How did we blow past Thanksgiving already? Is the speeding of time a feature of getting older? Am I going to be on my death bed soon wondering how the hell that happened? The answer is, of course. Sometimes I’m still in a state of dull shock when I realize it’s no longer 1998. Then I look in the mirror at the little furrow between my eyebrows that used to only be there when I woke up in the mornings and my head explodes.
That furrow is a permanent resident on my face now, and will do nothing but deepen. I named that furrow George W. Bush. I have not yet decided which of my body’s signs of aging I will call Dick Cheney. I may be saving that one for something chronic, painful, and insidious, like an ulcer.
But, let’s talk about something brighter than my inexorable decay. Guess what? 13 rue Thérèse was nominated for an award! The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, to be exact. Pretty sweet, no? It’s always lovely to be surprised by a bit recognition from the outside world as I toil in my writerly cave. It gets pretty hermity in here. (I just looked up the correct adjectival form of “hermit” and it’s “heremitic,” but I much prefer “hermity.”)
Speaking of the writerly cave, I did a revision of In the Red over the past couple of months. I am going to give it another once-over, then send it along to my agent. It’s always weird to have another human being read something that’s been simmering sealed away in my head for years. It’s a real passage, and it always comes with a big dose of trepidation. I was once asked by an interviewer about what my greatest fear is when I turn in a manuscript. I said that turning in a manuscript is like trying to tell someone about an intense dream you had: it may just turn out to be incoherent hash and leave you looking like an idiot. Scary, no, when you spend a couple of years and 80000 words telling the dream?
Is that cover sexy, or what? I think I like the purple even better than the red they had on the spec cover. I have yet to see it in person, and I am totally dying to do so. Hurry up and send me my copies, Michel Lafon!
In other news, I am officially a crazy orchid lady. What can I say? They are awesome, for a whole list of reasons:
(1) They are cheaper than a bouquet of cut flowers, plus I don’t have to kill anything to brighten my home.
(2) They are pretty and colorful and, let’s face it, pretty lewd-looking–especially when the bud is first splitting open. Any flower that freaked out Victorians is a friend of mine.
(3) They are low-maintenance lifeforms that somehow manage not to succumb to my black thumb.
(4) The cats thankfully do not seem to be interested in eating them, probably because the orchid is one of the few houseplants that will not poison them! (Huh. I wonder how much of an overlap there is between crazy cat ladies and crazy orchid ladies…)
Here is a little gallery of the new friends I have acquired since I last posted on this blog:
I have been remiss in updating this blog, and generally hermitting. It’s been for good reason! The baby is crowning. If I haul a lot of ass, I will have a full draft of In the Red by the end of of July. If I haul less ass, by the end of summer. Pretty sweet, no?
Meanwhile, some neato news while I hermit:
• 13 rue Thérèse is finally coming out in France in August, from Michel Lafon. Here is the link to pre-order from Fnac, which is like the French Barnes & Noble. Squee! Just thinking of a French edition of my book being in their big-ass store in the Forum des Halles right near where I grew up makes me all tingly! Here is the cover, all tiny because I suck at technology:
I am wee.
• Also, whilst googling myself to see whether anyone on the internet has posted that I like to bathe in the blood of Christian babies, I found this lovely review of my story “Commuting” in Zyzzyva, on Ruelle Electrique, an online literary salon. It’s their “unabashed favorite from the issue!” “A rich story” teeming with “grit and beauty!” How does randomly finding something like this make a writer feel? Why, it fills said writer with hearts and butterflies!
13 rue Thérèse is now out in paperback! With a sexy quote from USA Today right on the cover–rowr. In celebration, I am changing the link on the side of this page. If you click on the cover of my book, it will now take you to the amazon page for the paperback rather than the hardback.
13 rue Thérèse also just launched in Poland! Plus the Italian paperback came out and the cover looks totally different. Check it out:
(Sorry I could not find a larger image! My googlefu is weak. Anyway, saucy, no?)
Short story-wise, I have one out now in The Farallon Review. It’s got dogs! And creepy bad things happen! Do creepy bad things happen to the dogs? Only one way to find out: get a copy of the journal…
In the Red-wise, I just passed the 200-page mark earlier this week. I think that’s probably about two thirds of it. So, this week, instead of Sophomore Novel Angst, I have a case of Sophomore Novel YAY, which is way more fun as syndromes go. Sophomore Novel YAY manifests as an early morning trip to a diner to feast on something called The Volcano. The Volcano is composed of: three giant buttermilk pancakes with syrup, two eggs sunny side up on top, and four slices of bacon. Is this a great country or what?
Yes, I ate the whole thing, and no, I regret nothing.
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:
People of northern California! Listen to me embarrass myself this coming Monday, February 21st at 3 PM! I will be on KPFA 94.1 ‘s Cover to Cover. Live radio, dudes. Yikes! I got a little bit of practice this week being taped for the Stanford Storytelling Project, but they will be able to edit me to sound articulate! So, on Monday I will have to watch for my verbal ticks, such as “um,” and “like,” and “fuck.” (Yes, I have a propensity for saltiness.)
Meanwhile, I am getting published in Italy this week by Garzanti:
They even made a book preview video! I don’t know what it says, but it looks sexy:
Is that something about “saint or sinner?” Sweet. Oh, by the way, the title in Italian means “Private Life of an Unknown Woman.” I don’t know why they changed it, but I don’t mind it. I actually find it really interesting how they translate and market stuff in other countries. I can’t wait to see what the book actually looks like! Not that I will understand it, but I am still excited. I just love iterations of stuff. When the Russians get around to translating it and I see the thing in Cyrillic, I will surely plotz. So cool.
This week I also bought a lovely black dress that will be perfect for author-type functions (first public reading next Friday EEK!). I love the way Calvin Klein skates the line between foxy and austere. (Lest you think I am getting too swank: I bought it at Ross for fifty bucks. This after cashing a very large publication day check. I know, I know: I don’t know how to live it up. But–I did make another one of my giant student loans disappear with that check. That’s right, I AM COMING FOR YOU, STUDENT LOANS. SOON YOU WILL ALL DIE.)
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 and1st 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, thereviewsthatmovedmethemostwerethegoodoneswhereit 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.)