Fri 27

Travel Diary: Day #3 (L.A., San Francisco, Mountain View)

Writing Well, I walked into that one. In theory, I should get seven hours sleep after my L.A. reading and be refreshed and ready for the big day ahead. But instead, I write my blog entry until two in the morning, then lie in bed thinking about how cool my day was. When my alarm goes off at 7 a.m., I’ve slept for about three hours, and that in roughly half-hour blocks.

I feel so seedy that I think I’m going to lose my lunch, and a radio station is due to call me in a few minutes for an interview. I think seriously about what I should do if I’m halfway through an answer and suddenly need to barf. My idea is to say, “And another thing, Carl—” then hang up. Hopefully everyone will think there’s been a technical difficulty.

Luckily, this doesn’t prove necessary. But it’s not my best interview; sometimes even I can’t work out what I’m trying to say.

LAX Airport has clearly put a lot of thought into how to best design seats that are impossible to sleep in. But I’m so exhausted I manage to grab 20 minutes sleep by jamming my head against a pillar. I sleep some more on the plane, but I’m on the aisle and get woken by a woman who can’t last the 80-minute flight without using the bathroom. Damn her tiny bladder!

In San Francisco I meet Frank, my media guide. Frank, I learn over the course of the day, has done everything. I’m serious. He’s written a series of bestselling novels, he’s lived all over the world, he’s in a rap band, he’s writing screenplays, he’s developing video game ideas—there is no topic of conversation that doesn’t prompt some amazing revelation from Frank. He makes me wonder what I’ve been doing with my life.

Frank also puts very little store in the opinions of other drivers, even for a media escort. We spend most of the day visiting a series of bookstores and radio stations to a steady background of tooting horns and people yelling, “Asshole!”

I get a couple hours’ downtime at the hotel, where I lie in bed and try not to think about the fact that soon a few dozen people will be staring at me. I still feel a little queasy, and all I’ve eaten all day is a muffin and a few pretzels. But I do get a little sleep, and on the drive to Mountain View for my reading, the adrenalin kicks in. The closer we get, the more awake and ready for action I feel.

It looks like being another big crowd, and Books Inc have to break out extra seats. Then even these run out! It’s standing room only again.

I decide to go to the bathroom before we start, only to discover that it is directly behind the podium. This means that the assembled crowd gets to watch me fumble with the men’s room door key. When I come out again it’s too weird to not say anything, so I announce, “Yes! Here at Books Inc you get to watch authors go pee-pee!”

Then we get started, and it’s a blast. There are fewer people here than in L.A., but they’re very vocal. And they end up buying every copy of Company in the store, which is something like 100 books. They also take all the Syrups and all but two of the Jennifer Governments. It’s incredible.

I love chatting to people while I sign their books, but I feel bad that there’s such a long line, because some people are waiting for up to 90 minutes. I just want to talk to everybody. It’s such a thrill to hear how people found and enjoyed something I wrote; I could do that all night.

I also get to meet Ellis! He is exactly as cool as I always suspected.

I get back to the hotel at midnight. Then there’s the moment I’ve been dreading: I request a wakeup call for 3:50 a.m. Yes, that’s when I have to wake up in order to make my flight to Seattle tomorrow morning. Even I cannot really believe it.

Now I’m hungry, so I tuck into a banana cake that one of my readers baked for me and gave me at the reading. (Oh yes she did.) The bookstore people seemed a little unsure about this, perhaps wondering about the legal ramifications of having an author killed by poison attack on their watch, but it smells pretty good to me. I call Jen and tell her about my latest amazing event in between wolfing down big chunks of banana cake. She’s almost as thrilled as I am. Jen was with me when I visited San Francisco on book tour in 1999 and no-one showed up, so she knows what this means to me.

Fin is awake so I get to listen to her blowing bubbles. So sweet. In Australia, it’s her 5-month birthday.

I’m very tempted to fire up the laptop and write the day’s diary entry, even though I’m already looking at my second straight night of three hours’ sleep. But that would be insane. I come to my senses and instead hit the sack. I continue a newly-established tradition: I turn out all the lights and use my camera’s tiny LCD screen to play a 30-second video of Jen & Fin that I recorded before I left. Jen is holding Fin and Fin is looking sleepy at first and then snuggly and then she does a little smile and they are both utterly, unspeakably beautiful.


