Book Tour Diary Part 2
Lingering along the Atlantic
Sunday, September 18
I wake up in a basement room of a Courtyard Marriott in Decatur, GA. I have not been abducted; I have not been transported here by the witchery of some sorceress. I am on book tour. I arrived here the night before, fairly late, and the day did not really meet the dramatic criteria for journaling. I flew on a plane, I arrived at my destination, I had dinner, I went to sleep. So here we are, basement room, Decatur, GA.
I gaze out the window at the feet of passersby before finally shaking myself from bed and venturing out for food. Decatur, or at least what I’ve seen of it, is a placid, leafy suburb of Atlanta and there is a square just up the street from my hotel surrounding a handsome courthouse. I find a bagelry. I am not the only one to find this bagelry — there is a line out the door. But only a bagel will do on this sunny autumnal Sunday morning, so I wait my turn. It’s a delicious lox bagel and it’s got pickled onion on it and capers and it’s just about perfect. I loll about the square for a moment, aimless, before I head back to the dark confines of my room. I wait out the clock.
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Today’s reading/conversation/signing is hosted by Little Shop of Stories, a fine indie bookstore in this selfsame leafy square, but it is happening at an Episcopal church down the street. At 2:30, a car picks me up and takes me to the venue. To both my driver’s and my confusion, there appears to be two churches here where there should be one. He drops me off at a corner and begin trying the doors. There are many doors to try and they are all locked. What happened to the thing about the doors to houses of worship being forever open? The last door I try is unlocked, which must be some kind of metaphor, and I find myself in the office of the church. A kindly woman behind a desk directs me to a back room where I find two cheerful Little Shop of Stories employees and a table full of my books.
Even though they have set me up to sign these books seated at the table, I insist on the Cranston Method (see Book Tour Diary Part 1). The books are rearranged into stacks and I walk around the table signing them. I feel like I’ve learned a lot about Brian Cranston by following his book signing method. First off, he’s a man who cares about efficiency and time management. Secondly, he must have a very strong back. Mine was starting to ache by the fifth time around the table.
Having finished this task, I have time to kill, so I head out into the warm Southern afternoon. I walk down the street, soon finding myself back at that leafy square with the courthouse. I consider popping into Little Shop of Stories, which feels a little strange, since they are hosting an event for me just down the street, but the store is closed. I return to the bagelry and get another oat milk latte. I hoof it back to the Episcopal Church.
Josh Jackson is there when I arrive; he’s my interviewer for this event. He’s one of the main dudes connected to Paste Magazine, an online purveyor of art/music/movie criticism, and is a super nice guy. We have a brief chat in the green room before we are ushered out on to the altar to discuss scary things for children.
The event goes well, Josh is a great event partner, and the signing line goes by without incident. People are very kind, the people who come to these things. But now it’s 4:30 and I have a flight to catch to NYC, so I bid a fond farewell to the leafy avenues of suburban Atlanta and heave off to Brooklyn.
Monday, September 19
I wake from a less-than-ideal night of sleep. In fact, unless I say otherwise, I am always waking from less-than-ideal sleep. I gauge my surroundings; I am in Brooklyn, at the Ace Hotel. I head down to the hotel restaurant and have avocado toast with a poached egg, which is what you do when you’re at the Ace in Brooklyn and in need of breakfast. I then head out to wander; I walk into the dark heart of Cobble Hill; I buy some sunglasses for Carson at Moscot. I briefly loiter at a game store. I look in a lot of windows; I walk for a long time. I return to my hotel and gear up for the evening’s event. I take a shower; I brush my teeth. Then it’s back down the same streets I’d walked that afternoon, heading to Books Are Magic. The staff there are very accommodating and sweet. I am guided downstairs to the basement to sign books. There is not enough room to demand the books be arrayed for the Cranston Method, so I stand and sign in one place.
My editor, Donna, meets me at the store and after I’ve finished my stock signing, we head out to a nearby cafe for mocktails and oysters. Donna has been my indefatigable editor since the Wildwood days and it’s always nice to catch up and chat about, y’know, the biz. It’s begun to rain and the streets are wet as we leave the cafe; Donna’s red umbrella keeps us dry as we make our way back to the bookstore. There we meet Isaac Fitzgerald, who will be interviewing me tonight. It’s surprising we haven’t met before, Isaac and I, because we have lots of friends in common. I even blurbed one of his books.
Our chat is easy and fun; the questions from the audience are thoughtful. It’s really everything you could want from a book event. I move to the back of the store and sign books and LPs for people. We have a late dinner reservation at a nearby spot and Donna, Isaac, publicist John, and I all head out for pasta and wine. Selfies are taken after the meal, fond farewells are exchanged. I head back to the hotel and watch a few episodes of Dave, a show that Carson and I are both — apart from one another — binging. It’s really good. Then I try to make myself an east coaster and go to bed at a reasonable hour. I am only marginally successful.