Jan 30, 2007

I will be reading at this event this Saturday, which is lovely as I have an especial fondness for laundromats and all their horrors. Those whirling things can eat you!


Yes! It's time for another Dirty Laundry: Loads of Prose, this time we will be in fabulous Williamsburg, Brooklyn on Saturday February 3rd at 7:30pm..

Come out and cozy up to a dryer, elevate your spirits by hugging a machine in spin cycle mode all while hearing great writers and the music of a true guitar master.

Writers Carolyn Turgeon, author of the novel Rain Village and Marie Carter, author of Trapeze Diaries will read, and Steve "Smitty" will work the room on his National bottle neck steel guitar.

Here are the details:
Date: Saturday February 3, 2007
Time: 7:30-8:30pm
Where: Giant Launder Center
Address: 173 North 3rd Street, between Bedford and Driggs in
Directions: L train to first stop in Bedford stop (1st stop in
Brooklyn), walk south on Bedford to North 3rd, left on North 3rd.

Bring your laundry and I'll supply quarters and detergent, we're using METHOD brand. It's great detergent, and I have eight cases of the stuff. With a suggested donation of $5 (it sells for nine dollars retail) you can have your very own bottle (Les wants me to get the cases out of the living room, so I need your help here).

Have a look at the website at www.dirtylaundryreadings.com for bios of the artists and details about our recent laundromat events.

Jan 29, 2007

If you live in NYC or within FIVE HOURS of here, and I mean by plane, spaceship, or wing, I think it is imperative that you come to Rocky Sullivans tonight at 8pm to see my fellow Unbridled friend LAYNE MAHEU read from his gorgeous, transcendant debut novel SONG OF THE CROW, which is the story of Noah's Ark told from the perspective of a crow. Layne's writing is so beautiful you will want to wear it around your neck! You will want to coat your eyelids in it, or sprinkle it in your bath. You might possibly want to EAT IT. Whirl it on top of your ice cream sundae. Lick it from your fingers, or tip back your head and pour it in like a gypsy drinks wine. Come tonight; you will close your eyes and you will BE a bird and the earth will be flooding below you and I think when you open them again you will be happy to be in ROCKY SULLIVANS where you can vaguely approximate the feeling of Layne's prose by imbibing much vino.

So really, I don't see what the problem is.


Also: I wanted to write about my Texas weekend but wanted the following article to come out in Shelf Awareness first, as I am FAR too lazy to tell the story twice:

The weekend before last I traveled to Marshall, Tex., the small-town setting for this year's Pulpwood Queens' Girlfriend Weekend, an annual event held in East Texas since 2001. Members of the Pulpwood Queens--the largest meeting and discussion book club in the country, according to founder Kathy Patrick--come to meet with authors, buy books and jewelry, and don their most fabulous leopard print duds and rhinestone pins for the weekend's highlight, the Hair Ball.

I went to the event as a Pulpwood Queens author whose debut novel will be read by the club this April (Kathy selects the books that the "thousands" of members in the club's more than 100 chapters read each month), but I felt far more like a fan than an attraction. I was a fan of the nearly 60 authors present--I bought a bunch of books and ran around getting them signed when I probably should have been hawking my own--and a fan of the few hundred Pulpwood Queens who were there, women who gather once a month in each other's houses or at local restaurants and embrace Patrick's idea that reading is as fun as it is important.

At the Friday afternoon press conference, Kathy was unmistakable when she swept in: vivacious, larger than life, a fun-loving, tiara-wearing blonde Texas woman decked out in fake fur and rhinestones. She is also deeply passionate about books. Underlying all the fun and big hair is a serious commitment to spreading literacy, especially to readers who might otherwise never meet an author or gather around a table to talk about a book. Her enthusiasm is infectious: at one point she pulled me and Margaret Sartor aside and as she described Margaret's book American Pie, I honestly felt like I had to have at that book that very instant. I remember watching Oprah describe White Oleander--"liquid poetry!!"--and feeling the same way.