This is where site members post comments. If you're not a member, you can join here. There are all kinds of benefits, including moral superiority!

Tim Ashwood (#595)

Location: Sydney
Posted: 5276 days ago

Damn, I'm so happy and excited that people are buying the store out of your books where you appear. Well done. I'm sure it will keep going like this for the rest of the tour.

Picto (#64)

Location: United Kingdom
Quote: "Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark or the man afraid of the light? - Maurice Freehill"
Posted: 5276 days ago

Did you know: Crocodiles swallow stones to help them dive deeper.

Sounds like all is going well over there. Hope you can do a tour of England sometime. Probably won't get as many people but I'll certainly be at, at least, the one nearest to me (if there is one.)

Also, did you know: Horses can sleep standing up.

Rest well, Max.

Douglas Bushong (#44)

Location: America (Virginia)
Quote: "When you are trying to teach someone a new job, it's best to just throw them into the fire and beat them. They'll get sharp or they'll break. Either way, you won't waste precious time teaching them a job that they aren't meant to do."
Posted: 5276 days ago

Wow. I'm so glad to hear that you are having a great time on the tour. I wish you were coming a little closer to Virginia (like maybe Washington DC), but I'll have to wait until your next book, "The Lint Whisperer", comes out.

That bit about watching the video clip really hit home: I did the same thing with my son shortly after he was born. Strangely, it was so pleasant to see but (at the same time) it made the trip unbearable.

Have a good night and a safe trip to your next location. And when it gets tough just remember that your daughter's father is being the best example of achievement that she'll ever have. You're living the dream of every author. Enjoy it!

Yubi Shines (#1664)

Location: Canada
Posted: 5276 days ago


Banana cakes are yummy. Yay for the lady who made it! And yay for all the people who turned up! Wish I could have been there. Not that I'd have anything to sign, I lent my copy of Jennifer Government to my anthropology teacher and I haven't been able to get ahold of either Company or Syrup. I feel sad. :<

But still. Yay!

Ellis Livingston (#121)

Location: San francisco, CA, USA
Quote: "I am the Lord in Heaven.... Bitches....."
Posted: 5276 days ago

Dude, i met him!!!! Max!!!! It was so awesome! Wish I could have talked to him longer. *vibrates*

Machine Man subscriber Bushra (#36)

Location: Fremont, California
Quote: ""
Posted: 5276 days ago

Hi Max, my friend and I had a really good time at the book signing last night. You did a good reading even though you're, y'know, Australian.

Rod McBride (#688)

Location: Gardner, KS
Quote: ""
Posted: 5276 days ago

It does the heart good, hearing about a guy who can actually write getting positive reinforcement in a market that normally considers checking a TV listing as 'reading.'

You've got to come to Kansas City next time, Max. I don't have any leverage to offer on that. Maybe you could lay down some guilt with your publisher that David Sedaris got sent here. Or tell them John Irving came through on tour, he's enough of a commercial success they ought to buy that argument.

Or threaten to turn out to be some middle-aged Brooklyn housewife posing as an Australian dude, that ought to fix their wagon...

Machine Man subscriber Adam (#24)

Location: Morristown, Indiana
Quote: "Why do I blog? Simple, because Max Barry blogs."
Posted: 5276 days ago



Well! It's Friday! I am off of school and ready to play more shows with my band. I have also finished reading Company for the second time...just as good as the first. My friends don't seem to enjoy it as much as I do, but I still will stand by my belief in that it is in Max Barry's top 3 books. Just Kidding. It was excellent no matter what anyone says. Also, it's pretty awesome that you sold around 100 books in San Francisco!

Hey Max Barry...I am glad that things are going well for you. Hopefully, your trip will continue to be exciting!


mathew shember (#2063)

Location: San Jose, California
Quote: "Enlitenment comes from knowing you are an idiot"
Posted: 5276 days ago

It was good seeing you again Max!

I must say you have improved since the time you presented Jennifer Goverment.

Started reading the company and am liking it so far. The donut bit must be a common thing of companies. My wife offerd up some stories about people in hers. I should send them to you some time.

Hope you are feeling better and hope the book tour continues to get good!

I must say the line was much longer then last time. I think you doubled if not tripled your crowd this time.

Take care!

