Saturday, June 23, 2007

What I Did With My Summer Vacation by David I

The visit to London was marvelous. The consulting business side of things went well (though I doubt any readers will want to hear about it), and everything connected with MNW was great fun. It was also exhilarating to see copies of MNW books on the shelves at bookstores, just as though they were, well, any other novels.

On Tuesday after my meetings, I got together with Jonathan Drapes and his ultracool partner Catherine/Katherine at a pub and we sat out under an umbrella and watched a full-up Bengali-style monsoonal downpour slap South Kensington silly. Jonathan, as most of your know, is the author of the hilarious Never Admit to Beige. (I don’t generally admit to beige, but I do admit to owning two copies of the book so I can loan the paperback out. It’s the kind of book that makes people snort whatever they’re drinking out their nostrils, and that’s bad for the pages.) Most people with a real talent for comedy have a mean streak in them, but Jonathan doesn't; he's one of the most affable folks I’ve met (as is C/Katherine, for that matter).

Wednesday I had lunch with Will and Sophie. It was wonderful to put faces to the names. I knew a little about Sophie from Mike Barnard’s book, but Will I knew only through his excellent editing. Both of them were, as I’d been warned, disarmingly smart and and pleasant. The status update is that nothing has really changed--between title changes and the problem of UK/US orthography, and various proofing matters, Shock and Awe is running a bit behind where we’d expected it to be at this point—but the release date is still the same, Sept 7, which is all that matters. We kicked around publicity plans, but I can’t say I contributed anything useful, apart from Jonathan and Catherine’s suggestion that having a fatwa issued against me, ala Salman Rushdie, might get me some free press. (Or maybe knighted. I always wanted to be a knight. Did Rushdie get any kind of armor or anything?)

Will also took me through the display at the new British Library. Handwritten originals from Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Lewis Carroll, not to mention scrawled song lyrics from Lennon and McCartney, the score to Beethoven’s Ninth, plus the effing Magna effing Carta, if you can believe that; and then we adjourned for a chat about MNW, books, and writing in general.

That evening I attended a reading and book signing at the Muswell Hill Bookstore, east of East Finchley. (Would that be East East Finchley? Far East Finchley? I’m not sure.) Roger Morris of Taking Comfort and A Gentle Axe fame was signing Axe, and, serendipitously, Andrew Martin (whose crime novels I’d been advised to read by a good friend) was reading and signing his two most recent books. So I bought a UK copy of Axe for fun (though I neglected to have Roger sign it) as well as Andrew’s pair, and also had Emma Darwin, who just happened to be in the audience, inscribe a copy of her Mathematics of Love. A pretty good haul--plus I added in a copy of Satan Wants Me, by Robert Irwin (author of the extraordinarly peculiar lit-fic novel The Limits of Vision) . Then it was around the corner to a pub with Roger, his smart and lovely wife Rachel, and a few of his fascinating work pals. Great people.

The next day, on the advice of Jonathan, Will, Sophie, Roger, and random strangers on the street, I dropped through Goldsboro Books to say hello to David Headley, who seems to know everyone in the book world and who dropped everything to chat with me about books, and politics, and more books. He also forced two marvelous books upon me and wouldn’t let me pay for them. Wonderful shop. Wonderful guy. I then had another talk with Roger at a Soho pub during lunch time.

I also managed to do some business, see some friends, and drop through the Natural History Museum and the Tate Modern (though not the Tate British. So, plenty of Max Ernst—my favorite painter—and Francis Bacon, but no Burne-Jones or Rosetti this time round).

The only peculiar thing is that everybody I met was so damned nice and hospitable. In movies and novels, this is a clue that something is seriously wrong, and that a major conspiracy or mad scientific experiment is about to be revealed. (The fact that all the women were attractive also shouts Hollywood.)

It worries me. But at least until the time all of you I visited pull off your masks and are revealed as aliens bent on galactic domination, I’d like to say how much I enjoyed meeting you.

And, to those of you I've not yet met, don't think you're off the hook.


Anonymous said...

Glad you survived London, David.

There are four contemporaneous copies of the Magna Carta. I like the one in Lincoln Castle (I used to live in Lincoln.) It went to the New York World Fair in 1939 and so had to be held in Fort Knox, next to the original of the US Constitution, until the end of the Second World War. I just stole that piece of info off Wikipedia, by the way.


cate sweeney said...

Sounds like you had a brill time. I'm almost envious, yet did all very similar things too. It's great fun isn't it? It brings back lovely memories, but you've obviously made lots of friends from so far away.
Not long now to the big day!
best wishes

David Isaak said...

Hi, Aliya

You shouldn't have confessed to the Wikipedia thing. I would have believed that you had to learn such a thing in school.

Fort Knox isn't all that safe, though. I saw "Goldfinger".

Roger Morris said...

It was great to have the opportunity to meet you, David. A real pleasure.

Maybe see you in California next time!


David Isaak said...

Hi Cate

Yes, indeed, pub date isn't that far off. Weird, really.

Good luck with your workshop!

David Isaak said...

Hi, Roger

Thanks again for all the hospitality. And, by all means, give a shout if you're coming to California--even if it's to the Bay Area; we have friends and family up there, so we pass through several times a year.

Regards to your work pals, too...

Jonathan Drapes said...

Hi David,
It was a real pleasure to share a pint and some of London's more bizarre weather. Looking forward to seeing you for the launch in September.


David Isaak said...

Hi, Jonathan

Yes, I must say that was the most surreal setting for a drink I've ever encountered!

The book will be launched, but it looks as though I won't be coming over in September after all. But I'll catch up with you at some point...

Matt Curran said...

Hi David

Sorry to hear you won't be coming back over for the launch. I'll have to work out another way of meeting up - maybe come over to California at some point (we have friends there).

I've replied to your idea of a central MNW blog for writers to post entries, news etc. and I reckon it's a good idea. I'll probably look to set it up after I wind down my blog. But I suppose it all depends on whether Roger, Cate, Jonathan, Sam, Lucy, Brian, Michael, Faye, Aliya etc. will use it to whether I expend much time getting it up and running. But it would be fun. Like you said, it would also negate having to think of something to blog every week or so, and wouldn’t it be a fantastic marketing tool (question for Roger and Jonathan)?

David Isaak said...

Hi Matt

By all means drop through when you're in California! We've even got a spare bedroom. And I'm bound to be passing through the UK at some point. You know, picking up the Booker Prize or something.

I'm going to promote your remarks on blogs to a post so we can get the discussion rolling.

Eliza Graham said...

Would you like me to issue a Fatwa against you? If I, or my agents, find you I/we will beat you with a rolled copy of the TLS.

David Isaak said...


Well, just don't hit me with any of those free Tube tabloids, okay?