Oh, Hello Mr. Soul I Dropped By
To Pick Up a Reason... Home again, home again, jiggity-jig. Boy, what a summer.

Let's see--those of you who might have followed via random posts or Twitter (find us at Urrealism), know what happened. I abandoned this blog in the middle of the Aspen Wastelanders. Too bad! You never got to see Colum McC in action. But events came on like a tidal wave and carried me far out to sea. (Remember Don Gibson? Sea of heartbreak--lost love, loneliness, memories of your caress.... Man, it's 1962 in my head.) Just wildness and hustle.

So, Book Tour you know about. It was gigs/interviews in Denver, Kankakee, Naperville, Boulder, San Diego, Pasadena, San Francisco, Berkeley, Capitola, Napa, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle, Philadelphia, NYC. Did I miss anything? Gradmna died in the middle of this, when we were supposed to head for DC, and when we were supposed to do Printers Row in Chicago. We did do BEA. If you mix heart-rending funeral with family and book tour, you have a memorable time. I hooked up w Sherman Alexie in NYC, but didn't see him in Seattle. Saw my ol' high school sweetie, Jan, in Seattle, and hung w her goth guitarist daughter, the incomparable Carpathian Roses. Had a wild event in San Diego w 300 people and saw Dear Prudence whom some of you have met in ancient postings here, as well as many old friends and my half-brother's new Filipina bride. Head spinning. Did West Coast Live radio show in Napa and attended Kathi Kamen Goldmark's Rock Bottom Remainder wedding to Sam Barry in SF, then got savaged by the SF Chronicle in one of the greatest personal assault reviews ever, but licked my wounds w the insanity at the Writers With Drinks reading in the Make Out Room. Thank you, Charlie Jane.

It was quite challenging, I will admit. But Tour Discipline prevailed, as well as my training from Nikki Anderson, The Body Editor. Stronger body helped. Then--BAM!--
back home to do laundry and pack the van and drive to Aspen for their writers' conference. Still in shock over Grandma. A week of writing grace and madness and sorrow and joy all in a ball. Then--BAM!--home again, thinking I had a break between Aspen and Bread Loaf. But, oddly, Playboy called and gave me an assignment to go to El Paso and INVESTIGATE the crazy border scene. How do you fail to accept that? So I packed up and went there, stayed with Bobby and Lee Byrd. Wild border madness, long days wandering, poking my nose in where it shouldn't be, looking at Pancho Villa's chopped off finger, crawling thru cemeteries, interviewing politicians, beer at gay bars, rocking out to concerts, hanging w Border Patrol, late night basketball tournaments in the crack hood, getting creeped up on by bad guys at Border Boundary Marker # One across the river.

Got home, wrote like a maniac, packed and went to Vermont. Braed Loaf was, again, but more so this time, a love-fest. I was much more steady this time, knew the ropes. My workshop was called "The Circle of Love." All of them were good writers. My TA/co-pilot was Aryn Kyle, author of THE GOD OF ANIMALS. Cindy was able to stay with me for much of the time before coming hom to get the girls ready for school. We stayed down the mtn from everybody in the delightfully creepy big house known as Earthworm. Old books. Weird noises. One of the dresser drawers had writing inside of it. Life stories written on the wood.

Here's an amazing bit of strangeness. There is a great American poet named Tom Sleigh. I went to high school w a great American hellraiser named Tom Sleigh. We acted together in drama. Turns out, the poet is the high school kid! We went insane when we realized it. Now, here's a kicker--Brigis Pegeen Kelly, the poet, was also there. Her aunt, the famous Mrs. McGinnis, was our drama teacher! Tom and I introduced ourselves to people as "This is my oldest newest friend."

Hummingbird fans will know I have this mojo thing w hummingbirds and dragonflies. Last year, at Bread Loaf, a big fat dragonfly flew up to my face and hovered there, staring at me. When it flew away, I called, "Hey! Come back!" It flew right back and hovered at my face again. Oo-ee-oo. Twilight Zone for Mr. Mystical. This time, I had given out my "This I Believe" piece from the NPR show--dragonflies figure greatly in it--and wouldn't you know it, when I got donw w my reading, a big dragonfly flew into the theater and hovered above me. I am glad I didn't see it--maybe too much for one day. But my students saw it.

But I had to leave early to get to Florida. UF had chosen Devil's Highway as their communtiy read. They ordered nearly 8,000 copies of the book! On the long drive from Bread Loaf to the Burlington airport, I was happy to see a two-humped camel eating hay in a field.

In FLA I had the biggest crowd I'll ever see. 7,000 people. It was a sports arena, full to the top. Four Jumotron screens. Now, if you've followed this blog at all, you know how ghastly the prospect of four of my faces blown up to Godzilla size and leering down at me is for me. Gyaaah! I just didn't look. Don't look, and the bogeyman will go away.

Now I'm teaching.

I am baffled by the whole thing. Grateful for the good, resigned to the bad. Reviews for ITBN have been 90% awesome. A few have been angry that the book isn't Hummingbird or Devil's H. Yo! Joke's on you! I will not write the same book over and over. I found it funny that some critics now suggest Hummingbird (or DH, or--cripes--Across the Wire)are among the best books ever published. Really? Where were you when they came out? You must have been at Knott's Berry Farm or Six Flags riding the roller coasters.

You know what Public Enemy said: Don't believe the hype! It's true. Just write good books (or as good as you can)and read good books (or as good as you can) drink plenty of water, do your sit-ups and take your vitamins. And watche "Mad Men"!

ITBN, I believe, will be a movie and I hope to tell you the details soon. Hummingbird starts filming (allegedly) in January. My Playboy piece comes out in November. The graphic novel of "Mr. Mendoza's paintbrush" drops in early 2010. Now, I'm on Hummingbird II.


XXX, Luigi

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