MaxBarry.com
slippery when wet

Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

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Wed 01
Feb
2006

Travel Diary: Day #9 (New York)

Writing It’s a choice between sleep and breakfast, and I go with sleep. I’m sorry for writing about sleep so much; it’s just that it has become very important to me. I have realized that if I don’t sleep, I don’t do the things I need to on this tour well—things like talking to people. So a lot of my time is spent considering when I will sleep, and where, and for how long.

I’m met at my hotel by Rachel, who is my publicist at Doubleday. Rachel has been working for months at getting me reviewed, interviewed, and hosted all over the country: basically she organizes everything, then I just turn up and take all the glory. She is terrific, and great company as we are driven around Manhattan in one of those tinted-window town cars. (It’s all tinted-window town cars here; that and cabs and stretch limos.) I ask her why there was no Chicago stop on this tour (which people keep asking me about), and she tells me it’s because everyone at Doubleday hates Chicago. Okay, no, not really. It’s actually something to do with the difficulty of booking enough media to justify the stopover. Which I think is fair enough, given the publisher is paying for all this. But I do let her know that if I don’t get any Midwest stopovers on my next tour, people may hurt me.

First stop is WNYC radio. I’ve done enough radio interviews on this tour to be quite comfortable about it, but here the corridor I have to walk down to reach the sound booth is lined with posters of various celebrities with the tag line, “I’m a listener.” I suddenly find myself confronted with the unnerving image of Sarah Jessica Parker reclining at home with the radio on, thinking, “Who is this Australian jerk?”

Despite that distraction, the interview goes well and then it’s off for a round of bookstore drop-ins. These are becoming defined for me by the big titles currently out, especially Stephen King’s Cell, which is front and center in practically every store I’ve visited. I hope that one day some struggling midlist writer on book tour looks at enormous piles of my books and thinks enviously, “That damn Max Barry! His new book is everywhere.”

One of the bookstores I visit is St. Mark’s, which I realize is the first store in which I ever saw a copy of my own book. Let me tell you, this is one of the most magical moments of becoming a published author. I’ll never forget seeing Syrup sitting on the shelves, as if it was a real book. Of course, if St. Mark’s held true to the general trend, they probably never sold that copy. It was probably returned to the publisher and pulped. But still. Magical, I tell you.

Next is a Barnes & Noble, and it’s memory lane again because it’s across from a park where I once played with some squirrels. I know, I know: to Americans—or, indeed, to residents of any country where there are squirrels—they are nasty little disease bags. But I think they’re wonderful. I love the way they spring from place to place. I could watch that for hours. In fact, I have, and taken photos.

When I swipe my hotel card to get back into my room, it flashes red at me. I go back to the lobby and get a new card, and, when this produces no change, get security up to fix it. The security guy tries the card, and it flashes red… and he turns the handle, and it opens. Oh. I just assumed that red meant no go. Because this is a nice hotel, the security guy says carefully, “I guess it must have started working again.”

I catch a cab to my reading and realize why there is so much honking of car horns in New York: it’s all because of this one cabbie. He drives with one hand resting on the horn, tooting everyone, even if they’re not doing anything special. He pre-emptively toots people he thinks might be considering something. And if someone dares to toot back, he goes nuts, firing off loud volleys of counter-toots.

My reading is at Rocky Sullivan’s, a pub, and it’s a full room even when I arrive. Before we start, I decide to go around and hand out the publisher-provided donuts, and I can see some people trying to figure out if I am really me. Some clearly assume I’m not, but rather just some wacko handing out donuts, then get embarrassed when they find out.

It’s a very fun reading, and knowing it’s my last one makes it a little poignant, too. I manage to read the sentence “Elizabeth’s throat thickens” without messing up for the first time on tour. At last! It’s a little victory.

