Friday, October 12, 2007

CRITICAL MASS: New Orleans Knows How to Throw a Book Party

The pit bull party has been the talk of the book industry (okay, I may be exaggerating slightly). The National Book Critics Circle has a bit about it on their blog:CRITICAL MASS: New Orleans Knows How to Throw a Book Party

And so does GalleyCat. Meow.

Notes from my farewell tour

Advisory: This post was written while waiting in LAX for a increasingly delayed departure. I'm really not always this cranky.

Before this tour began for "Dogs I Have Met" I knew that it would be the last time I embarked on anything resembling a tour. This isn't to say I'll never travel again or promote my future books, just that it will definitely be scaled back because I'm just too old to be bothered by it. Not that I'm that old. It's just things like this:

1. After packing in the middle of the night and sneaking out of the house to leave the dogs with a sitter, I awoke on my flight to Los Angeles and for the first time in my life felt the kind of motion sickness that afflicts children. For about an hour, I had my head between my knees, breathing into a bag. No doubt the people next to me loved this.

2. Arriving in Los Angeles, I rent a car and drive to Irvine. It is only early afternoon, but traffic is horrendous. At the offices of Bow Tie (Dog Fancy, etc.) I tape an interview for their website. The lights are hot. The people are nice. I get choked up talking about the pit bulls that many readers have written to me about. And then, because it isn't live, I am asked to answer all of the questions again, so they get a close up. (There isn't anything unusual about this, but it stretches to two hours what will eventually be a three minute clip.)

3. Traffic is worse on the way back to LA. I stop and sign stock at two stores along the way, then give up because I'm due at the Federal Building to tape another interview. I call to say I'm running late. I call again to say I'm running later. The interview goes well, and we finish at 5:30pm. At this point I've been awake for about 18 hours and the only thing I've had to eat is an Egg McMuffin in Dallas and a cookie in Irvine.

4. I have 90 minutes to get to Borders in West Hollywood, which is about three or four miles away. It takes an hour to drive that far. The manager used to live in New Orleans. We talk about how things are. They have a ton of books, but somehow the event hasn't been listed anywhere. I already know that my own friends are unlikely to show--my brother has been cast in a play; Patricia has to pick up her son; and as I fought my way through traffic, I thought, really, who would drive through this to come. But my old classmate Katherine Taylor shows up early, then a student and his boyfriend. We sit and talk informally, consider going for drinks, then they convince me to actually read. "Maybe more people will sit down." The reason they have to ask me to begin is that no one from the store is bothering to do anything to start the event. There is no introduction.

Miraculously, more people do sit down once I've begun. Not a huge crowd, but everyone buys multiple copies when we're done. Then I sign stock. Then I have to hunt down someone from the store to give me autographed copy stickers. Then my friends help me sticker the books. Then we shelve the books for the store. Then we leave.

5. I check into my hotel around midnight after finally getting something to eat. I call the airline to move my flight from 7am to 10am. I sleep, but wake up at six to get everything packed again, get my car from the valet, fill the tank and arrive at the airport to discover my flight has been delayed.

6. On the other hand, sometimes no listing is better than one like this: "You know what's really missing from my library? A book about canine rescue dogs. Thank you, thank you, Ken Foster and Dogs I Have Met: And the People They Found! My literary life is now complete." That's the listing in Wilamette Week for my reading at Powell's this coming Monday. The writer, Annie Bethancourt, apparently aspires to be a writer or critic when she's not strumming her guitar and teaching surfing in Costa Rica. Yet it is kind of hard to tell exactly what the point of her snarky tone might be. Does she not like dogs? Does she not like my writing? Did she even look at the book? Nah, if she had, she may have at least noticed that the beginning takes place in her surf-turf: Costa Rica. The most unfortunate part is that she doesn't even get the date of the reading correct.

7. I talk to the dogsitter. Sula is very unhappy and making herself sick. She and I have that in common I guess.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"48 Hours" airs a piece on New Orleans this Saturday

The CBS News Show "48 Hours" has been in New Orleans since last January, filming scenes and interviewing people for a show on the murders of Helen Hill and Dinerral Shavers, the march to city hall, and the whole crime problem. Over the course of the production, I spoke to the producers on numerous occasions, so often, in fact, that I sort forgot what they were here to do. But I will say that there's a chance that you will see me in the background somewhere. I say this because years ago I appeared in the background of a short produced segment on Oprah, and after it aired I was bombarded with calls from friends asking, "Why didn't you tell us you were going to be on Oprah?"

But please watch the show, not for the chance to see a corner of my head, but to hear from Yolanda Adams (Dinerral's mom), Nakita Shavers (his sister), his students and bandmates, as well as Jake Hill (Helen's brother), Dr. Paul (her husband) and others whose lives have been directly impacted by these crimes. It airs Saturday at 10 ET.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Live interview today on Wisconsin Public Radio

I'll be a guest on "Conversations with Kathleen Dunn" Tuesday October 9th at 10am Central time. It will be an hour long talk, so...I'm curious to see what we end up discussing. You can listen in--or find the broadcast archives--at the WPR website.

Also, for anyone in Wisconsin, I've added a public event following my appearance at the WLA next week. I'll be at Readers Loft in Green Bay on October 18th at 7pm.

Monday, October 08, 2007

West Coast Tour Begins This Week

I'll be on the West Coast later this week, so if you are out there, please join me for the following events:
Los Angeles: Thursday October 11 at Borders/West Hollywood (La Cienega) 7pm
San Francisco: Friday October 12 at Booksmith on Haight Street, 7pm
Corte Madera: Saturday October 13 at Book Passage, 2:00pm
Alameda: Saturday October 13 at Books Inc., 6:30 pm
Capitola: Sunday October 14 at Capitola Book Cafe 2:30pm
Portland/Beaverton: Monday October 15 at Powell's Beaverton location, 7pm

Also, if you happen to read Vanity Fair, there's a brief mention of Dogs I Have Met in the "Hot Type" column.

Last night I had a horrible dream...

sulanap, originally uploaded by kfoz.

in which someone stole Sula and killed her. I hate to even post this, but there is a point.

So someone stole Sula and Brando, and shot them. But then, because it was a dream, somehow Brando returned. I kept looking for Sula, and as I did, some reporters stopped me to ask if I would comment on something involving crime. "I can't," I explained, "someone stole my dog and killed her." As I said this, I anticipated their asking for more information, creating a report that would air on the news. But they didn't. It wasn't the story they were looking for.

Meanwhile, more facts emerged. At least twenty dogs had been taken--not just my own. But still, no one seemed to care or listen. At one point, Sula showed up, by then, within the dream, I knew that she wasn't really Sula, just some willful conjuring of her. My dog was gone, and I would never see her again.

And, as with most awful dreams, this is when I woke up. Brando was asleep at my side. Sula was with Zephyr in the other room. Why had my brain created this horrible narrative? Then I remembered a conversation I'd had Sunday afternoon, about the situation in Garfield Heights, Ohio:

A new ordinance takes effect October 24th that calls for pit bulls to be removed from city limits. The ban applies to any dogs whose blood line is that of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull or any dog "whose appearance or characteristics render it identifiable as partially of one or more such breeds." Owners who fail to comply face a third degree misdemeanor citation which calls for up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. The city also claims the right to have the dog removed to a shelter and if necessary to be destroyed (which is no doubt what will happen, since they won't be able to adopt them out.) And the first to go will be any dogs whose owners did the responsible thing by registering them with the city.