Thursday, December 07, 2006

Good News from France

I just got word that the French literary journal LIRE has named UN SENTIMENT D'ABANDON as one of the twenty best books of 2006!

Thanks, LIRE, and once again to all the great people at Albin Michel who made this possible in the first place. Merci beaucoup!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Two Dogs

We've adopted a puppy, Kona! Kona's somewhere between one and two years old, and the prevailing opinion is that she's a combination of black lab and English pointer. She made eyes at us in the Reno S.P.C.A., and we were powerless. She joins our existing dog, Nada (who, I must point out, we did not name), a ten-year-old golden/chow. We were worried about relations between a puppy and a grumpy old dominant dog, but so far the two have become fast friends. Kona likes to swim, so be prepared for shots of the irresistable combination of puppy and Tahoe...

Welcome, German readers!

The German translation of WE'RE IN TROUBLE has hit the shelves, with the title BIS AN DAS ENDE DER NACHT, out from Goldmann...

Rather Ripped

Sorry for the long radio silence--I spent the last part of my summer buried in my novel (which is getting there--sloooowly). But I do want to give a separate post to one of the cooler things that's happened to nerdy ol' me--which was getting to see Sonic Youth on July 4th, and meeting Thurston Moore in the process.

Long story short--I'm writing a story for a Sonic Youth tribute anthology, THE EMPTY PAGE, being put together by editor Peter Wild, and when I mentioned to him that the Youth were coming to Reno, he got me (and my friend and birthday boy Mike Kardos, who flew out from Missouri) backstage.

Great show (in support of the terrific new album, Rather Ripped), and afterward Thurston was gracious and literate, for a guy being bothered simultaneously by a dorky English professor and a group of Reno high school students who'd gotten permission to shoot documentary footage of the band. We talked about Mary Gaitskill; the students asked him what kind of beer he liked. The rest of the band wisely kept out of sight.

So thanks to Peter, for making it happen, and thanks to the Youth, for all the great music--and specifically one wave of feedback so loud it made me sweat.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Nevada Skies

Reason number 564 why I love this place...a thunderstorm at sunset in the desert. The picture still doesn't do it justice.

Friday, June 23, 2006

A Brief Word about Book Purchasing

To amplify a point from my last post below...even though I link to Amazon on this page (because I need sales for my book any way I can get 'em) I should note that, in a perfect world, anyone wanting my book (or any other) would go to the nearest independent bookseller and either purchase or order the book there.

Many of you know my wife, Stephanie Lauer, works for Reno's last independent bookstore, Sundance Books. It's everything a bookstore should be--diverse, staffed with book lovers, friendly--and which so many chain stores are not. And I say this with regret--when I was in high school, Indianapolis's best bookshop was Borders, hands down. But Borders and Barnes and Noble and other big chains have, unsurprisingly, eroded in quality the bigger they've gotten. They've also adopted predatory business practice, using their size in order to receive new titles before independents, and earning discounts the little shops can't.

It's axiomatic in my world that true book people are truly good people. If you think you're the former, please don't reward the huge box stores for their size. Don't use Amazon just because it's a web-click away. Go to an independent and chat with people like Stephanie, who read voraciously, who want to put a good book in your hands themselves, for the love of it. Or if you're in New York City, go see Otto Penzler's Mysterious Bookshop (where I bet he'd be happy to sell you MURDER IN THE ROUGH)...

Don't know a good independent? Check Booksense for one in your neck of the woods.

New Novella, Available Now!

Hello, all. At long last--I can announce new fiction on the shelves!

My novella "His Mission" is included in the Otto Penzler-edited anthology MURDER IN THE ROUGH, available now from Mysterious Press. That's right--a book of golf-themed mysteries!

Those of you who know me will rightly say--But you don't play golf! To which I will answer: No. No I don't.

But I wrote a pretty dark novella for Otto anyway, about golf, religion, unrequited love, and--this was a requirement--murder most foul. And I'm pretty proud of it. Just as I'm proud to be included alongside authors like Lawrence Block, who I've been a fan of for ages...

MURDER IN THE ROUGH! Available at fine independent bookstores now...

Saturday, June 10, 2006

France recap

Home again--where I've been in a jet-lagged coma for a couple of days. But I think my eyes are open enough this morning to write at least a little bit about my trip.

So here goes another gushy post. France. Was. Awesome.

For those who don't know me: I'm a bit of a homebody. It wasn't until a few years ago that I began to travel within the U.S., and prior to last week, the farthest I'd ever gotten from American soil was about ten yards out in the Atlantic. I've waved across a Great Lake at Canada, but that's about it for my worldliness.

So it was with more than a little irrational fear that I boarded the plane for Paris (fresh off watching my friends Mike and Katie married, which certainly helped--and congrats again to those two, who are inspiring). I speak absolutely no French, and prior to this trip I had great difficulty even pronouncing anything in that language.

My fears, of course, were unfounded. Thanks in no small part to all the good people at Albin Michel, and to my fellow writers on tour, but mostly thanks to the very kind and patient folks I met all over France, I had no difficulty at all. In nine days I was transformed from a homebody to a devoted Francophile. I want to learn the language, I want to visit again. And in fact Steph and I might do so next summer.

