Still winding down after a fun event at Vintage Bookstore and Wine Bar in Austin, where the launch of The Splendid Ticket took place on Tuesday. And tonight, another event, at Batch Craft Beer and Kolaches (3220 Manor Road, Austin), where I will sit in conversation with The Austin Chronicle‘s Wayne Alan Brenner, and discuss books and writing and heaven knows what else. There should be a great turnout, as Brenner (he is best known by his enduring mononym) is a longtime Austin culture and arts impresario with a league of rabid admirers. The second great draw for the evening is LOTE, Austin’s great caravan of cuisine, accessible just inches away from the main happening. The third draw is the BEER. Batch is Bat City’s premier craft beer hub, with new creations available weekly. I will say that honorable mention goes to Batch’s cinnamon buns, available in the mornings only. They are dangerous objects, highly addictive, and available only at Batch, where the baker-sorcerers create them in gold crucibles. I understand there are already three Batch-Cin-Bun-Anon chapters in full operation, with nightly meetings in the 512 area code. So: Come to BATCH tonight, for literature, beer, and tacos, but drop by tomorrow morning to start your new cinnamon-bun habit.
It’s finally here, publication day for The Splendid Ticket, a book that took eight years from the first scribbled lines in 2014 to the finished product that can be found on the shelves of fine bookstores everywhere, plus Amazon. Tonight there will be a launch event at Vintage Bookstore and Wine Bar at 1101 East 11th Street in Austin, from 7:00-8:00 PM. I have no idea what to expect. I am prepared for crushing mob, just in case, with thousands of copies of all my books, six bodyguards that look like Randall Tex Cobb’s older brothers, plenty of one-dollar bills for change should anyone come with cash, enough stanchions joined by velvet rope to stretch sixteen city blocks, and a crowd-control specialist who managed the Queen’s Jubilee. Venmo QR codes everywhere. I realize this may be overdoing it. I’m pretty sure my parents are coming, and my wife, but apart from that, the only thing I am absolutely certain of is that when it is all over I will drink some wine at the bar, and count my lucky stars that The Splendid Ticket somehow made it to the shelves without getting picked off on the way like a baby sea turtle scuttling for the surf.
Well, it’s finally almost out! It’s been a long road for this book, nearly eight years, from the original short story, titled “The Daily Racing Form,” to its expansion into a 130,000-word novel, and its later reduction to its present, modest 80,000 words. It’s had a few titles, too—The Instant of the Mothers (for a brief period; this was loathed by my agent), to The Misery Ticket (a more literal title), with Misery finally replaced with the more satirical Splendid. I think the best part about this book is the cover. The art is by the estimable Masha Krasnova-Shabaeva, and the design by McSweeney’s sorcerer Sunra Thompson. The cover was inspired by an 1818 painting by Caspar David Friedrich, called “The Wanderer”:
I hope you’ll take a chance on this book! It can be had at purveyors of fine books everywhere, plus Amazon 🙂
It’s been 11 days since I’ve posted to The Blog. Part of the reason for this is I really have nothing to add about where I am in the process of publishing the new book. I’m pretty excited about it; I feel lucky as hell that it’s happening at all; I can’t wait for fall when it’s supposed to come out. But that all goes without saying, really. It’s tempting to invent something exciting, like, say, Joyce Carol Oates and George Saunders are going to blurb the novel, or The New Yorker is going to publish it serially over 20 issues, or, the Nobel Prize Committee is considering a special medal to bestow upon the sallow chest of yours truly because of my contributions to the literary firmament. But none of this is true. None. What’s really happening is that the proofreader is coming back and suggesting I add a few commas, take a few commas away, and capitalize “Internet.” But that’s it. Nothing else to say about this book. Thus, 11 blog-days of silence. But today it was pointed out to me that it’s my blog, and because of this, I don’t have to write about the novel at all. I can write about anything I want. I could discuss the bottlecap collection I’d amassed as a six-year-old in Pampa, Texas. (It could fill a small bathtub, and did.) I could write about my frustrations trying to understand Levi Strauss’s binary opposites. I could talk about the time I nearly electrocuted myself pushing a defective doorbell. I could pass on my two favorite quotations (“If there is anyone who owes everything to Bach, it is surely God,” and “Beware thinkers whose minds are fueled by a quotation;” both by Emil Cioran). I could complain about wreckers, mechanics, car salespeople, and everyone else in the extended auto industry, and curse them all for the injustices they have visited upon me over the years. I could express my horror and helplessness at the plastic loops of trash garroting creatures in the sea. I could tell you stories about being homeless in Boston in the 1980s, and the time the Guardian Angels beat me up and took my boots in Kenmore Square. I could tell you harrowing stories about friends doomed by mental illness. I have a good story about running a poker game in a sawmill. And another story about a book I had that was owned by a scientist who studied radioactivity in the 1930s. The book made Geiger counters clack and pop, really. Or I could tell you about writing a children’s book in five weeks, then editing it for four years. I could tell you about a short story I wrote about a young family who suffers a terrible tragedy, then wins a massive lottery, and how it was suggested that I expand the story into a novel, and how I listened to this counsel and took three years writing the thing. It’s a decent book, and it has characters I like, and others who are so loathsome that you root for their gory demise. The book is called The Splendid Ticket, and it’ll be out in the fall. All I have to do is obey the proofreader, and fix the commas. Then wait.
Thank you so much for visiting the new website! I’m very excited about my new novel, titled The Splendid Ticket. It’s due out this September. The final proofread is in the bag, I’m glad to report. (The publisher’s eagle-eyed proofreader found a bunch of stuff everyone else had overlooked!) Now working on cover art, as well as ideas for publicity and marketing. Potential blurbers are being approached, but no takers yet. And trying to settle on an excerpt of the book to include in the August issue of McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. Meanwhile, working on two other books, though I seem to have written myself into tight little plot corners in both of them. Where’s my narrative sledgehammer? Help!