Nathan (#4)

Location: Seattle - USA
Quote: ""I have a fictional novel." Sure you do, make sure you call it that to an agent!"
Posted: 5276 days ago

Max, welcome to Seattle! The rain came back just in time for your arrival.

Machine Man subscriber Emmaus (#1692)

Location: North Carolina, USA
Quote: "How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?"
Posted: 5276 days ago

I love the travel diary. Don't even think about stopping it.

(Don't take my "threat" as serious, do what you want to do , but just be aware that I do thoroughly enjoy it.)

Machine Man subscriber Katrina (#847)

Location: SF, CA
Quote: "Good sex is like good Bridge: if you don't have a good partner, you'd better have a good hand." -- Mae West"
Posted: 5276 days ago

I'm glad you liked the banana bread. :D I was a bit worried they wouldn't let you eat it >_> But, no, no razor blades in the middle :P

Company was completely enthralling, this weekend I'm going back and reading it again! And then giving it to my roommate that works in a cubicle farm.

And keep in mind you'll see your wife and cute little baby girl *really* soon. And that you should post more pictures of Finlay up for us to oooh and aaah over too.

Hobbie (#1359)

Location: Cornwall, England
Quote: "There was a little man in his hair!"
Posted: 5275 days ago

Maybe I should send him a banana cake in the post or something... with a special brand of knock-out drug in it! Aha! Then we'll fly him to the UK and FORCE him to tour here!

Coincidentally, if you are kidnapped Max, and the police get involved, then this entire post is a total joke. Heh...

Nathan (#4)

Location: Seattle - USA
Quote: ""I have a fictional novel." Sure you do, make sure you call it that to an agent!"
Posted: 5275 days ago

Some fans are rather frightening :)

James (#1739)

Location: Los Gatos, CA
Quote: "I am a silly."
Posted: 5275 days ago

I was afraid of feeling like a gigantic dork having you sign all three books, but then I looked around and saw the huge piles other people had. I wasn't the only one who brought all three books of the Max Barry Trilogy (Barrilogy?). The people in front of is had a few books, but i think those were meant for multiple people (doesn't count) There was a girl behind us who also had the trifecta. She seemed pretty nifty and I regret not getting her name when I could, especially brcause we were all carrying little slips of paper with our names on them anyway. I'm pretty sure I saw someone with at leat 5 books to sign, and someone these even had a .hardcover. Syrup.

Now that's hardcore.

My roommate was concidering asking you to join us for some drinks or a bite to eat on us afterwards, but after finding out you had a 3:30am wake-up call the next morning I'm really really glad she didn't. (as opposed to merely relieved)

We had a great time at the reading/QA/signing. Feel free to come back anytime! It would probably make more sense to wait until your next book, but whenever is good...

Oh, I don't know if you noticed, but someone was kind enough to bring a huge box of donuts for everyone to eat. Of course, when I went to get mine.. I found an empty box. Someone had taken the last donut just a few seconds before.

I found this strangely appropriate.

Shivaun (#50)

Location: melbourne
Quote: "we must go to the party in order to drink a lot and dance with girls"
Posted: 5275 days ago

'What about Australia?' that's what I want to know? When's the book being released here? Am going into book stores on regular basis asking, is it here yet? Get very blank looks. Can't wait for more readings here in Melb. I had my copy of Syrup signed way back when, when Max came and did a talk at my editing class at Uni, but one of my awful friends has 'misplaced' it on me. Now I have to get a new copy of Syrup AND new friends. Max, hope to see you soon at 'Readings' (last time was a blast) and enjoy the American tour (do you feel like a rock star yet?)

towr (#1914)

Location: Netherlands
Posted: 5275 days ago

If I ever invent (or steal (or borrow)) a time machine, I'm so gonna have been there..

Tim K (#788)

Location: California
Posted: 5274 days ago

Great to see you at Books Inc. and kudos to Katrina for providing food. This tour is insane, but I'm sure by the next one, you will command the respect due a bestselling author with movie screenplay credentials. We're talking limos, champagne and expenses paid for the whole family. Of course, when you get that famous you won't have to tour anyway.

Tyler Elliott (#1583)

Location: California
Posted: 5272 days ago

I live in the Bay Area, but right now I am away in college and was so disappointed that I would not be able to make the signing in Mountain View. Keep rocking, or else.

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