I wrote one of those gosh-darned memoirs just to get attention

…so I sure am glad to get it in your slightly curmudgeonly New York Times article, sir!

Here is the brief mention:

Canvassing the publishers’ catalogs, I was intrigued to see “All in My Head,” by Paula Kamen. It’s about a headache the author has been carrying around for more than a decade. It will do battle on the bookstore shelves with, among many others, “Fat Girl,” by Judith Moore, a memoir of growing up fat and female, which in turn will compete with another fat-girl memoir, “I’m Not the New Me,” by Wendy McClure, which will square off against “Faith in Carlos Gomez: A Memoir of Salsa, Sex, and Salvation,” by Samantha Dunn, who found a new way of life, and a book topic, when she signed up for dance lessons. Then there’s “House,” by Michael Ruhlman. It’s about a house. Is there not something to be said for the unexamined life?

Maybe, but if you had a headache for fifteen years? You’d sure as hell want to examine that. I’m just saying.

Golden nuggets of bloggy

Somewhere in INTNM I mention the fact that there are an awful lot of “Golden” restaurants in the Chicago area–24-hour or late-night places that have the word golden in their name, big breakfast menus, and deceptively tasty-looking pies, so it’s nice to see that someone else has noticed this phenomenon and is compiling a list of them. I was very happy to contribute the overlooked Golden Flame Restaurant to the list and share my crazy theories as to what makes a restaurant truly Golden.

I have been instructed to avoid climbing any ladders in the warehouse at work today, because a co-worker dreamt that I would break a finger on one. I don’t know if I like it when people have dreams about me. Then again, this co-worker is reading my book right now, and maybe I am part of the mental lint in her subconscious that gets tossed around at night. Still, I guess I’ll stay away from ladders. It’s not like I’ve never needed to climb a ladder in the warehouse before, but you never know; at this job we have the most bizarre workplace hazards EVER. Like right now we have to worry about getting attacked by geese in the parking lot. And once, a now-former employee got kicked by a baby deer that wandered into the parking lot, but I guess it was partly her fault for trying to pick it up. You’d think being a children’s book publisher would make our encounters with woodland animals friendlier, but this is really not the case.

I don’t know how long New York Newsday keeps their articles online, so I guess I ought to link to this nice review.

The INTNM tour

Here is the schedule so far. It’s the first time I’ve seen it all together in a list and it makes me a little woozy.

When posting your comments please keep the following in mind: 1.) I will likely add a few more places to this list. Eventually. Just because a certain city isn’t listed doesn’t mean I’m not interested in reading there. Part of this schedule was built around a couple of business trips. 2.) I’m committed to the dates and bookstores listed here, and please also keep in mind that adding another event in the same city isn’t a simple matter, since you don’t want to make bookstores compete with each other for the same crowds. 3.) I listed the nearest major metropolitan area, so, yeah, I know that the Seattle readings aren’t in Seattle proper, etc. 4.) These events were set up by people who know better than I do about these things, like my publicist at Riverhead and the bookstore reps. Finally, this list doesn’t include any group reading events, bar readings, karaoke performances, or variety show puppet acts, but there will likely be at least a couple of those, too, at some point. Whew. Okay:

Wednesday, April 27: Chicago, IL
7:30 PM at Women & Children First

Monday, May 2: Seattle, WA
6:00 PM at University Bookstore, Bellevue

Tuesday, May 3: Seattle
7:00 PM at Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park

Wednesday, May 4: Portland, OR
7:30 PM at Powell�s

Thursday, May 12: Chicago
7:30 PM at Barnes & Noble Webster Place

Friday, May 20: Boston, MA
I don’t have all the info on this yet, but the plan is for a lunchtime event at the downtown Borders.

Tuesday, May 24: New York, NY
7:00 pm at Barnes & Noble Astor Place

Wednesday, June 8: Milwaukee, WI
7:00 PM at Harry W. Schwartz Books, Shorewood

Thursday, June 9: Madison, WI
7:00 PM at Barnes & Noble East Towne

Thursday, June 16: Chicago
7:30 PM at Barbara’s Bookstore, Oak Park

Wednesday, June 22: Los Angeles, CA
7:00 PM at Dutton’s Brentwood Bookstore

Tuesday, June 28: San Francisco, CA
7:00 PM at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books


I don’t usually talk about my job, but someone else has written about reading manuscripts for a children’s book publisher so I don’t have to. And she’s just scratched the surface as far as the kind of stuff we get. Though am I crazy for wanting to read that POPGIRL story? Getting that query in the mail would make my day I think.