The weekend events started on Friday night, when everyone met up at the Marshall for a night of music and improvised skits, emceed by Phil Doran and featuring a hilarious sketch in which author River Jordan impersonated Kathy Patrick in a blonde wig, as host of the Okra Show. Saturday was an all-day author extravaganza, with a series of panels upstairs and downstairs. In between, long lines formed in the book room, where Barnes & Noble sold stacks of each author's books. I was on the "Authors Who Have Mastered the Art of Storytelling" panel, and, having never sat on a panel before, I was more than a little nervous. I quickly realized that this was as fun and low-pressure as it gets: we just talked about our books one by one, and how we came up with our ideas, and the audience was attentive and sweet (and sparkling). Afterwards, several women touched my arm or patted my shoulder as I walked by, to tell me how much they'd enjoyed it. The whole weekend was like that; the authors were all friendly and having a great time, as were the Pulpwood Queens themselves. And I met a ton of great authors: laid-back Montana writer Cindy Dyson, charming Louisianan Ronlyn Domingue, elegant, stately New Englander Mary McGarry Morris and Californian newcomer Amy Wallen, to name just a few.

The crazy (and hair) reached new heights at Saturday night's Hair Ball, where group after group of ladies arrived decked out in their finest and flashiest attire and posed under the PULPWOOD Hollywood-style sign on one wall. One sleek grey-haired woman wore a glittering silver gown, the picture of elegance. One group was dressed as Marilyn Monroe. Another woman went as Cher. Author Kathi Kamen Goldmark showed up in a wig with two white cones jutting from the top. A highlight was the Timber Man contest, where male authors like William Cobb, Ron Hogan and Robert Dalby got out and danced for the coveted prize. The three finalists, chosen by applause, had to sing to Kathy, and when J. Brooks Dann belted out "Lady," we all knew he had it in the bag. It was anything goes. I found myself dancing for hours and whooping it up Texas style. Lord knows what was caught on camera. When the party wound down at about midnight, a group of authors and I drove 15 miles to Jefferson to the one bar that was open until 2 a.m. We stayed till closing time, and a small group of us even danced to a live version of "Cocaine."

Sunday morning was a final brunch. Afterwards, I got the opportunity to drive out to Jefferson to Kathy's store, Beauty and the Book, the only hair salon/bookstore in the country (Kathy also does hair), which is in a quaint house with a fence and a front yard. There's a tree dripping with Mardis Gras beads and a bra or two in front, and a long Southern porch with three vintage hairdryers lined up in a row. When you walk inside, into a leopard-covered hallway, plastic vines hang down from the door frame leading into the main shop. The store itself is filled with books (many of them book club selections) and stuffed leopards and Marilyn Monroe prints and a castle-shaped birdcage and a fireplace with a mantle covered in sparkly things. Behind the front table is an elaborate throne. Just past this main room is a beauty parlor that's just as wild and full of wonders, each wall hanging or trinket attached to a story of its own.

I was sad to leave this crazy place and come back to New York. I even have fantasies of moving to Texas myself. I love Kathy's vision: that women should be glamorous and fabulous and extraordinary, and that books are as much a part of that as elaborate hairdos and rhinestones and best friends.

Jan 22, 2007

I am finally home, tho at the end of my long journey I was cruelly forced to stand in JFK for an hour staring longingly at the little chute from which luggage emerges... and then face the sad fact that my bags had been kidnapped and sent off to one of the Carolinas.

Tomorrow I will write many things about my glorious weekend in Texas, but in the meantime I would just like to prove how extremely elegant I am, smoking cigars in "clubs" I am now a member of and wearing rings that large birds could hatch out of at any moment:

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Jan 19, 2007

I really love WAFFLE HOUSE:

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Also, this is my new other favorite resturant, which is right next door:

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I am in a hotel in Marshall, Texas, now, and I do not think there is anything better than being by yourself in a hotel room in a strange town where you don't know anyone and aren't going to be staying long.

