Archive for November, 2007
by Jonathan on November 19th, 2007
So I’m on my book tour.
My reading on Thursday November 8th at the Astor Place Barnes & Noble was a blast – the hometown crowd was somewhat boisterous, people laughed at my jokes, the store ran out of chairs and then they almost ran out of books.
My tour began officially with a reading in Miami at the huge international Book Fair on Saturday the 10th, so the night after my B&N reading I flew down. In honour of the occasion, I flew business class on Delta. And it was a complete disaster. First Delta delayed my 6:55PM flight until 10:40PM (just shy, as I understand it, of the four hour mark, at which point they’d have had to compensate passengers for the delay), putting us into Miami at 2:30AM. Then they lost my luggage. I ended up getting to my hotel well after 3:30AM, pissy as all get out.
I spent most of Saturday rushing around preparing for my reading – made a misguided foray in search of toiletries in the broiling sun, returning to the hotel sweaty and my normally unruly hair sproinging from the humidity, got a new power cord and iPhone hook-up for my MacBook (I’d tossed the cables in my bag, and both computer and phone were dwindling rapidly), washed my clothes in the sink, then sitting on the john slowly drying them with a hairdryer that kept giving up the ghost. The cab for the fair was half an hour late, the volunteers weren’t familiar with the location of the Authors’ Lounge, we got lost trying to find the site of my reading. Long story short, I arrived in physical and intellectual disarray when the other authors on my panel were already seated and the questions about to begin.
The attendance was good, but that was mostly because two of the four writers on the panel were Florida-based – Tim Dorsey and Jeff Lindsay (who does the Dexter books). To my horror, Jeff and Tim did schtick, with Tim even whipping out props. I firmly believe that I can do schtick with the best of them, but I was beat, and sweaty and cranky. I introduced myself and did a straight reading from Precious Blood. It went pretty well – the selection I chose was a bit more intense when read out loud than it had seemed in my head when preparing it.
Back at my hotel, my bags still hadn’t arrived, and hadn’t even been located in Delta’s system – the thought of recycling my travel clothes yet again was really harshing my mellow. I was thinking I’d skip the Authors’ Party at the Raleigh Hotel, but at 9PM I decided to stop being such a wuss, showered and climbed into my clothes again, and headed over. I was just going to do a flyby, but it was a beautiful night, and the crowd was lively, and there was a DJ playing rather gorgeous minimal tribal house while two percussionists built up the texture, so I installed myself on a banquette by the DJ stand and watched the people come and go. I ended up spending much of the evening chatting with the lovely Tina Andreadis from Harper, and later with Jeff Lindsay and Christine Kling.
Despite the exhaustion, the feeling unkempt and unwashed, the desperate shopping and the frazzled reading, it really was a lovely night in Miami Beach.
by Jonathan on November 6th, 2007
Of course, after whining about the bureaucracy of French life last night, this morning I received word that the Syndic has received the scaffolding riggers bid, and has passed it on to the board for consideration. So…
Well, who knows how long it will take, even now, but at least it’s moving!
by Jonathan on November 5th, 2007
I’ve been a Francophile since I first starting travelling as a 14 year old boy, when I discovered how easy it was to hop on a train in London, and get off another in Paris. My First True Love was French, and in medical school I went over as often as I could. I’ve always seen Paris as a place to escape to, a place where I always feel deliriously free. This spring, after decades of dreaming and a year or two of saving, I bought a small apartment in the Marais.
It’s small, but airy and bright, perfectly located for me – I can walk down to the river in just a few minutes. It’s on the top floor of an old building (luckily one of the few in the quarter to have an elevator), and looks onto a quiet courtyard and out over the rooftops.
Since it’s small, I felt that I should try to make it perfect, so I’ve started a gut renovation – the picture above is a Before image, but the After shouldn’t look much different. The beams cleaned and refinished, the walls replastered and repainted, the wiring replaced, the fireplace fixed up, a half-covered window re-exposed and a new bathroom installed.
It went swimmingly until the middle of October, when the workmen pulled off the bathroom wall tiles to expose rot in the hundred-plus year old wooden beams. Now work has ground to a halt, because, you see, I have to deal with the Syndic, a peculiarly French institution somewhere between a managing company and a co-op board.
It’s the building’s responsibility to deal with problems occurring inside the walls or under the falls. The Syndic has seen the rotten beams, the architect has pronounced that they need to be repaired, and so it falls to the Syndic to have the work done. However, since the rot affects beams on the courtyard wall, they will need to put up scaffolding. A rigging company was contacted almost a month ago, but hasn’t delivered its estimate yet. And that’s where we’re at. The Syndic is not considering it an emergency, of course – the wall has been there maybe 150 years, it’s not about to fall down. It’s just that I’m kind of screwed in the process. I had been planning on heading over to Paris after my book tour for three weeks, to settle in, meet with my European editors and start working in earnest on A Hard Death, the sequel to Precious Blood, but I’ve had to cancel the plan.
I’m a little bit discouraged. The project feels like it’s threatening to turn into a money pit, but also the challenges of trying to visit my place over there have been magnified. Y’see, that’s the problem – time, time, there’s never enough time. People have always asked me how I managed to get so much done, and the answer is that I’m always working. But now I’m really beginning to feel the strain. This year and next, I’m cutting way back on my freelance writing; being an ME and a novelist is more than enough.
At least for now.
What a whiny post! I’ll be cheerier later. Particularly once the bloody Syndic gets its act together…