I’m a big believer that touring authors should NEVER complain, so I won’t. Okay, perhaps a teensy cavil: My rental car’s radio simply didn’t work. So — and this may strike you as odd — I bought the original cast recording of “Peter Pan” to keep me company on the drive from Fullerton to San Diego.
I am now determined to memorize Captain Hook’s entire spoken interlude in his eponymous song. (“But perhaps if Cook had less ambtion . . . I’m told when the children play at Peter Pan, the bay-BEE has to play Hook. That’s where the canker ga-naws . . . Bicarbonate of soda, no!”) Look, this could replace Ethel Merman singing “Satisfaction” as the ultimate party trick I never perform.
Bum radios aside, the days continue lovely. I did a luncheon arranged by Mysterious Galaxy for a nonprofit, whose name, alas, is on paperwork checked with my luggage. I then went to hang out at the store, in part because my errors on my website (and they were entirely MY errors) led people to believe I might be there. I met some lovely people and hand-sold a copy of “The Blonde.” Seriously. If “Pistol Poets had been there, I think I could have sold it, too. (We were working off the information that the gentleman liked Hiaasen and Westlake.) I gave away my copy of Beginner’s Greek to the loveliest family, who gave me a copy of my review from the San Diego paper. Again, it’s checked with my luggage, but it was awfully nice and written by one of the best critics out there, Robert Wade. Bless you, and bless the folks at MG, who are so fun and funny and kind.
One leftover note from yesterday. I sat in on Ron Carlson’s session at the Day of Authors and I would give anything to have it on tape or video. One of the best presentations I have ever seen, and that’s not just because I’m a Carlson fangirl who agrees with him on almost everything. I could never do it justice, but I can boil it down to its essence, I think: When you write, banish everyone from the room but your writer self, whom I believe Carlson described as the barefoot savage. No teachers, no parents, no inner editors — everyone must leave. Oh, and don’t turn on your email until your writing day is done. Is there a Carlson cult somewhere here in Southern California? Sign me up. (Oh, and bonus for Beany Malone fans — his story collection references Jim Bridger in the title. And I passed Oceanside en route to San Diego! What was the color of the accents at the motor court? Hibiscus? And if people don’t see that Mrs. Blossom in ATTF is a straight-up homage to Miss Opal, then I despair.)
It was a Carlson story, recorded for This American Life, that helped me face one of my biggest phobias. Last fall, when I had to get on the world’s smallest airplane, I listened to “What We Were Trying To Do,” and the story is so sharp and funny that I forgot it was 110 degrees as we climbed, and didn’t even notice when we landed on a dirt road. This is on the TAL episode called “Fiasco,” which, it just now occurs to me, begins with a piece on a snake-bitten production of “Peter Pan,” so we are full circle and I think I’ll go to Portland.