Two of the best days I ever had were in hotel rooms. When I was about 18 I started taking the Greyhound bus on long trips, back when you could travel anywhere in the country for $68. Once I took it from Pennsylvania to San Francisco, and stopped for a night in Denver. 100% because of Jack Kerouac. Anyway, I stayed in this rundown old man hotel downtown and was just there for one day, and I thought it was sheer bliss, a feeling of complete freedom, and I wandered around the city all afternoon and actually ended up having this amazing one night affair with this beautiful boy who was painting a railing near my hotel. We talked for hours and hours and he tried to convince me to stay in Denver and I said no. I think the next year I took the bus from Pennsylvania to Olympia, Washington, and stayed for a night in Billings, Montana. I almost didn't stop because I had spent two days on the bus talking to this really cool old man who lived in Juneau and loved Herman Hesse (which I did, back then) and said things like he didn't believe in evil because there is no such thing as a negative apple. But I stopped anyway and it was Valentine's Day and I wandered around Billings a bit, but the city was covered in snow and ice and no one was around and so I just went to my hotel room and lay on the bed and watched movies and ordered in pizza and it was the best day ever. The end.

Jan 18, 2007

I am currently sitting in a restaurant in the Cincinnati airport with the words "Kentucky" and "Brewery" in the title, waiting for a connection to Shreveport, surrounded by business men and listening to some weird song that is sampling "Tainted Love." I just ate some soup with beer in it. I am quite certain that the two men beside me are discussing prostitutes.

I have decided to grow wings and avoid airports from now on.

I am excited however to meet the author Bill Cobb in a bit and fly with him the rest of the way, then rent a car and drive into Texas.

I think the man beside me just looked at my computer.

Jan 17, 2007

So last night I woke up just in time to witness this evil and nefarious scene, which I think proves once and for all that the animals have united against us and do terrible things whilst we slumber:

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A little later I woke to find MR PICKLES hatching more plots when he thought no one was looking:

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And THEN, when I thought things couldn't possibly get any worse, MR PICKLES tried to steal my sheets!

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And when I got up this morning, I discovered that my event at Powells tonight was CANCELLED due to the weather.

Jan 16, 2007

So I am sitting in my friend Lana's gigantic amazing loft in downtown Portland, surrounded by multi-colored wigs--pink and green and purple wigs with rabbits and birds jutting out of them!--and astonishing paintings and crazy patchwork curtains and plastic mannequins and brick walls and huge windows looking out over a ton of snow. Lots of snow! I woke up before anyone else and sat here in the quiet looking out over the snow falling down, in this light-filled loft, and it was really lovely, even tho it means my plans have all done been cancelled and I don't know if anyone will come to my reading tomorrow. This does seem to be a city that shuts down in the snow. But my sister is in town and Joi is here, and this morning Lana made us coffee and pancakes with berries and rosewater and cinnamon, and today I don't have to do ANYTHING AT ALL until later when we will all have dinner and drink bloody mary cocktails.

I flew into Portland yesterday. Last night's show at the Someday Lounge was incredible. I wish every reading could be like that. The Someday Lounge is just a gorgeous space, and we walked in and they were playing a whole Devotchka album, and then the show started and basically I read 4 scenes from my book that sort of wove a little story of how my character meets the librarian woman and then learns trapeze from her and then sees the circus/sideshow for the first time and then, finally, performs in front of a crowd. And around those scenes there were: this amazing French Chanteuse, Veronique Chevalier, and two different (and beautifulll) trapeze acts, one on a regular trapeze and one in a hoop, and this amazing juggler Rhys Thomas, who juggled knives and walked on blades, and then Lana's band Power CIrcus--noise and accordion, very spooky/dreamy--played while this gorgeous bellydancer danced with a sword and a veil. And the ringmaster for all of this was Lana's friend Noah, or Mr. Batty, who was hilarious and gentlemanly and mad, straight from the last century. It was amazing. After, we hung out and had food and I was very conscious of it being one of those magical nights that only happens one time.

Oh, and Lana and her lovely beau have a bunny rabbit named MR PICKLES who supposedly never leaves his patch of rug in the downstairs bathroom. I had a feeling that MR PICKLES was up to no good, however, despite his innocent demeanor. Sure enough, last night I woke up to find MR PICKLES staring at me, a foot away from where I was sleeping. I pointed out this astonishing fact to Joi, who said "really?" and promptly and insensitively fell back asleep. MR PICKLES proceeded to run and run along the wall, to the front door and up to the kitchen, then back to the bathroom. I woke up later to see him gazing longingly out over the living room floor, no doubt scheming and hatching secret plots. In the morning, however, he was back on the bathroom rug, pretending that nothing had happened at all. This is definitely a rabbit who is up to no good.

