Saturday, March 31, 2007

Book abuse

In the New York Times last week, an essay by Ben Schott in which he talked about abusing books*. You know, turning down the corners, leaving them splayed open, marking them up.

I love it when readers of my book tell me their copy is all marked up. I don't consider it abuse. I consider it love.

Although I did loan a friend a brand new book and it was returned to me, abused. Coffee stains, wrinkled. And it made me unhappy.

But I must admit to you here and now: I am a book abuser. An inadvertant abuser.

I left the book that you see on the table on the back patio last summer. I brought it out to Travis who was on the chair hammock and we never brought it back in. I figured others would look at it, namely Brian's guitar students or their parents. It seemed, of all the books I own, the one book that should be available to the public, to kids.

Through the searing sun, through the rain, through the Santa Ana winds and the itinerant cats in the neighborhood, and who knows what else, the book has remained on the patio table. Sometimes it's positioned in such a way that I'm sure someone has been looking at it, maybe even reading it.

I suppose I abused the book, but look how sturdy it is, for a mere paperback.

How are you with your books?

* If you go to the NYT, you probably won't be able to access Schott's essay unless you pay. I found it on this blog, unabridged.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Shameless self-promotion

I was going to write about deleting thousands of emails and how long it takes and then I was going to write about Joan Didion's play, written up in the Los Angeles Times, but then I thought, no, I'm going to plug a few writerly events that I'm involved in.

During the third weekend of April, in New York, the ASJA Annual Writers Conference takes place. A great conference geared to nonfiction writers/journalists, with a bit for the fiction writers and screenwriters, too. Two days at the Grand Hyatt. I'll be there (I'm co-chair this year).

Then, the following weekend is the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, which always takes place the last weekend of April at UCLA. A ton of great panels and lots and lots of books. I'm moderating a Saturday morning panel on women and fiction.

In September, the Central Coast Writers Conference in San Luis Obispo, north of Santa Barbara, takes place. I'm on a couple of panels/workshops and so is one of my favorites, Earlene Fowler. Eric Maisel is the keynote speaker.

Take a writerly vacation. You'll learn something, meet new writer friends, and write it off, too.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Namesake

I love it when a movie stands up to the book. The Namesake does this. I loved the book and I loved the movie. I read the book a few months ago and found it moving and wonderful. The movie was moving and wonderful, too. I've been to India a few times and have had many Indian friends, but even so, even if I'd never been there and had never been immersed in the India community, I think I would have found it all there and not felt that I was missing something. Same thing re: the book. If you haven't read it, you won't find you're at a loss. (Although I would read the book after you see the movie to fill in details.)

I had that experience with Little Children. I loved the book but really didn't like the movie very much at all--and especially didn't like the narration.

In The Namesake, the only thing I thought was off a bit was why Ashok wants to name his and Ashima's child Gogol, but that could be the trouble of my memory and not the movie.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day

This morning Travis and I came out to find this vignette, created by Lonnie the Leprechan (or Brian....)....

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Pet stories

I am a sucker for these sorts of pet stories:

Here a dog and monkey are inseparable.

And here, Nora the cat plays piano.

Okay, back to writing.....

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Freewriting on anniversary

Happy news, now. It's our anniversary. 13 years. Yikes. Not yikes at the number 13 (we married on March 13, believing 13 to be not an unlucky number) but 13 at making it this long. I never even lived in one place this long.

I did a freewriting with my Tuesday night workshop on the words "musings" and "melancholy" and here's what I came up with:
I love holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. This morning I awoke to flowers crowding the dining room table. Brian's doing. Brian likes to celebrate, too. Any reason to celebrate is good enough for him. There were daisies and hyacinths and orchids, lilies, cyclamen, irises and other tiny purple flowers. Thirteen pennies were scattered about the table. Thirteen, for good luck. We were married on the 13th, 13 years ago.

Seven ceramic angels also loitered about. A heart angel and hope angel and wishes angel. Later Brian went out to buy the wisdom angel, which he said he meant to get but didn't, the one with the book, but no wings like the others.

"It looks like your mother," Brian said to Travis over a dinner of kung pao tofu, kung pao shrimp, vegetable egg rolls, and pizza for Travis.

We three looked at the angel, her head down, a book on her lap.

"Why's that the only one without wings?" said Travis.

"Because it's me," I said. That's me, a fallen angel. I have books, but no wings.

Every day should have such propitious beginnings. Melancholy stayed away today.

My friend Mimi said Brian should give classes to men on how to properly celebrate a holiday. Brian's mother says he always been like this. Musing, she said, he's all of the good rolled into one.

Thirteen years. Yikes.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Editors and Predators

Do you know about this site, where you can get the lowdown on agents?

Here it is.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Sylvia Ladeau-Bring 1917-2007

My half-sister, Sylvia, passed away last night. "Passed away..." Those two words always give me pause. Sylvia is so much a part of the reason that I survived my childhood.

We're sitting there--anywhere, the dining table, the sofa--and Brian says, "Why did you sigh?" and I shrug.

I lie along the top of the sofa (it's wide, it's sturdy) like the cats do and stare. A bit numb. Missing Sylvia. Not feeling like doing anything.

Sylvia was older than my mother when I was born, my father's second daughter with his first family, the family that his marriage to my mother broke up. She was half sister, half mother to me. The most upbeat person I know. Or is that knew? When someone dies, does knowing them pass into "knew them?"

Oh, the minutia of it all.

I do know this: Sylvia will leave an unfillable hole in my life. As it should be.

Monday, March 05, 2007


I've let too much time go by without posting.

We're back home, missing snow.

I'm revising Starletta's Kitchen and planning to give a writing workshop at a major insurance company tomorrow for a dozen of its marketing folks.

And I'm keeping watch, via phone and email, on my half-sister back east who is close to death. Sylvia is who I write about at the beginning of the chapter in Pen on Fire called "Using the Ones You Love," the chapter that begins with: "Multiple marriages, remarriages and bigamy run in my family. My dad married my mother while he was still married to his first wife. My half-sister divorced her first husband, married her second husband, divorced him and remarried the first; and when he died, she remarried the second, who had been waiting for her for ten years."

After I sent Sylvia the book, she said she liked it, "especially the part about me."

Sylvia was from my father's first family. She was older than my mother, so you can imagine the jolt to her family when my father, a native Sicilian, left her mother and the family for my mother. Must have been a major drag for everyone involved.

So now Sylvia's in the hospital. I spoke to her the other day. She told me she hoped she would get into heaven.

"If you don't, Sylvia, none of us will."

"I don't know," she said, kinda slurry.

There were a lot of "I love you's" and she then she said, "I'll see you in heaven." So she must have decided she would get in after all. Yesterday a priest gave her Last Rites.