Category Archives: publishing

the most fantabulous review in the history of ever

I haven’t been posting lately because I am eyeball-deep in my Romanian collective unconscious document (I should have a complete draft in a few days which will be something like 18,000 words, or about 65 pages).  It’s a whole lot of dreamlike WTF, and after I am done I will have an underlying structure on top of which I will start overlaying the main plot of In the Red.  But–I had to briefly emerge from my blogging moratorium to share with you guys the most fantabulous review in the history of ever, courtesy of Simon Schama at The Financial Times.  I so, so hope that this review is blurbed on the softcover edition of my book.  Actually, here–please vote on which blurb should be prominently featured on the next edition of 13 rue Thérèse:

 

Dear Mr. Schama, I shake your hand.

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My own little scene of Dadaist theater

Developments:

(1) A short & sweet review of 13 rue Thérèse is up at the San Francisco Chronicle. “captivating”  “sizzling sexual tension”  Aw yeah.

(2) Here is the permalink to my entire story “Vicious Good” at Five Chapters.  Hmmm.  I can’t really put it under “Press/Reviews,” so, let me introduce as of today…  Drumroll…  The “Stories” tab!

(3) Hey, guess what you can get at Costco along with a bin of kitty litter, five pounds of ground beef, and 36 rolls of toilet paper?  Meeeeeeeeee:

I’m also going to be at BJ’s, which is like East Coast Costco.  They did a Q&A with me for their featured book of the month thingy which will probably pop up on the web sometime soon.  Also, my publisher just had to do another print run because of a big order from Target.  Capitalism: it thrills me and scares me all at once.

On the drive home from Costco, Pink Floyd’s “Money” came on the radio.  I laughed and turned it up.

(4) This morning I was sitting at an outdoor table with my tea (seriously it’s like 70 degrees during the day–aaaaah February in California), when I watched this guy come around the café with a smoldering cigarette in one hand and a large, germinating potato in the other.  He walked up to a trash can and a potted plant that were next to each other, snuffed out the cigarette and put it in the trash, then lovingly laid the potato into the potted plant. Then left without a look back.  I think what I enjoyed most was how totally natural he was about it.  My own little scene of Dadaist theater.

Let History move, and move well.

“Hey you, you frisky whippersnapper!  You and your newfangled internet get off my lawn!”

The New York Times Book Review

I don’t think the review the NYTBR gave my book was quite curmudgeony enough.  Come on, NYTBR, Max Byrd?  I was hoping you could get Andy Rooney to write up my novel.

Seriously, what a bizarrely ill-conceived match between book and reviewer.  If this dude were a Pokémon, he would be a doddering dinosaur named Crustasaurus with a tattered American flag draped over his back.  His special battle power would be halting progress.

Speaking of progress, I have been thrilled watching the events in Egypt unfold.  I can’t remember anything this wonderful happening on the world stage since Berliners pickaxed their wall.  I hope Europe in 1989 is a precedent for this; I hope this populist freedom movement roars across the entire Middle East.  Let History move, and move well.

Meanwhile, my self-cloistering this week has yielded fruit.  I finished a draft of my dog thing.  Here is a brief sample from one of the non-Gothic parts:

Tom took the fence down.  Bundled the posts and rolled up the wire into the back of his pickup.  Asked me if there was anything else I needed.  I said nothing I can think of yet.

Now the back deck opens up onto a big unobstructed rolling property, with lots of trees.  The winter rains have made it all unbelievably green, the grass almost knee-high.  When I threw wide the door, Sandy absolutely exploded out of it, moved faster than I’d ever seen her move.  The way she runs around out there, I’ve never seen anyone or anything so goddamn happy.  She barks: chase me chase me!  I chase her around a bit, knock her over and she twists and writhes on her back in the grass.  She is all joy and panting pink tongue.  She gets up and runs a ways off and barks again, vibrating with the expectation that I should run after her.  Where does she get all that energy?  Maybe I should have gotten a more depressive breed, like a basset hound.

But no, it must be, she’s good for me.

See what I did to myself writing that?  Now I want a doggie!  Oh, and while I’m here making requests, I also want a T-shirt that reads, “the prudish reader may feel that no bodice on Rue [sic] Thérèse is safe from ripping–NYTBR.”

Sadly, women didn't wear bodices in 1928. Bummer, eh, Max?

Let me leave you with another in my series of marriage samples, which somehow manages to relate to both my encounter with the NYTBR and the Middle East:

– Me, feeling sorry for self: “The New York Times says I suck!”
– Husband, pointing out the obvious: “Well, The New York Times also said Saddam Hussein was capable of gassing North America with unmanned drones.”
– “Hmmm. Good point.”

 

Publication Day: The Beast is OUT.