San Francisco was also fun, tho on Saturday I had the most miserable flying experience of my life and almost missed my flight despite being in the airport almost 90 minutes before my plane took off. It was complete chaos, total confusion, screaming people everywhere.. Awful. I stood in this one line for half an hour before being told that I had to stand in some other line first, even tho there had been nothing and no one around to indicate that that was the case before then. But somehow I got to CA in one piece and then went straight to meet Tony Dushane, who interviewed me for his radio show Drinks with Tony, and then I went to meet my old friend Mike to stay in his apartment near the Civic Center, scene of my former crimes when I visited lived for a time in SF as a wayward youth. Later that evening I hung out with Mike and my friends Charles, Marcie, and Greg, none of whom had met before, at my new favorite restaurant Original Joe's, an old time and mobster-ish place with big leather booths in the Tenderloin.

Sunday my friend Greg picked me up to go with me to Lafayette, for the little last-minute event I did at the Lafayette Bookstore. It was amazing. All these incredibly sweet women who had read my book or were reading my book, many of them in book clubs that were/are reading it, and we just sat around and had tea and cookies--and I had the kind of tea that flowers in your cup! it looks like an acorn and then comes to life in the water--and I read one little scene and the women asked a lot of questions, and they were really so kind and sweet, and I signed a lot of books, and after I signed one woman's book Greg overheard her exclaiming to her friend that I was adorable, like a "tea cookie" !

Then Greg took me to this coffeeshop in Berkeley and eventually we got back to San Francisco, where I read at Cody's bookstore and got to see more friends, including the amazing poet Daphne Gottlieb. Also my friends Patrizia and Becka and Alan came, and clown Dizzy Decimal did a cute little performance with two of his friends. Then we had cake that Patrizia brought and a group of us went out for drinks, and eventually I ended up in the Mission eating the best burrito of my life, so good in fact that I was momentarily convinced that I had to move to San Francisco or else I might die. Later we went to the bar Mike works at, where we had an astonishing array of overly sweet drinks that he gleefully prepared for us.

Tomorrow I read at Powell's, and Thursday I fly to Texas!
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Jan 11, 2007

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My glamorously skilled designer friend Bonnie Shelden just designed this beauteooous flyer.
So I saw Pan's Labyrinth with my friend Shax on Tuesday, and I thought it was quite a stunning movie. I can't even really say much about it, I just felt like yes, that's how to be. Or something similarly hokey. Last night I worked hard on my second novel, which is so close to being done but every little last thing seems to take hoooursss, and then I glamorously watched Top Chef and when I saw the preview for next week I had a real moment of pure GRIEF. How can I bear to wait a whole week?, I thought, and promptly fainted. But when I came to the feeling had passed. I still like Marcel. He's so clear-eyed and pure! And a true nerd. Who raps! Also, I would now very much like to have a hamburger that tastes like meatloaf.

In other news, this article is in Shelf-Awareness this morn:

Handselling Favorite: Lafayette Shines on Rain Village
Linda Grana, manager of the Lafayette Bookstore, Lafayette, Calif., and the staff have showered attention on a November novel, Rain Village by Carolyn Turgeon (Unbridled Books, $24.95, 9781932961249), and made it into a store bestseller. Booksellers at the "fairly small" store handsold the title during December and displayed it at the register with a talker that said, "This is sooooo good!" (The staff gift-wrapped copies in advance "knowing they'd sell and to save wrapping time," Grana said.) In three weeks, Lafayette Bookstore sold 55 copies of the Rain Village, making it the #1 fiction title, tied with Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier.

