And BEA, and a flying visit to New York for a meeting at St. Martins. I think I've figured out by now that I'm not necessarily a good blogger when I'm traveling. And immediately after getting back from a trip, I sometimes take a while to get back into the groove because I keep having the feeling I should report on everything I've done while gone. Nonsense. This isn't a diary or a surveillance report. It's supposed to be fun, right?
So I'm going to focus on a small topic for now--the books I read on all my recent plane rides.
First up was an ARC from Poisoned Pen Press for John Daniel's Vanity Fire, which Barbara Peters shared with me and Marcia Talley after we told her the saga of the Chesapeake Crimes anthology series and its liberation from its former publisher. Anyway, Vanity Fire's a very funny book in which the hero's life begins to fall apart when he's forced to share quarters with a sleazy pornographer turned vanity publisher. Daniel is dead on target about what happens when naive writers pursuing the dream (or delusion) of literary glory fall into the clutches of an unscrupulous crook.
Next up was an ARC I picked up at BEA: A Perfect Mess, by Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman. Coming out from Little, Brown in January. It explores the idea that we are, as a society, too obsessed with order and too guilty about the ways in which we fall see ourselves as unorganized. They suggest that too much order is a bad thing, leading to problems such as a stunted ability to improvise and more time spent on organizing something than using or enjoying it. The authors probably aren't going to wean me from my fascination with Clean Sweep and convince me to give up my decluttering program--and that's not their goal. They admit that some things need to be organized--brain surgery, for example. But I like their idea that we should experiment to find the optimum degree of disorder in our lives. Maybe, for example, the junk drawer is not a secret festering blight in the midst of an otherwise moderately organized home but the safety valve that allows the rest of the home to stay moderately organized with only moderate effort.
Then I turned to Alexandra Sokoloff's spooky thriller, The Harrowing, which is coming out from St. Martins in August. I met Alex when we both worked at the Sisters in Crime/MWA booth at PLA and picked up a copy of her ARC after we both did the same thing at the SinC booth at BEA. I'm not sure which is more of a relief--meeting an author whose work you love and finding you like the person as well as the books, or reading a new friend's book (or a friend's new book) and finding that the next time you see her, you can, indeed, say, "Wow! I couldn't put it down." Five college students are left behind in a spooky gothic dorm over Thanksgiving holiday, and if you think nice things are going to happen, you probably didn't look at the cover. Okay, Alex tells me the ARC cover isn't the final, but I'm sure the final will have the same look of eerie menace, and it will still have those blurbs from Ira Levin (Rosemary's Baby) and Ramsey Campbell (The Nameless, The Doll Who Ate His Mother). I'd burble some more, but I'm too tired to avoid spoilers, so I'll just say "Well done!"
While in Mayhem, I ran into Nancy Pickard, who was such a joy to panel with at Malice Domestic. Only saw her in passing in the book room, alas, which meant she didn't get to hear me rave yet again about Seven Steps on the Writer's Path, the excellent book on writing that she and Lynn Lott co-wrote. But I did get her to sign a copy for me of The Virgin of Small Plains. Started reading it on the trip home from Mayhem and finished it on the way up to New York, and only the need to get some sleep before my six a.m. rendezvous with the alarm clock prevented me from staying up all night to finish it. When I ran out of reading material on the way home, I was tempted to read it again, but decided I didn't need to: it was still traveling with me. Moody, evocative and funny by turns. Whatever Nancy's doing, it's working; think I'll go reread those seven steps again.
Long wait at the airport last night--planes stacking up due to serious
thunderstorms outside Chicago. So many planes in line to take off that
from some angles, looking across the field, the flickering of their
warning lights looked like a small fireworks display. We were somewhere
between an hour and two hours late getting to Dulles, and the flight
attendants asked those of us who didn't have to make tight connections
if we would stay seated while those who did sprinted out of the plane.
My entire row obediently sat until the hubbub died down--from the smiles
of contentment on their faces, I expect my seatmates, like me, weren't
just there in plenty of time for their next flight but had reached their
"final destination," as the airlines so ominously say. Final destination? I just call it home, and it feels good.