Then, all of a sudden, it’s over. I catch the subway back to my hotel, get a little lost, and now here I am. As much as I’m looking forward to getting home, I’m also kind of sad this is over. When I had the idea to do this travel diary, I honestly thought I’d be writing about the completely unglamorous job of trekking from city to city, visiting uninterested bookstores, and hoping desperately for more than five people to turn up to a reading. Instead it has been wildly more successful than I imagined. I can still hardly believe how rock star the whole thing has become.

Thanks so much to everyone who turned out in L.A., Mountain View, Seattle, Portland, and New York. You made this tour unforgettable for me.

Tomorrow I go home.

Comments

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Nathan (#4)

Location: Seattle - USA
Quote: ""I have a fictional novel." Sure you do, make sure you call it that to an agent!"
Posted: 5039 days ago

You're welcome :)

Adam A. (#256)

Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Quote: "Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that." -George Carlin"
Posted: 5039 days ago

Congrats on the success of the tour. Try to get your publishers to get you more cities on the next one.

Machine Man subscriber Dave (#29)

Location: Seattle
Posted: 5039 days ago

Good job on the tour, Max.

Your squirrel episode reminds me of the Japanese student we hosted who absolutely HAD to have a picture of a squirrel. She told us they have them in zoos in Japan. Crazy. Mindless little rodents.

Brad Lee (#1964)

Location: Lubbock, Texas, U.S.A.
Quote: "Everyone dies at some point, why not go on your own terms, at your own discretion. Naked covered in syrup. Yeah."
Posted: 5039 days ago

Congrats on the tour having went well, for sure though, Chicago and Houston next tour.

Tim Ashwood (#595)

Location: Sydney
Posted: 5039 days ago

See here for downloads of Max's interviews on WNYC
http://www.wnyc.org/shows/lopate/episodes/02012006

Phill Sacre (#1822)

Location: London, UK
Quote: "Computers are like air conditioners. Both stop working, if you open windows."
Posted: 5039 days ago

Squirrels, eh? This is what happens when you cross bored university students with squirrels: http://www.eecs.harvard.edu/~yaz/en/squirrel_fishing.html (and no, that's not me, although my old uni was full of 'em. And rabbits. And I definitely did not spend half of a drunken night chasing a rabbit around the university campus, I swear).

*ahem* I'm glad to hear that the book tour has gone well and that you're getting the recognition you deserve :-) When are you going to do a tour in England?

SilverCloud (#2038)

Location: SANTA MONICA ,CA.U.S.A.
Quote: "Fortune Favors the Brave"
Posted: 5039 days ago

You would love the ground squirrels of the Desert, they feed right along with the quails, road runners, large white lizards(about 12"long)and morning doves of course.
Congrats on your successful tour....
Next tour you need to get on TV, The best book seller is Don Imus Show,T.V. MSNBC EST 6am-9am....WFAN Radio 6am-10am..NYC

Kalle (#1278)

Quote: "Sex is herital. If your parents never had it, chanses are you'll never have it either."
Posted: 5039 days ago

You need to come to Sweden sometime. If anything, you could beat up then guys who wrote the JG blurb.

Daniel Rose (#1367)

Location: Sydney, Australia
Posted: 5039 days ago

I too was an Australian, captivated by the mystique of the squirrels (in Germany). They kept asking my why the hell I was so interested in thoses things.

Next you need to tour Australia, and get me an advance copy of Company because it's too expensive to import.

Keely (#1602)

Location: easy-peasy-24.livejournal.com of course!
Quote: "I always wanted to see the lights of Broadway... but then you get there and they're really kind of annoying."
Posted: 5039 days ago

You're welcome :D

I was the girl with the funky jacket. I think I was the youngest one there. No, I was /definitely/ the youngest one there. That was awesome, thanks!