If you’re wondering while I haven’t had a thing to say here about Kirstie Alley and Fat Actress it’s because I wrote about it for an upcoming BUST column. So while you’ll have to wait until late May to see it, please know that I did get paid to watch her flail around and scream hoarsely out her car window at the drive-thru about how she didn’t get her order of fries, which, if you know anything about the mysterious and reportedly hilarious ways of fat people, is NOT something an actual fat person would ever do, since they do everything they can to avoid public displays of blatant fattery. But Kirstie Alley has some weird ideas about fat, because judging from the way she dresses herself now, she thinks being fat comes with a special talent for reading Tarot cards.

I wish I could think of something to say about Celebrity Fit Club on VH1, which was not nearly as wrongheaded as Fat Actress (though–again, what was with all the weird medieval details? The set design? Maybe Hollywood stylists never see fat people outside of Renaissance Fairs and think that we all dress like serving wenches and/or sit in ornate carved chairs?). So, nothing else to add for now, except that in my boot camp class I do push-ups just like Wendy The Snapple Lady and when she did a set of standard pushups that one time I felt sort of personally betrayed somehow.

Book reading dates coming soon! Soon!

Birthday Horoscope Round-Up, 2005

Every year on my birthday, I like to consult the stars. Well, really–the half-assed version of “the stars” that appears in a fifty-word blurb on a newspaper page right next to Mary Worth or some other lame comic strip. I used to be content with whatever vague predictions the Tribune coughed up, but now I can search around online for other options, so here goes.

Chicago Sun-Times #1 (they have two horoscope columns), Holly Mathis:

IF MARCH 13 IS YOUR BIRTHDAY: Your ever-evolving life is an inspiration to others. Put your message out there. The universe only knows to give to you if you are grateful for what you’ve received. Loving gestures are reciprocated, bringing comfort and healing. By June, you’re ready for an adventure. Sagittarius and Capricorn are ideal partners for travel, business and love. Your lucky numbers are 20, 14, 39, 3 and 25.

The first sentence makes it sound like I’m going to develop the ability to talk with dolphins through my fingertips, but I’m sure Holly means just personal growth or something. Sentence 4: ooh! Group hug! The fifth sentence makes me hope that I will be in a high-speed car chase with jewel thieves. I buy all the lucky number predictions except “39.”

This next one is from “Lovepsychic.com.”

Happy Birthday Pisces: This is the year to step out of your old self and refine your future! With liberating Uranus in your Sun sign, you are free to explore who you are and who you would like to be! You are free to seek new friendships, new lifestyles and a new self image! Money and career can be big issues. Abundant Jupiter in your house of finances can bring money you never expected this year. For instance, a tax problem is resolved, a credit snafu is worked out, a problem with a business partner comes to a compromise or the loan you�ve been waiting for is approved and the check is in the mail! This is certainly the year to follow your intuition. The information coming from your Angels is mind boggling and on point. Your career might still be undergoing some needed changes. Let�s face it Pisces, it is impossible for you work a nine to five unless there is some inner satisfaction attached to it! You need to feel needed at this time! Your spiritual life takes on an inner dimension! You will make incredible gains with meditation, yoga or prayer. The most profound change this year will be love! With crabby-Saturn in your house of love, you may not have been in the mood for romance for quite a while. All that changes on July 16th. You will feel like finding a special person and trying your hand again at the excitement of love!

Okay, the number of exclamation points in this one scares me. A lot! And yet, it’s pretty specific! Taxes! Credit! Yoga! Wow. If you’re reading this entry in my archives a few months from now, you’re totally going to check and see if I wrote something on July 16th, right? Or maybe one of you could do me a favor and email me on the 15th or so and remind me of my impending sudden readiness for romance so that when it happens I won’t mistake it for a nice beer buzz. But whatever it is, I don�t want to know what “liberating Uranus” has to do with it.

Also, while I can’t speak for any other Pisces, I have not had crabby things in my house of love.