When it rains, it pours: Rain Village is getting several more boosts at Lafayette. For one, the book has been chosen by several of the store's book clubs (some 160 clubs are registered there). Moroever, after New Year's Day, Grana has a tradition of choosing her personal top pick for the previous year--and promoting it to customers. Out of the 175 books Grana read in 2006, she chose Rain Village. "We will soon be sending out an e-mail telling customers (who didn't hear of it at Christmas) about this little 'hidden gem' we've found," she stated.

Rain Village is, Grana said, "a compelling coming of age story about a young girl in Kansas. Unhappy with her life on a farm, she befriends a gypsy woman working at the library, who tells her tales of life and love in the circus. When Tessa decides to run away and join the circus as a trapeze artist, she begins a magical and bittersweet journey, to discover herself and the meaning of friends and family.

Also, this is the leetle review from SF Weekly, and I think the loveliest one I've gotten:

Lord of the Ring
By Nirmala Nataraj
We have literary genres for just about everything under the sun (postmodern Westerns, subversive chick lit, sci-fi erotica -- the list goes on), so it makes sense that we devote one to that fading mainstay of Americana, the circus (and its first cousin, the traveling sideshow). It's difficult to appreciate the legacy of the big top, which decades ago graced desolate Dustbowl towns and transformed dead-end stops into stages for the extraordinary. That's why writers like Carolyn Turgeon, who illustrates the obscure terrain of circus folk in her debut novel, Rain Village, are refreshing additions to the literary scene. The book offers great big heapings of magical realism à la Gabriel García Márquez, as well as beguiling eccentrics that bring to mind the characters of Jeffrey Eugenides. The novel centers on Tessa, a pint-sized misfit in a Midwestern farming town, who befriends a fable-spinning librarian who, in turn, spurs her to become a trapeze artist. Aside from its offbeat interludes with an assortment of oddballs, Rain Village is a quixotic survival allegory that deftly explores the social mores of early-20th-century America. Whether it's the Great American Circus Novel is for posterity to determine, but at the very least, Rain Village is a fun read. Sun., Jan. 14, 4:30 p.m., Cody's Books/Stockton, 2 Stockton (at Ellis) , San Francisco

Jan 9, 2007

My commie friend Rob Horning is quoted in London's Daily Telegraph grousing about the new design of the Wall Street Journal!

This might possibly be the most curmudgeonly thing I've ever seen.

Of course, there were grumbles. In his column on the website popmatters.com, Rob Horning complained that "this morning on the train I unfolded my Wall Street Journal and suddenly felt like the Amazing Colossal Man". Others bemoaned the fact that they found it difficult to navigate the new paper and find their favourite columns.
So my event in San Francisco this Sunday is a SF Weekly Top Pick of the week. ! Plus they have a lovely leetle review, tho my photo seems to be absent in a ghostly yet glamorously understated manner.

I am even more excited, however, by the Saturday pick -- the opener being the amazing El Radio Fantastique that we discovered (ok that my friends discovered while yours truly delicately slumbered) in New Orleans -- which could not possibly sound more alluring:

If local singer Rupa were a movie, she would be Amélie meets Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown meets Latcho Drom meets Do the Right Thing. She'd be set in India and Berkeley, and she would star Elizabeth Peña and Tom Waits. !!!

In other news, I am such a lightweight that last night I met my friend Joi at the PIERRE HOTEL, for novelistic researchical purposes, and I had one (very strong) truffle martini in the bar -- a beautiful martini, like something you would bathe in! -- and it pretty much knocked me out for the ENTIRE EVENING. It was extremely good, though.

Jan 7, 2007

I had all these plans today that I cancelled because I am trying trying trying to finish this novel and get it, or at least a big chunk of it, to my agent this week before I fly off to California. I feel very locked rapunzel-like in a tower when I should obviously be off iceskating somewhere, or doing something glamorous involving fireplaces and mulled wine. I would however like to say that:

1) I love Calexico.

2) I am obsessed with those crazy fairy-hoaxing storytelling girls, whom I stare at every day and who figure prominently in my boook:

3) My friend Massie was just expressing huge jealousy that I get to hang out with this woman in two weeks at this event, the page for which unfortunately features a photograph of yours truly looking like a rabbit. Anyway, Massie recently heard her on NPR and said she's amazing, a madly interesting/interested in everything little dynamo. I also, by the way, get to stay at a cozy charming Vermont Inn that has a lobby with a big fireplace in it. I really, really like fireplaces. The end.

