Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pardon the Interruption

Hush!  Be quiet. Don't bother me while I'm reading. All right. All right. Just let me finish this paragraph. Now. You have my full attention. But wait. Before you start, let me tell you about the book I'm reading.  

It's called Still Life with Bread Crumbs and I love it. I love the sheer act of reading it. It delights me so.

I haven't gotten very far into it. Only about twenty percent according to my Kindle. My Kindle was a present from the love of my life who died recently and it was just about the best present I ever received.

This book was written by Anna Quinlan. Do you know that years ago, while reading another book by Anna, I became convinced she was a childhood friend of mine? Mostly, I suppose, because she was writing about a situation I knew my friend would have had to endure, even though I hadn't even seen my friend in years. In my memoir, Rude Awakening, I call her Jane but in real life her name was similar to Anna's.  It wasn't until I found a picture of Anna on the internet that I realized she wasn't my friend, although psychically they could have been twins.

This book, Still Life with Bread Crumbs, is about a woman (I love books by women about women), who is lonely, I think. She's famous, or at least she was once, but now she's strapped for cash. (Now she's sounding more like me.) Anyway, she rents a cottage - well,  it was more like a cabin - a run down cabin in the woods somewhere and meets a man and falls in love. I think she falls in love. I'm not far enough into the book yet to know - but I love it.

In one scene she sees him with a gun, getting ready to shoot a bald eagle and she makes a lot of noise to scare the eagle away. Only it 's not a gun and he's not a hunter. He explains that it's a tracking device and that he works on weekends keeping track of the eagle's habits for the scientists he works for. She gets embarrassed and he tells her not to worry. The eagle, he says, will come back soon because it has a mate in a nest nearby. "He'll be back. He always is," he says. "The same bird in the same location?" she asks.

And then he answers with a line I love, "They mate for life... Unlike people."

All right now. What was it you wanted? Oh, right. Now it's my turn to be embarrassed, I think as I glance at the clock on my dashboard.  It's time for me to put this school bus into gear and start my morning run. All right. Thanks, Nick. I'm off.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My First Book Signing - or Not

First let me set the scene.  It is 1960.  Dwight Eisenhower is the president. Arlen Specter is still a democrat and an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia. John F. Kennedy is the Democratic party’s nominee and he is about to appear at the Cheltenham shopping center, just outside of Philadelphia and two blocks from my home. 
 
I grab my youngest sister’s hand and drag her with me to see the next President. I am nineteen. My little sister is seven. We arrive at the back of the mall behind the Gimbel’s store as a helicopter flies overhead. Moments later we watch as Kennedy climbs the steps to the podium and begins his speech. Among the remarks he makes are these words: “I believe the Sixties will be difficult for the United States.” (How did he know?) 
    
Kennedy completes his remarks and the crowd disperses. My sister and I walk back home from an event neither of us will ever forget.  Coincidentally, it will be Arlen Specter who, years later, originates the “single bullet theory.” 

Now, flash forward with me to last week. Because I will have to promote my book, Rude Awakening, in the near future, I went to a local Barnes and Noble to watch another author, Lisa Scottoline, do a presentation for her latest book, Keep Quiet. Lisa is a pro! From the moment she walked out to introduce herself, she commanded the stage and never lost her audience’s attention. 

At one point, while talking about people in the crowd – and there was a crowd – she said she saw some new people she had never seen before at one of her readings?  Actually she asked how many people here were virgins and then laughed when at least a half dozen people, including me, raised their hands.  But it was my first signing and I was thoroughly entertained, enthralled and intimidated.  Later, as she signed my copy of Keep Quiet, I mentioned my upcoming book and beamed when she said, “Great title.” 
  
It wasn’t until I was leaving the store that I remembered I wasn’t a virgin after all. Suddenly I was back in 1960.   When I heard that the author of Steps in Time would be appearing at Wanamaker’s in  center city Philadelphia, I made a beeline for the store to see the man I had had a crush on since I was a pre-teen. Now, it isn’t every girl who can say she lost her virginity to Fred Astaire.