Chicago Sun-Times #2, Georgia Nicols:

IF MARCH 13 IS YOUR BIRTHDAY: Actor William H. Macy (1950) shares your birthday. You can be quite prophetic. (Others know this about you.) You’re courageous, and can overcome enormous obstacles in your life. You’re both tolerant and accepting. Because of this, you will grow spiritually the longer you live. You like philosophy, spirituality and metaphysics. This year embraces exciting, major changes for you.

No kidding, Georgia Nicols totally mentioned the William H. Macy thing last year. Damn, you, Georgia, you owe me eight new words of astrological wisdom. But it’s not like the remaining fifty words are worth all that much. I’ll “grow spiritually the longer I live?” You mean I won’t grow in an inverse relationship to time? Well, that’s too bad, because, wow, think of all the philosophical, spiritual, and metaphysical implications of going backwards in time! And here is my prophecy: William H. Macy will get mentioned in my horoscope next year.

That’s all I could dig up tonight. If you happen to come across other birthday horoscopes online, I’d love to see them for March 13 and/or this week, so feel free to send links (or post them in the comments).

Don't forget, the Pink Ladies are a gang

This makes me happy as hell that Jennifer Weiner wrote a blurb for my book.

In a nutshell: last week Meg Wolitzer, who is decidedly a Literary Author, wrote an essay in praise of chick-lit writers, calling them “Pink Ladies,” and while she has good intentions, you got the sense she was just a tad too amused with the idea of slumming with these fluffy girly novel confections to notice what their authors are trying to say about women’s lives and class issues and all kinds of sticky difficult cultural stuff. So Weiner decided to call her on it: first, briefly in her blog, and then in a guest essay on Beatrice.com. Go read it!

Sometimes I feel fortunate that my book cover doesn’t have a spot of pink, a shoe, or a martini glass on it, but I’m preparing myself for the fact that at the first whiff of “fat girl” some folks will likely jump to conclusions about my book (like my Kirkus reviewer, who kind of skimmed the end*). And others might dismiss it if there’s any kind of comparison to Bridget Jones.** And then sometimes I have to shake the feeling that writing this book means I’ll never get to Iowa Workshop Grad Heaven, where everyone has a nice fellowship, guy poets don’t use metaphors like “the chiaroscuro of her breasts” quite so damn much and without any discernible purpose, and everyone has died knowing that their literary legacy is secure and, um, literary. But I like to think what I’m trying to do here on this side of things–whether it’s the dark side, or the pink side, or whatever–is worth something, which is why Weiner’s essay hit home.

And for the sake of comparison, here’s a little story: in the fall of my freshman year at Iowa I saw Meg Wolitzer read. It was the first reading I’d ever attended–a fiction and poetry reading: Meg Wolitzer read the fiction; James Tate was the featured poet. She was reading from her novel This Is Your Life, which was just about to be made into the movie This Is My Life. I remember it not just because it was my first reading, but because it was the reading Jorie Graham*** was referring to in the very first paragraph of her introduction to that year’s Best American Poetry anthology. No really, go read that first paragraph–I know Graham is making a point about the difference between prose and poetry, and of course she doesn’t give names so she never says it was Wolitzer’s reading, but still: for all of Meg Wolitzer’s Literary Gray Lady stature now, in that essay from fifteen years ago she was the one on the flashy “fast track,” with the movie deals, reading the perky funny stories that made people feel all comfy and “at home.” Plus apparently she “sprayed forward over the unsaid,” with like, her big aerosol can of mid-list prose or something. So evidently you can be Gray and still, you know, spray. Or the grass is always grayer on the other side. Or maybe we shouldn’t be concerned with how Pink any of us are or aren’t.

*Yeah, so the stuff in the last three lines of that review, the stuff the reviewer says happens in my book… doesn’t actually happen in my book. Oh well–guess you can’t get them all right, Kirkus Reviews. (Or can I call you “Kirk,” since for most of the review you’re on a first-name basis with me?)

**A comparision I’ll gladly take when it’s meant well, and I know in that review it is, lest I appear to be complaining too much.

***Graham taught at Iowa at the time, and I completely worshipped her, and at that time in my life I wanted to be the poetriest poet ever and so I clearly remember sitting through the Meg Wolitzer part of the reading thinking “whatever, I’m a poet,” and thinking it slightly vulgar that the story I was listening to was going to be made into a movie, and I wouldn’t have even admitted to really enjoying Wolitzer’s reading, but you know, I think I did. And now I’m not ashamed to say so, dammit.