Here I am between David Sedaris and Anita Shreve in the wilds of my local Barnes and Noble:

While I was dorking out taking this picture, a nice couple stopped by and asked me if I was the author and I said yes and they read the back of the book and then they bought it and then I signed it.  WHOA.  (Signing felt like a minor act of vandalism but I guess I’ll get used to it…)

Much stuff has been happening.  I got to write guest posts for BookPage and 1st Books: Stories of How Writers Get Started.  I’ve been getting lots of blog reviews–I think more than I can keep track of.  My favorite cranky review said that I am a bad, smutty writer like that awful DH Lawrence.  That is the most wonderful way I’ve been insulted, ever!  The crudity of my language is apparently reminiscent of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which was published in 1928–and 13 rue Thérèse is set in 1928, so I feel like I win at life.  I managed to capture that 1928 flavor.  Sweet.

Of course, the reviews that moved me the most were the good ones where it looked like I connected with the readers.  How awesome!  It is why I got into this whole publishing racket in the first place.  So, to all the people out there who enjoyed my book and got something true out of it, I give you a great big virtual hug.

Meanwhile, to keep myself from exploding with the anxiety of all these developments (it’s all very elating but my body is in an undeniable state of alarm, my brain constantly morse coding out this is…  not…  normal… commence…  freaking out…), I have been writing this random Gothic diptych about dead dogs.  I know.  Brains are weird.  I just finished a draft of Part One today.  Tomorrow I will begin Part Two.  Oh–and speaking of short stories, I will have one coming out with Five Chapters next week, which will rock my socks.  It’s a great website: they publish a new story every week, serially from Monday through Friday, so you can go back every day for new content.

Okay.  I am going to go try to not explode.  It’s going to be increasingly hard because I got word that my book is going to be in the New York Times Book Review on February 13 and I am absolutely shitting bricks.  Please please please be gentle with me, unknown NYTBR reviewer…

(I must develop some kind of emotional coping mechanism for this attention I’m getting.  That, or a drug habit.  Whoa, you guys, I just explained all of Hollywood to myself.)

a blue mist

Jonathan Harker may be my favorite dumbass in English literature.  His finest moment comes early in his sojourn in Dracula’s castle.  The count visits him in his room while he’s shaving.  Wolves are howling right outside (“Children of the night, what music they make!”), there is a blue mist creeping everywhere, and when Dracula notices that Jonathan sees that he casts no reflection in the shaving mirror, he shatters it with his mind.

Jonathan’s reaction: oh no!  Now I can’t shave.

I felt a bit like that when I woke up this morning and noticed that there was an uptick in the number of visitors to my blog.  Where did they come from?  The link in my stats read “The New Yorker.”  Surely that couldn’t be right.  I clicked.

My reaction: huh.  Well, this explains the increased traffic to my blog.

Followed by an intense surge of nausea, which is how I react to all strong emotions, especially the positive ones.  So–wow.  That was amazing.  So–this is what it feels like to be caught in the gaze of an animal much bigger than me.  (Hello!  You are a stunning entity.  Please don’t bite.)

Inadvertently brilliant casting, or just brilliant? Discuss.

a new artifact

After practically exploding with impatience after seeing the squeeing from my publisher about how pretty the book is, I have received an actual physical copy of 13 rue Thérèse.  After so many years, it has finally leapt out of my head and materialized.  Here it is, a dream image made real.  Amazing.

My husband is next to me right now, flipping through it like it’s a…  it’s a BOOK.  Holy shit.

It is really beautiful, smashing work on the part of the publisher.  The colors, visuals, texture of the paper, everything.  It is truly the object I imagined it might be.  It even smells nice!

I am going to go around carrying this thing everywhere like a child with a security blanket.  When the whole box of them comes, I will have to celebrate in some cathartic way.  Maybe pile them up on my desk and snort them like Al Pacino in Scarface?  Damn, no: too big to snort.  Pour them out on my bed and roll around naked in them?  Wait–ow–too many corners.  Hmmm.  I’ll have to figure out something.  I can’t believe this thing exists!

Here it is, just-a-existin’:

Other cool stuff: this article on Shelf Awareness about the awesome website, and a wonderful review of the book on Alison’s Bookmarks that made me feel all squishy.  Okay, bye!  I have to go hug my baby some more.

Publishers Weekly cool book stuff!

Today a Q & A with me came out in Publishers Weekly! Yay!  They also gave me a lovely review that I can’t figure out how to get a permalink to, but it is easy to get to from the interview: you just have to click the title of my book in the article.  So, I am excited.  I am also excited about 13ruetherese.com.  I’ve already put in it my sidebar though it still only features a “coming soon” banner.  But when it comes, it is going to be COOL.  The website people are doing a beautiful job.

So, I met a friend for lunch.  She randomly proposed we go to San José to surprise a dude she hadn’t seen since high school who owns a beauty salon there.  I said sure.  We mapped the place with my iphone but when we got there, there was a ballet school where the beauty shop should have been.  We asked the people there where the beauty shop might be.  We were told that we were on North First Street, that maybe the address was on South First Street.  We meandered to South First Street, where we found a beauty shop with a different name that had no entrance.  When we finally figured out how to get in (via the luxury hotel next door), we were told that the other beauty shop did not exist.  We called the phone number we had listed for the mystery beauty shop.  It rang and rang and no one answered.  We turned a corner and there was a carnival.  We rode a Ferris wheel that used to belong to Michael Jackson.

The above was not a weird, meandering dream, but my actual day.  We also got hit on a lot by carnies.