Today the book is publishing in the U.S.—the day has finally arrived—and I’m starting on a three week tour. I can’t believe that after a few short years—like 29—the day has come. I’ve been writing fiction and wanting to publish a novel for almost three decades, and it has happened. I was quite nervous as I prepared to go on Michael Krasny’s show, Forum. Michael Krasny is the Teri Gross of the Bay Area and has interviewed all of the great authors of our time.
Aside from being an English Professor, he is a true public intellectual, who knows everything about literally everything and has stiletto sharp insights into all literary works. (He actually has a memoir about his life in dialogue called OFF MIKE coming out from Stanford University, which I’m eager to read.) As I waited in the “Green Room” (just for the record, there was nothing green in the room), I could hardly believe the voltage working its way through my nerves. I have been listening to Michael’s program since college and like most Bay Area authors I’ve probably imagined dozens of conversations with him while driving in my car (“Well, Michael, I’m glad you asked that question…”).
In the Green Room, I could hear the program while I waited. It was a discussion of Picasso, another legendary Spaniard; how unfair to follow Picasso. So I walked into his studio, waiting to hear his judgment on the book. To my amazement, he liked it, really liked it. It felt like the benediction of the literary establishment or at least one of the pillars that I respect most. The interview was an incredible joy from his questions to the issues raised by the callers. There was one caller’s comment that stood out for the truth of its emotional self-revelation. I’ll try to return to this tomorrow. Right now its getting late, because after the show and racing back to prepare for the first reading tomorrow and celebrating with my agent, Heide Lange, it was time to go see my son’s volleyball game. It’s the last game I’ll get to watch him play for a while, since I hit the road on Thursday in the U.S. and then in June will be going to Spain and France to tour there. He was playing the best team in the league, and when we got in the car after the game, I told him how well he and his teammates and played. Despite the fact that they had lost, the skill of the other team had brought out the best in them. He said, “Dad, I lost the game.” It was true he had not returned the last serve. It was time for one of those moments of fatherly wisdom that make me feel completely inadequate to the task, but I tried. I told him that it’s the luck of the draw who the ball comes to, and you do the best you can when the ball comes. Every point scored won the game and every point given up lost the game. They won or lost as a team, no matter how hard it might feel to lose the last point. After the game it was time to rush to the grocery store. Maybe it’s the Jewish mother in me, but I can’t leave my family without food in the fridge. When my wife, Rachel, was in medical residency, I was the primary care parent for our son, and so I’ve gotten used to stocking the cupboard. Standing in line at the grocery store, I realized that I had left my wallet at home! When the groceries finally made it home, it was time to get ready for the dessert celebration with the family. As we baked brownies, my twin daughters brought me the “so soft and cozy” yellow chamois shirt and had me take off my dress shirt that I was still wearing from the interview. My daughter Kayla said to me the other day that when I wear this shirt she knows that I’m her daddy, but when I wear my author shirts (i.e. dress shirts) she doesn’t. Tomorrow at the first reading when I’m thanking my family for all of the sacrifices they have made to get to publication day (being married to a writer is no doubt its own level of Dante’s Inferno and having a father who is a writer also has its challenges), I will tell Kayla that I am her father whatever shirt I’m wearing. Don Juan never had to worry about juggling work and family. He just had to seduce women, but I think I’ll take the groceries and the brownies.