This morning I woke up to discover that I had been moved to a new hotel room while I slept. My entire bed had been somehow transported to a room that appears to be in an entirely different hotel. How this was even possible is a question for some genius scientists out there, though I believe the secret can be gleaned from the movie Meatballs.
So far no explanation has been offered from my corporate masters. I look in the mirror and I am gaunt and unshaven, slightly yellow. This is probably not going to end well. They’ve pretty much broken me, so I think I’ll start posting to this blog on a twice-daily basis to see if my treatment improves.
I’ve actually got a reading scheduled, as you might note below; That also is probably not going to end well. For me, that is–for you if you’re in the audience it might end well, especially if it ends like my readings usually do–with me screaming and being beaten by security. Highly entertaining. But for me? Not so good. While I make it look easy with my superstar looks and boyish charm, readings are simply No Fun.
Hmmmn…someone just knocked on the door to the room and shouted in a thick Bronx accent that telling people how bad my readings are is unmutual, and if I don’t stop they’ll replace all the liquor in the honor bar with Near Beer. Crickey.
My readings aren’t terrible. I do, for instance, actually read coherently, and sometimes try hard to put some life into my words (it helps if I’m boozed up, which, honestly, I usually am, a trick I picked up back in High School). But Writers as a breed, I am convinced, write because it does not involve public speaking. If we had talent in the public speaking sphere, we’d be performers. Writers invariably write things down for a goddamn reason.
So, readings have always beenÂ a strange promotional tool as far as I’m concerned. Take a bunch of pale, socially awkward people who have rich inner worlds and put them on stage. Brilliant! My god, have the gods of publishing promotion ever been to a reading? Mumbling, stammering, heckling–oh, it’s fun.
Here are my top three Reading Moments from past attempts to make a name for myself. You can be the judge of whether superstardom is in the cards for me or not. These are in reverse order of humiliation:
Â #3 -Â The Hecklers at Rocky’s. I read at Rocky Sullivans, which is a bar, and which convinced me to always read at bars from now on. I got a little drunk before getting up to the podium, which is why I think all readings should be at bars–the drunkening. Not everyone at the bar was there for the reading; some folks just wanted to drink and talk, and my reading was obviously annoying them, so they heckled me. And I was just Drunk Enough–you know, that magical twilight between sober and snookered–to respond with smart comebacks. At least they seemed like smart comebacks, and everyone laughed.
#2 – Dito. When my first novel, the lamented Lifers, came out, I set up some readings and landed a slot at the Barnes and Noble at Astor Place in Manhattan, which was cool. They paired my up with Dito Montiel for some unknown reason, who was not only reading in support of A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, which eventually Robert Downey Jr. turned into a movie, but who was being filmed by a documentary film crew. I went on first, stammered my way nervously through a passage, and respected the five minute time that had been suggested to me. Dito got up there and. . .performed. he sang, he told stories, he actually did read a little bit, and he basically wiped me off the floor. It kind of sucked.
#1 – Olssons. When I set up the Big Assed Famous Tour of 2002 I tried to hit as many cities as I could where I knew someone. New York was my town, so that was easy enough. In Chicago I had Quimbys Bookstore as an ally. I didn’t know anyone in Philadelphia, and somehow that turned into a triumph with press coverage and everything. In Washington D.C. I had a friend who’d once lived there, and he helped set me up with Olssons, who scheduled me despite not knowing who I was. They then did absolutely nothing to promote the reading, possibly because it had been booked as a favor. As a result, when I drove down there with a few friends, the future-wife, and my Mo, I ended up reading to. . .no one.
Absolutely no one.
Oh, one guy who’d been browsing the magazines wandered over and watched me for a few moments, but I literally read to my 3 friends, my fiancee, and my mother. Needless to say, there was some drinking that night.
Anyway, let’s hope the readings we set up in support of The Electric Church are not quite so horrible. Although, for your sake, maybe they should be, as they’re more entertaining that way.