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Author Updates

Saturday, September 30, 2006

In Montreal since Wednesday doing more promotion for French edition of ATS. First time a French translation has been distributed in Quebec edition. Everything going much better than I could have hoped. So much so, itís hard to find cranky complaints to post here. Interviews and reviews incredibly well organized and orchestrated. Book seems to be selling well. Two live radio interviews yesterday morning, one at the reportedly best national morning show. Kind of horrifying because of the ongoing Language Problem. Had to sit at bank of microphones with very lively, chummy morning hosts in the middle of their schtick and pretend to participate in conversation. Felt a little like I was jumping out an airplane without parachute, but general sense that it was, in the long run, good for sales, combined with total lack of pride about sounding like an idiot, made it tolerable.

Despite ostensible success of book here, the very best thing about the trip has been the hotel room. Staying at Hotel Gault in Vieux Montreal. Building was constructed to house first YMCA built in North America. (Unfortunately, all public showers and similar fun features have been removed--although thereís no shortage of those in Montreal.) Recently converted into chic boutique hotel with exceptionally high ceilings, concrete floors, and wonderfully elaborate bathrooms. All of which manages somehow to be calm and warm. Have had trouble leaving hotel room to walk around Montreal and even to go out for meals. A film crew from France staying at the hotel including, reportedly, Jeanne Moreau. Sat in lobby for a very long time hoping to see her pass by. No luck, but will, of course, tell friends that I was having breakfast and she was sitting at the next table.

Posted by Stephen @ 08:41 AM EST

Thursday, September 7, 2006

On TGV between Monaco and Paris after brief but exhausting swing through Montpellier and Cote díAzur. Arrived yesterday afternoon in Nice. First visit here since I was a student at the university nearly thirty years ago. Was eager--almost desperate--for a flood of memories and attendant melancholy feelings of lost youth and wasted opportunities, recall of old friends and pointless youthful indiscretions in small dorm room overlooking Baie des Anges. iPod was programmed for perfect sentimental soundtrack music.

Had instead the cranky and predictable middle-aged complaints about massive development, confusing road construction, and hideous traffic. Oh well. Monaco itself a blistering muddle of high-rise apartment buildings that block off views of the Mediterranean so you feel at times, driving down the congested streets, as if youíre in a very bright tunnel.

Had been booked into Hotel Balmoral by FNAC bookstore. One of the few remaining traces of old Monaco I noticed. But not remaining for long. Demolition of hotel set for the end of September. A fantastic old place with dark green paint crumbling off the shutters, and the Madagascan consulate in the lobby. Immense bedroom with balcony looking out to the harbor and--clinging to the cliffs across the water--the royal palace. Spectacularly high ceilings and filthy carpets, comfortable beds. Could not have been more pleased with choice of hotel. Imminent demolition lends touching Why-Bother? atmosphere to the whole place. A feeling Iím increasingly familiar with after 50th birthday.

All interviews and such went well despite humiliating lack of control of language. Did perhaps six radio interviews in 48 hours (canít remember exactly) and never quite sure if responses to questions are coherent or comprehensible. Tend to cling to familiar, practiced phrases like bobbing flotsam on rough seas. Swim from one safe sentence to the next no matter what the question. Much depends upon eye contact with interviewer, comfort level, and flattering reassurances of language skills, no matter how unconvincing. Intensity of accent varies wildly depending upon time of day and level of hunger.

Tuesday night in Montpellier a little more difficult. Fantastically well organized bookstore event with exceedingly charming hosts. A respectably large audience, a panel of well-prepared speakers. And yet, overcome with sudden shyness brought on by head cold, lack of sleep, and feeling unworthy of the attention. Sweating heavily into starched shirt.

Had never been to Montpellier before and was utterly charmed by city, climate, food, and people. Ready to move there. For a few months? Heard much about assorted nude beaches but no time to visit. Alas. Most gay-friendly city in France (I was repeatedly told) after Paris. Ancient streets and buildings with surreal beauty and atmosphere of almost tropical languor and calm. View from corner room in small, gracious hotel like a scene from 1950ís Italian movie. Very sweet.

From the set of VERITE OU PRESQUE

Much of last week in Paris a blur. Respectably clear memory of filming last Thursday. Dank basement near Place de Clichy (I think) made to look like smoky jazz club in Montmarte. Space usually rented out for S/M fetish parties, a fact that gave proceedings a sweaty appeal. Sam Karmann(director) energetic and focused. Endless retakes of singer lip-synching her swell recording of the song that will open the movie. Thirty extras in period costumes snapping fingers and persevering with surprising good humor for 8 or 9 hours of one-more-time. Got very attached to hair products applied aggressively by hairdresser early in the day. Assorted goop creating sturdy helmet on top of head.

From the set of VERITE OU PRESQUE

Having finally finished story for Hotel de Crillon magazine, feeling a little more worthy of the paymentóthree nights of luxury, beginning ce soir. Had exhausting three hour interview on Friday (in French only) with magazine editor in basement of Flammarion offices. Unnervingly beautiful and intense woman with wonderful hair. She made ample use of silence which I invariably filled with more personal information that I ever divulge. Oh well, too late now.

Tomorrow promises to be exhausting round of intimidating radio interviews. More swimming. I really shouldnít complain; I could use the exercise.

Posted by Stephen @ 05:57 PM EST

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