A Series of Rather Nice Things

It has been a busy, fun couple of months. I’ve been writing books for a while (10 years since I sold my first novel!) and I’ll tell you, there have been many months in my career that have been less busy and less fun. This is to say, I appreciate the busy, fun times quite a lot.

I went to ABA Winter Institute in January. When I arrived at the Seattle airport, there were posters for The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry in the Hudson Bookstores!

hudson bookstores fikry

My publisher Algonquin and Litographs, a company whose products I’ve long admired, made these The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry t-shirts to give to the booksellers at Winter Institute. The entire text of the book is printed on these shirts.

litographs tees

In February, I went to Toronto for a few prelaunch events for Fikry. The prelaunch party Penguin Canada threw had clever (and tasty) book-themed food.

canadian party food fikry

For the next week or so, you can listen to an abridged version of A.J. Fikry on the popular BBC 4 program Books at Bedtime. My mom is listening and she says it’s great! Here’s a picture of Frank posing with some of my favorite books for the BBC website.

favorites zevin

Who is Frank? Frank is the rescue pug my guy and I adopted from Pug Nation Los Angeles. He was abandoned near a park. Frank is all about love except for the part of him that is all about breakfast.

Amazingly, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is the #1 Indie Next Pick and the #1 LibraryReads Selection for April 2014. I can’t thank all the booksellers and librarians enough.

And although the book isn’t out until April, quite a few bookstores have put it on their shelves early. The Book Frog of Rolling Hills Estates, California made this display, which features a Tamerlane-reading baby!

book frog display

Finally, I’ll be on book tour beginning April 1st. Although AJ Fikry is a book for adults, my YA readers should feel free to come out, too. And please do come! I am not J.K. Rowling level popular (in case you didn’t know!), which means I usually get to truly meet the people who attend my events. Find the schedule here.

Finally, finally, it’s Spring! This is me with my girl, Edie. She came from a wonderful organization called the Mutt Scouts that is dedicated to rescuing mixed breed dogs from shelters. She is a goddess.

gabi and edie

One of the more absurd ways a book quote of mine has ever been used. Also, I didn’t personally say this – a dog character in Elsewhere did.

tuesday hijinks #2: last week at the CBC Extreme Trivia Challenge. I’m at Scholastic — hence the big, red dog — but still managing to represent for my paperback publisher Square Fish. 

Miscellany Bonanza: Starring a Ridiculous Picture of My Dog in a Hat

“My Dog in a Hat”

Also, a nifty feature in the Chicago Tribune where a reader reviews The Hole We’re In.

And finally, an agreeably prickly quote on criticism from Graydon Carter in the NY Times Book Review‘s review of Martin Amis’s new novel:

“Writing, remember, is the only art in which the creator is publicly judged by people who do precisely the same thing, but as a rule less well.”*

*I assume this may be a reference to a different quote that was in Martin Amis’s memoir, Experience. Graphic dentistry passages notwithstanding, Experience is one of my favorite books about writing. The pencil mark is someone else’s and should be ignored. I had scanned this quote years ago to e-mail to a despondent writer friend, which is why I happen to have it around.

the writing life #5

Though I have resided in my current apartment for over four years, last Sunday I noticed that I live on the same street where Dorothy Parker once lived.

I adored Dorothy Parker as a teen and into my twenties. Readers of Margarettown and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac (and watchers of Conversations with Other Women) may even note certain thematic resonances in the following poem:

“Indian Summer”
by Dorothy Parker

In youth, it was a way I had
To do my best to please,
And change, with every passing lad
To suit his theories.

But now I know the things I know
And do the things I do;
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you.

For further Dorothy Parker reading, I recommend The Portable Dorothy Parker.

gratuitous dog love

Nico the Pug

To all the readers who wrote in and continue to write in about the death of my dog last October, thank you so much. I just wanted to let you know that not long after Mrs. DeWinter’s passing, I ended up getting a rescue dog. His name is Nico, and he’ll be ten this year. I can’t say enough good things about Nico or the truly amazing people who run the rescue. Nico’s already had about a million adventures in the six months since he moved in with me. For readers of ELSEWHERE, I’d say he’s more like Sadie (or even Bandit from the Prologue) than Lucy.

P.S. If you’re thinking about getting a dog, go for a rescue!

Gabrielle Settles the Question

The most popular question I am asked by readers, both young and old, is whether I believe in Elsewhere. Whether I think that, when we die, we go to a place where we age backwards until we are born again. The simple answer is I don’t. As I’ve said many times, I wrote ELSEWHERE because I wanted to write about the things that matter to me in this life, the life we are in, and the only life I know for certain. I wanted to write a story that talked about the essential questions of life: as I see it, how do we continue to love when we know we will surely lose? Why is it worth it to BE in this life when, eventually, everyone you love and everyone who loves you will one day be gone? ELSEWHERE was my attempt to answer those questions, and my answer is that a life consists of many beautiful and small moments, and one most be conscious and grateful for all of them as much as possible
I think many of you will know that the other reason I wrote ELSEWHERE is for my dog. A character based on her begins the book and well (SPOILER ALERT!) appears again.
My dog died today. She was a wonderful companion to me — every book I’ve written (4 and 1/2) she sat on my lap and I really don’t know if I’ll know how to write a book without her there. For the record, I don’t think she is in Elsewhere, but some tiny, tiny part of me likes to think that she might be.