A lot of people wandering the halls trying to figure out how to get to the lobby and complaining about the darkness. The hallways are overheated and dim with neon tubes tucked above the doors, giving the whole place a lurid sex club atmosphere I find cozy. I like the minuscule bedrooms, too, with their dark paneled walls and tiny bathtubs.

Reading at Barnes and Noble in Chelsea last night was fun and well attended, well organized. In other words, nothing worth writing about. Atlanta should be more of a challenge since I know no one there and both readings are on weekend nights.

New book has gone into a third printing. Not big numbers, but good news even so.

News today about Bush possibly having okayed the Plame leaks utterly unsurprising. Although pretty shocking that it came out now. I hope the news broadcasts were flooded with the clips of Bush making big claims about investigating who is responsible for the leaks, about getting to the bottom of the matter. Turns out he's the bottom. Makes him look a little like OJ, claiming he’s going to go out and find the real murderer of his Nicole Brown.

Posted by Stephen @ 12:10 AM EST

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Have started doing bookstore readings from new novel. Memorized sections of it so I can attempt a more conversational delivery, blurring the lines a little bit between narrator and author in an intentional sort of way. I can’t tell if it’s entertaining or embarrassing.

Reading last Saturday night at Borders in a Cambridge shopping mall a series of amusing humiliations. The store seemed completely unprepared, down to not having any books out anywhere on the shelves. When I asked the interesting young person who’d “organized” the thing why that was, she said: “I’ve been keeping them under my desk.” Oh, okay.

They’d set up a couple of chairs in between the children’s book section and the café. The children’s section seems to function as a kind of unsupervised day care center where parents leave kids unattended. As far as I can tell, all children’s books now play music or “talk” in creepy robotic voices. So there was that mayhem on one side. On the other side were the frapucinno blenders grinding up ice every three minutes or so. There was a mike but no one turned it on, and no one did an introduction or announcement that the reading was beginning, so at one point, I just got up and started hawking the book.

The whole thing was very Death of A Salesman. Felt as if I should have been selling books and used CDs out of the trunk of the car afterwards.

New York tomorrow. At least it's not a Saturday night.

Posted by Stephen @ 08:37 AM EST

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