Falling behind on my wrapping (up)


ST. LOUIS: What you’re about to read happened days ago, and I’m just getting around to filing a blog report. I’m on a train right now to New York to do a reading tonight at the Half King bar in Chelsea. It starts at 7 p.m., if you’re anywhere nearby.

But backing up: I have to say, my stop in St. Louis might well have been my favorite. Nikki and Melissa at Pudd’nHead Books have been enormously supportive of Tinsel. They’ve been everything you’d want a bookstore to be — local, quirky, helpful and they get it. Nikki put my book on a list of her favorite books of the year and has been working on getting me to come out there since July. I’m so glad I did. Curtis Sittenfeld, newish St. Louis resident and also a Tinsel champ, came and got me Wednesday afternoon at the hotel and we went out to Pudd’nHead to say hi, shop for books and – this was really the most delightful part – gab about books we love and books we don’t. There is nothing more satisfying than two writers browsing a good store and really slagging on some overrated other writers. Whom did we agree that we despise? Oh, wouldn’t you like to know. Not to worry, neurotic literati: we did a lot of kvelling, too. We probably spent more time talking about what we lurve.

The Puddn’Head-ers, along with Curtis, put on an excellent event at COCA that night – we had cookies, egg nog and a super-smart audience of 40 or so people. I got to hang out with my friends John and Mary Pat O’Gorman at their house for a while beforehand – and get just a sample of life with their all-girl band: Lucy, Edie and Alice. At the COCA event, people had excellent questions and several had read the book already and wanted to know more, more, more. One woman needed to talk to me about her theory that I really am a “believer” and I just don’t know it. (“You believe in things,” she persuasively scolded me. “You believe, for example, in journalism ethics. …”)


Hank defends his beliefs to Inquisitor Donna, while Curtis Sittenfeld greets more fans.

Another woman brought me her homemade monkey bread, the delectable poppin’-fresh dessert that makes a cameo appearance in Chapter 15. How wonderful is that? I can’t believe someone actually made me monkey bread and I also can’t believe I forgot to get her name and e-mail so I could properly thank her. But these things move really fast when the Sharpie is out and the line is forming. While I signed copies of Tinsel, Curtis signed her 1,000-times-more-superior novels, American Wife and Prep.


Hank and Curtis, radiating holiday warmth in our black peacoats, but ready for pizza now.

After that, a gang of us adjourned to Pi, which, as I was told a few times, makes President Obama’s favorite Chicago-style pizza. (I believe it!) I am ready to move to St. Louis just to hang out forever with Curtis and her husband Matt and their daughter (whom I saw only via iPhone movies, but still). I’m sure this is not at all what they had in mind, but I hope that they had fun.

And not hours after I left did Curtis pick Tinsel as her favorite book of the year in this Salon round-up of writers’ favorite reads of 2009. I mean, gosh.

And that monkey bread? It was perfect. I ate some on the plane back to D.C. and saved the rest for Michael, as instructed. Man, I was glad to see him when I got home. I was gone 11 days this trip. What will we ever do in a few weeks, when Tinsel isn’t hogging all our time?

2089760590_8a132a193cRESTON, Va.: Tinsel went back to the exurbs on Saturday. My friend Tamara Jones threw a sweet little get-together at her NoVa house that afternoon for old friends. Then some of us went on to the Reston Barnes & Noble for my reading at 5 p.m., smartly bribing customers with Tammy’s famous brownies. I think the combination of free sweets and my (ahem) reading style may have attracted a few new fans. Thank you, Tammy, for the good times.

REVIEWS AND MORE: They’re still coming, and they’re still pretty good, thank Baby Jesus …

• A San Jose Mercury News review is here.

• A San Antonio Express-News review is here.

• The West End Word (that would be St. Louis’s west end, cue Pet Shop Boys) had this to say here.

• And the Canadians have a look, in Maclean’s, here, and that lady who reads a book every day had this to say, over on Huffington Post.

• The less said about Steve Blow, the better, but still, what fun it is to ride in his one-horse open slay. (Har.) Especially with the Frontburner chatterers coming so swiftly to my defense. (Because frankly, I was stumped: How do you tell — or do you even bother to tell — a guy named “Steve Blow” to go fuck himself? I decided you just don’t. But, as it turns out, they’ve been doing it for years in Dallas. And when they do, he takes his football home.)

• Moving on to cheerier things, yes? Such as Debbie Gallagher of Cedar Hill, Texas, who read the book and then had something incisive to say about it.

• Also, the ol’ Life & Times section at The Maroon (my alma mater) wrote this story. Thanks to the reporter Ashley Stevens, who kept me company on the road to Bellingham, via a phone interview. Not to make myself feel superold, but this would be the equivalent of me getting assigned to interview an alum from the Class of ’70, which might not have interested me in the least. But Ashley did a great job of humoring this old ’80s-era Maroon-ie.

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