Every city on my book tour so far has been full of surprises. My dad drove Lila and I up to Missoula, Montana in his shiny blue Cadillac. We reinvented travel bingo, and talked, and listened to more of Little House in the Big Woods, and then spent a couple days with my aunt Patricia Forsberg and uncle Stephen Speckart in Missoula, at their cabin in Rock Creek Canyon. We dipped our toes into a lovely pond with a slimy bottom, popped an inner tube, and dunked our hot Houston blood into lots of cold river water. Our bag is also now 20 lbs heavier, filled with heart-shaped rocks that aunt Patricia taught Lila to find when the tubing got too rough for a 6 year old.
We went birding and we reunited with Raj and Vishwa and we ate food from my aunt and uncles garden and we shopped and we all got to know each other anew. Dad returned to Salt Lake the day Raj arrived (he ran out of gas listening to a book on tape and had to be rescued by AAA outside Pocatello) and that night was my reading at Shakespeare and Co.
Every reading has its highlights. In Missoula there were a couple: most exquisitely my old friend Winona introduced me. Though I have friend at every reading, in Missoula aunt Patricia insisted that all writers should have introductions written by their friends, and so I asked Winona. Her introduction was sweet and reminded me of being in college and the long walks and talks we had. She said she’s been carrying around a yellowed story I wrote back then and still reads it yearly, and it was a good thing to hear because I think I always diminish the writing I did in youth.
The reading was filled with ten or so of my aunt Patricia’s best friends, inside a bookstore that was tiny and full of only interesting books you’d love to read. The owner, Garth, reminded me of my friend Chuck because he was all angular and interested and friendly. It was hot inside the store — Missoula was having a heat wave — but the audience laughed and listened and made me very happy.
The next morning I had an interview with Cherie at Missoula NPR’s ‘The Write Question.’ I loved that she asked lots of questions about the plot and about bigamy and that it was very grounded in my novel as opposed to my ideas about the novel. So many people in the world, I’ve discovered in the process of writing and publishing and reading, devote their lives to books. It’s such a generous thing to do, and so important, especially for emerging writers like me. Reporters like Cherie, and the owners of all these independent bookstores, and the people who make it out to readings to see either me or to support a friend who cares about me or just to hear a good story all astound and inspire and humble me. People worry so much about the state of reading and the book, but from my perspective, so far, the passion for the literary is aflame in the world.