A bare bones summary: I met up with the other writers and my editor, Francis Geffard, in Toulouse, and from there we circled the country: we hit Montpellier, Lyon and Vienne, Lille, Paris, and then Saint-Malo. (I loved them all, but have a particular fondness for Vienne, the smallest city on the tour--it felt very home-y, and has a wonderful bookstore and readers who gave us our warmest reception of the week.) Louise Erdrich couldn't make the trip, unfortunately, but that meant a lot of very funny, testosterone-heavy bonding with Mssrs. Udall, Chaon, Reid, Treuer, and Doerr. I couldn't have asked for a better gang of fellow travellers, some of whom are old hands at the tour de France.

I didn't have as much time in Paris as the others, but Francis made sure I got to see the sights. I stood under the Eiffel Tower at midnight, and saw Notre Dame, etc. A magnificent city, Paris--but no one needs this blog to confirm that. Still, I was awed by the sheer weight of history over there. I live in a city where "old" means 1870. The bookshop in Vienne looks out onto the pillars of Roman ruins.

But the best part of the trip, hands-down, was meeting French readers, writers, and book people. David Treuer said it simply and best: The French are the best readers in the world. It's true. They read a lot, and they care a lot. I met a man named Christian, for instance, who drove two hours to Vienne to meet me, because he loved my book, and was moved by it. I was, and still am, deeply humbled by the chance to shake his hand.

A country that loves to eat and drink coffee and read--why wouldn't I fall in love?

That's all for now. A big thank-you to Francis and the good people at Albin Michel (and a shout-out to my translator, Michel Lederer, who's obviously doing something right), and of course to Dan, Tony, Elwood, Brady, and David--you guys rock.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Back from New York

It's going to take a long time to process our trip to New York for the PEN awards, and I'll have more to report as said processing occurs. As I said at the awards ceremony--and meant--I still feel like a grad student sequestered in his room, writing for workshop. So how'd I turn into this joker in the suit? How'd I get to a place where I could shake Philip Roth's hand? I'm still not sure. Maybe it's better not to be.

The PEN site--linked to the right--has pictures and audio up from the awards.

Now, though, is the time to say thanks to all the great folks in NYC who made our visit so memorable, especially Thomas Beller (who is not only a really nice guy, but who is also taller than me--seriously, like 6'7"), Heidi Julavits, and Victoria Redel, the judges for the Bingham Award; Joan Bingham and family, who funded the award, and who held a magnificent dinner after the ceremony in the sort of apartment I thought only existed in the pages of Salinger novels; PEN director Ron Chernow and the wonderful staff of PEN, especially Nick Burd; my editor, Ann Patty, and agent, Marian Young, who both shepherded Steph and me around with considerable patience; the incomparable Otto Penzler, for lunch and praise; the terrific memoirist Amy Benson and her husband Douglas Repetto, who spent the day before the awards ably showing off their beautiful city; and my old friend and classmate Shari Goldhagen, for coffee. (Check out the fine books by both Amy and Shari: THE SPARKLING-EYED BOY and FAMILY AND OTHER ACCIDENTS; both their web sites are linked to the right.)

And a shout-out to my old friend Jennifer, who I ran into by accident in the Strand. In a metro area of seventeen million, I saw a pal from Ohio. What a city.

That's all for now. In twenty-four hours I'll be winging off again, this time to Columbia, Missouri, for the wedding of Mike Kardos and Katie Pierce, two of our best friends. And from Missouri I'm headed to France. If I have time I'll post from the road...

Friday, May 19, 2006

Upcoming trip to France

On May 29th I'll be making my first-ever trip overseas, to take part in an author tour arranged by my French publisher, Albin Michel. I'll be joining several other American authors: Dan Chaon, Anthony Doerr, Brady Udall, David Treuer, Elwood Reid, and Louise Erdrich. Some folks have written me, curious about the schedule... and I'm sketchy on the fine details (for instance, I wasn't aware Louise Erdrich would be along until just recently, and I still don't know many stops she'll be present for). But here's what I know of my part of the itinerary:

On Tuesday May 30th, we'll be in Toulouse (Southwestern France).

On May 31st: Montpellier (Southeastern France).

On June 1st: Lyon (Central France).

On June 2nd: Lille (Northern France).

On June 3rd: Rennes and Saint-Malo (Western France), where we will stay three days, and join the Etonnants Voyageurs International Book Festival.

We will be back in Paris on the evening of June 5th, and I'll fly home on the 6th. At each stop there will be readings, as well as meetings with press and booksellers.

If I can come up with more definitive details, I'll post them--soon!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship

I just recently found out that I've been awarded the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship. This is shocking, overwhelming news. (Details and citation are linked over to the right.) I'll be flying to New York this weekend and accepting the award at the Lincoln Center on Monday, May 22. Since I'm likely going to meet any number of people I idolize--not least of whom is Philip Roth, winner of the PEN/Nabokov--I will write all kinds of commentary next week, upon return.

But, any PEN folks reading this--I'm as honored and flabbergasted as any former Hoosier farmkid can be. My deepest thanks.

Greetings (again) and news

Greetings, friends and randomly curious readerfolk!

I'm going to try and make this blog my homepage for a while, since the last one, I think we can all agree, would have been awful even by 1995 standards. (Even this guy's is better.) I tried a blog at this site last year, and failed--but around here we take failure and use it to grow strong, like bull. So: welcome to my blog and homepage, version 2.0. I'll try to keep it lively.