Goodness, am I really this behind in my blogging? Time-machine, please take me back to September 16! That’s the weekend I flew to New York for a triple whammy of events: visiting my publisher, taping an author video, and doing a group reading at the Brooklyn Book Festival. On the plane ride over, as we were boarding, like the ditz that I am, I accidentally dropped all my things on the floor. I was super embarrassed, as I was completely stopping the line, and people in the back started hissing. One incredible kind passenger wearing a fancy suit actually let me squeeze in front of his knees and compose myself, while he held my stuff. How nice is that? Eventually, I made my way to LaGuardia, where a cab took me to my hotel. The next morning, I headed to the offices of Simon & Schuster, feeling a bit like a character in a Judith Krantz novel. (Yay, Scruples is back on ABC!) Simon (as them folks in the biz call it, or maybe that’s just how Wendy, marketing director, refers to it) is in the most glamorously imaginable location, right in midtown Manhattan, only a block away from Times Square.
The first item of the day was to shoot an author video. It consisted of the video director asking me questions off-camera and me answering them. They actually gave me the questions ahead of time and I practiced in front of a mirror the night before. But as I was practicing, I felt like I wanted to add my own plug, and so when we were done with the Q&A, I asked them if I could deliver, umprompted, a teaser line that I’d come up on my own. That line, much to my surprise, is what they chose to open the video with. You can see the results here.
After the video, I went back to their offices for a catered lunch at the conference room where I got to meet…tcham tcham tcham, the man I call The Wizard. Jonathan Karp. I call him that partly because it’s a campy reference to the Wizard of Oz and I’m just like Dorothy off to meet the Wizard in Midtown Manhattan. But unlike the Wizard in the movie, Karp actually does have magical powers. If you don’t believe me, then see this. Or better yet, see this. Aside from Jonathan, I also got to meet Richard Rhorer, Lauren Monaco, and some other folks. The Today Show had just done a thing on my book a week earlier, so they kinda teased me about that, which was kinda fun. I mean, if you’re gonna tease me about anything, please let it be about the Today Show! I also got to see Wendy Sheanin, who I’d got to hang out with at a pre-pub tour a few months later. (For a flashback about that, looksie here.) I also got to meet the sales reps for the book, including Amy Hoang, Jessica Ko, and Stuart Smith, who were super, super nice. They had all written amazing blurbs for the book, and I was happy I got to thank them. (For those of you who don’t know this, sometimes people in-house will write blurbs for a book, just like those you see in a book jacket.) It was really fun to meet everyone who had worked on the book! In the photo above, you can see some of them: Rebecca Marsh, Sammy Perlmutter, my publicist Tracey Guest, moi, and Amanda. The photo was taken by my agent Lisa Grubka, who unfortunately is not in the photo, but who was a constant and supportive presence all weekend.
I was in town not only for my visit to Simon & Schuster, but also for the Brooklyn Book Festival. Wow. Where to begin? It’s like, Cavalcade of Stars time. I got to see Larry McMurtry (who has a super charming rapport with his collaborator Diana Ossana), and Jhumpa Lahiri, who was unbelievably funny and self-effacing. Also, while I was in line for the McMurtry event (which I had to duck out early from due to my flight), I see none other than Joyce Carol Oates walking in my direction. And we made eye contact! It was one of those moments where I knew, and she knew that I knew, and I knew that she knew that I knew, that in my head, I was going, “That is Joyce Freakin’ Carol Oates, ladies and gentlemen.” She gave me a faint smile as she walked by me. She looks exactly like her book jacket by the way, and those twerps at Princeton are very lucky they get to learn from her.
But first, I was all business that morning, for a panel I was doing with Haley Tanner, Barbara Browning, and Peter Munsford. It was called “Who? New!” and it was about debut novels. Tea Obreht moderated the panel, and she was really great. She’s sooo young, and so talented and gifted, and I wonder what it’s like to go through what she’s going at such an early age. In my mid-20s I couldn’t even figure out how toasters worked, much less write a book this good. I bought Tea’s book and she did something that was so unbelievably charming (and hopefully she won’t mind me sharing): on her dedication, she drew a cute picture of a tiger! Oh, in the words of Rachel Zoe, I die. Afterwards, we signed books, and this one reader was named “Erwin” and I kept mispelling his name on the dedication for some reason. I think it’s because in Portuguese (I’m Brazilian), “e”s sound like “a” and “e” sounds like “i” and there’s really no “i” sound. The photo above is from all of us on the stage.
After my panel, I hung out a bit with my agent and the Simon people who came, including Michele Bove, Amanda, Rebecca, and Sammy. Then, I headed to the Courtroom Hall to check out my friend Patrick Somerville’s reading. Now, while I waited for the event to start, apparently some clever person from the New Yorker thought it would be a clever idea to take a picture of our line, and call it the “hippest of all long lines.” This is from the New Yorker book blog. I’m the third person from the top, and if you squint, you can see my hipness all right, though mostly it’s just me trying to juggle a water bottle with my books, and desperately trying to hang on to my spot in line against ravenous crowds of lit-hungry zombie intruders.
All in all, it was a really fantastic trip. I got to check out early the Jackson Pollock exhibit at MoMA, thanks to my friend Jesse Oxfeld, theater critic extraordinaire and purveyor of museum admissions, and had an awesome dinner at Ma Peche with my friend Wendy Lee. I love New York, and you can hear me rhapsodize more about it here. Ah, New York, you sure do know how to treat writers, don’t you?