Thursday, October 09, 2008

The launch the launch the launch


Okay, right away City Lights is emotional because all these wonderful writers and friends who I respect and admire are showing up early and I’m all edgy but happy at the same time and all chatty before I start reading, nervous that the microphone is distorting my voice a bit and I want all of the resonances of my reading to stand out, right? I mean I work on that.

I’ve never done a reading downstairs on the main floor at City Lights, usually it’s upstairs or once in the basement because on the main floor they have to move all the shelves but it’s spacious and light and so so glamorous – and packed all the way to the back where people are standing in the entryway, and then a group of City Lights employees are standing upstairs in the office looking down, it’s fun to be surrounded, I mean surrounded while I’m reading and oh I’m touched by the people who are part of my immediate friend circle and then also the people who I rarely see, all here tonight and everyone is really intent on my words although they’re awfully quiet is what I’m thinking, maybe it’s because there’s live jazz outside on the street or it’s the way the microphone amplifies my voice in a strange way and I’m focused on that or it’s the way the space is open so people’s voices don’t echo as much or maybe people are just quiet that’s the way some audiences are, here is seems like people are focused intently on the words but not as much laughing as I’m used to or no there’s a lot of laughing but it’s not all-out explosive except for Gina de Vries who I hear on the sidelines, yay!

I like catching people’s eyes or surveying the expressions as I’m reading I can tell people are really paying attention I like that. And lots of applause, yay for applause, starting at the beginning before I read -- that's extra-exciting. Lots of questions afterwards – someone wants to know my favorite drug combination, well of course it’s starting with Xanax and then two cocktails a few bumps of coke leading to ecstasy before tons of K and pot and back to Xanax to go to bed, I mean when I did drugs. Someone else wants to know how much of the book I wrote when I was on drugs – none, darling! Which reminds me that even when I did drugs and loved them, I never wanted to write while on drugs because if I depended on them for my creativity I would never stop – drugs were something else for me, I wanted to be so high I didn’t have to think about anything in this world, no nothing really nothing I wanted to be somewhere else.

Although I see how the way I write in So Many Ways to Sleep Badly is kind of like drugs and of course I talk about drugs and there’s a way in which the focus on voice and tone and texture over conventional plot structure kind of makes you feel drugged-out and then there’s the insomnia angle which shifts the writing oh and someone asks if I ever sleep well, maybe a few times in my life, I mean really a few times. And if I’ve had any revealing interactions with people since the book came out, people who are upset about how I represented them – yes yes, but before the book came out—two people who were completely scandalized by the tiniest things like I can’t believe you said I didn’t take school seriously – honey, that was a compliment! But really – two central characters, and the people who inspired those characters were so concerned about these tiny things about how I was representing them, but not interested in working on our relationships at all!

Oh – a question about why I don’t love New York, well because it’s a consumerist monoculture, right? Oh, and my writing process, which I always love talking about, especially in the context of fibromyalgia and how it changed my writing and how I was able to use it in a way that really expanded the potential even if I’m still stuck in pain. Then, why the cover is a bit different from my other covers, well because City Lights didn’t want it so bright and garish and contrasty and at first I was sad about that, but now I think it looks gorgeous, especially with the matte cover it’s really sensual. And the relationship between my activism and my writing, I think I’m still figuring that one out! So many other great questions it’s so engaged that I almost forget to eat until the end when I start to fade, just before the lineup for book signing, really a lineup I can’t help but say that I love that, especially the chance to interact one-on-one with people after the public engagement and hugs yes hugs I always love hugs.

Sure, afterwards I’m completely exhausted and I can feel my shoulders feet neck hands arms hurting my face clouding over but still a manic energy, now I just need to figure out how to pack and get ready to leave in two days, yes two days.

Oh – and City Lights is starting up a book club – next month the book is So Many Ways to See Badly – it meets on Tuesday, November 11 at 7 PM at the store… And that’s Jack Kerouac reading So Many Ways in the window, in case you’re wondering.

8 comments:

Tony said...

The big night! How exciting. So many wonderful things seem to happen in October - the fall is a great time of year. It is a rebirth experience for, like I imagine spring is for some people...

So I ordered your book last now and paid a little extra to get it here to LA right quick!

I can't wait to read it!

Have fun in Portland, I am gonna let my friend Erin know about your book signing/public speaking engagement at Powell's on Hawthorne. She will LOVE, LOVE, LOVE you.

-Tony

kayti said...

You forgot to list your tour date for New York city on the short list however you have it under details.

I am glad that gina went to the book launch. I was their in spirit.

I hope things go well for you when you visit your sister.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Tony, thanks so much -- I like fall too! And tell Erin to say hello for sure :)

Kayti, I thought maybe you were there :)

And wait, what lists are you looking at? I better correct that immediately, but I see that on the blog list it's there -- maybe in the email announcement?

And my sister?!? I won't be seeing her for a long time -- I guess you're thinking ahead... For now I'm focused on the book tour!

Love --
mattilda

kayti said...

It is in the blog list but I got confused because it was under featured series in the short list. I thought it should be listed as a book tour event after the DC event on December 3 on the short list. On the more detailed list it is clear. I hope you understand what I am talking about.

I was thinking ahead. If you did not know I like to get a early start on worry about things.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Aha -- I have the places where I'm reading in an established series listed separately, since those will have an established audience!

And no need to start worrying yet about that future drama!

Love--
mattilda

Natalie said...

I peered at you from above during the reading, and LOVED it. (All of my friends were running away, so I couldn't stay to say so - but now I regret it!) Anyway, I just felt like it was the best sort of relationship where you made the whole audience feel like your cool best friends, but definitely awestruck by the barrage of pithy insights and amazing balance of humor and seriousness, the interplay between political and personal, self deprecation/ self-consciousness and perfect articulate-ness (oh, degenerating into non-sentences and non-words) - *i shake my jazz-hands of delight at you in non-verbal appreciation and goodwill*

gina said...

i fucking love that jack is learning how to sleep badly from you. thanks for all the details i was so sad to miss. new york can't wait to see you. i bought two copies from bluestockings today-- one for ananda and wade and one for someone else-- and i asked bluestockings if they were sure they had enough books cuz it looked like they only had four left and that is not enough, honey! and should i make some fliers to put up there or something?! i mean i was dropping off switch flyers and i thought, what about mattilda?!
i love you love you love you!
wish i could ride the train with you!
gina

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Natalie, thanks for writing-- and I love non-sentences and non-words, especially when they're/you're so articulate! And I'm so glad to hear that I succeeded in welcoming everyone in the audience, that's what I hope for! And sometime in the future, yes yes please do say hello!

Gina, I can't wait for New York -- I mean for you! And yes yes I'm sure they'll order more copies over there at Bluestockings before the launch, although it can't hurt to check in... and oh, yes let's ride the train together how fun that would be -- tomorrow at 9:30 pm, are you available?

Love --
mattilda