Jan 6, 2007

I saw Perfume last night and felt like I was put under a spell for two and a half hours. It's a gorgeous gorgeous sad movie, just totally rich and sensory and ecstatic. I was completely enthralled. After, my friends were talking about it and I couldn't even say anything, I was so overloaded by it... Not only is it just so emotional and overwhelming, but all the scents! All the close-up shots of coffee beans and oysters and feet dancing in mud and plums being cut in half and glimmering bottles of perfume and bright red hair falling down and baskets of bread and wet river stones... There is so much.. and the colors are bright and lush and ravishing. I loved it on every level. It was funny, tho: after, my friend Jason was saying how the movie is all about art and composition, about how atrocity is at the heart of creation, etc., and his friend was talking about how the movie is about class, and how it's an interesting take on the sociopath, and I just felt like this movie is a genuine, pure love story, all about love and desire and loss.. Then I got home and read some reviews, and they were all bad, talking about the film being emotionally hollow (!) or too squalid and sordid (!) or unbearably long or too much about a character we care nothing about (!). I was so wrapped up in that character; I was so hooked into his obsessions and so horrified by them at the same time. I love when a film or anything can make you completely empathize with and feel a (destructive) character while also letting you be heartbroken and horrified by what it is they're destroying. And Alan Rickman! It is so wrenching!! But I won't give too much away.

Anyway, Perfume is by the same director as Run Lola Run, of course, which is one of my all-time favorite movies, and that, too, was a movie that blew me away, that seemed to me so full and rich and profound and beautiful, just this flat-out breathtaking and utterly ferocious love story, run through with loss and pain, and I was surprised when some people I know just saw it as sort of candy-like and vapid, a peppy rock video or something. ! I saw Run Lola Run three times in the theater, really breathless and overcome, and don't think I was so knocked out by a movie until Mysterious Skin and Head On/Gegen die Wand. Anyway, it always surprises me, how a story/artwork can hit one person in the gut and leave the next unmoved. I remember leaving Brokeback Mountain feeling annoyed and tired--that movie seemed to me so inauthentic and lame, and that annoying little guitar riff was going to make me stab someone--and then the shock of looking over at my friend David, seeing him in tears.

Jan 4, 2007

I love Top Chef with my whole heart and I have an especial soft spot for Marcel now. He makes his hair look like wings, and loves foam! It's so Botticelli-esque! Plus, all the other people who stole my heart have turned mean.

In other news, I am reading at a Brooklyn laundromat on Feb 3 as part of this series. I do have a special feeling for laundromats. When I was a ne-er do well and very bored teenager, my friends and I would obnoxiously invite cute boys to come to the laundromat with us, and then we'd do our laundry and smoke and play games and blow bubbles. The boys who thought it was too weird we decided were not cool enough to hang out with us, anyway. Of course I have not gone into a laundromat in a few years as I am much too lazy, and nowadays the cleaners actually come to my house to pick up my gorgeously overflowing bags of delicately used underthings.

I meant to mention, too, how, for Christmas, my lovely and ingenious friend ERIC took me to this amazing restaurant, Cookshop, in Chelsea, which is both fancccy and down-home and serves exotic fare like FRIED SPICED HOMINY. I'm not even sure what hominy is, but Eric insists it is a food that would be eaten in Rain Village, which of course means it is the BEST FOOD EVER. We also ate things like squash soup with apples and chestnuts, striped bass with bacon, apple slaw and brussels sprouts, and peppermint stick ice cream with hot fudge. Eric had some duck that made me want to point out the window and steal a piece when he wasn't looking, but I restrained myself with an enviable mixture of elegance and grace. It is the kind of restaurant that makes you feel like you're sitting in front of a large fire, and like you should wear big boots and carry things in buckets. Once I save up $5000000, I shall go there again. The end.

Oh, and: a friend just said this about my book, revealing the secret, nefarious motive behind all my writing:

It's an awesome book, even if it is causing me to grow a vagina.