Annie (#1941)

Location: Florida
Quote: "I'll take my chances"
Posted: 5039 days ago

Thanks for talking to me on the phone Max-you made my day. To some of us, you are a rock star. Sorry about Stephanie-like I said, she's from Jersey-What can you expect! I can't wait to get my book-she won't even tell me what you wrote until I get up there. For your next book signing, I will definitely be there. Best of luck...
annie

Djoules (#1553)

Location: Paris, France
Quote: "yes... maybe."
Posted: 5039 days ago

Hey Max ! I hope you'll come to Europe someday, and in Paris especially. If you do, i promise i'll make you visit everything you wish to !
Best of luck to Company, i can't wait to put my hand on it (and maybe read it too).
Cheers !

talk less. say more. (#1942)

Location: tampa, florida
Quote: "talk less. say more."
Posted: 5039 days ago

max, reading your travel diary was definitely one of the highlights of these last couple of weeks. be sure to stop in florida on your next tour!
best,
kathleen

shabooty (#637)

Location: D.C./V.A/M.D.
Quote: "I will shake your foundation. I will shake the f**cking rafters. Nobody'll be the same -Danny Bonaduce ....& go visit my blog @: http://www.shabooty.com"
Posted: 5039 days ago

yeah congrats on the tour though I swear it felt like it was only 3 days long sheesh.
:0

Flynn (#520)

Location: Chicago, IL USA
Quote: "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."
Posted: 5039 days ago

Oh, don't go fanning the "Chicago vs. NYC" flames. There's enough of that here in Chicago already. :)

Squirrels *are* cool. Have you seen any black ones yet? I've been meaning to look up why they sit in the trees and scream all the time. Maybe the ones around here are insane.

Mike Sarzo (#517)

Posted: 5039 days ago

I'm just upset you didn't come to Washington D.C. so I could bug you about NationStates. :p

J/K. I bet you'll both be relieved to go back home and disappointed your revels on tour have ended. I've seen enough stuff about rock tours to get the drift. ;)

Rob (#2135)

Location: Manchvegas
Quote: "I can't think of anything good to say"
Posted: 5039 days ago

Congratulations on you tour. It was a lot of fun to read your diary about the whole process. It was very interesting and funny(especially the squirrels).

Unfortunatly, NY was too out of my way to make it to. How about Boston next trip?

Great book by the way. Your best one yet!!!!

Andrew Riley (#1970)

Location: Parker, Colorado, USA
Quote: "Predictions are difficult, especially about the future."
Posted: 5039 days ago

Squirrels, at least to folks in smaller towns, are wonderful little creatures. My grandfather put corn outside the kitchen window for 30 years to keep the squirrels coming. They really are interesting little guys.

Congratulations on the tour Max. If you'd been a little closer to Phoenix I'd have driven to a signing.

Great book. Write many many more!

Kristen (#1157)

Location: Jersey
Quote: "Insert quotation here."
Posted: 5039 days ago

Thanks for the great NYC reading (and for the donut!)- I'm glad the place was packed for you. I resisted the urge to ask how you Australians keep the dingoes from taking your babies. Congrats on the tour, now get yourself some sleep!

Machine Man subscriber David (#1456)

Location: Sydney, Australia
Quote: "Why are the pretty ones always insane?"
Posted: 5038 days ago

I remember my first encounter with a squirrel, in a park in Austin Tx., the American I was with thought I was crazy to be so fascinated by a pest. The problem is Australia's well-publicised fun and unusual wildlife (funnelweb spiders, endless poisonous snakes, hungry crocs, kolas, roos, Tasmanian devils, baby-eating dingoes, etc.) obscures the many animals and species we *don't* have here (i.e. pretty much anything that won't kill you, or at least bite you and pee on you, given half a chance). Like squirrels for example.

So don't mind us tourists as we gaze contentedly at squirrels in the park, the only creatures anything like them we have back home are undoubtably both nocturnal and highly endangered.

I've greatly enjoyed your travel diary Max, have a great trip home and when you do a local tour please bring (fresh) donuts!

Chris (#2156)

Location: Melbourne, Aus
Quote: "somebody said something once. i can't remember what it was."
Posted: 5038 days ago

forget the "struggling midlist" writers - those of us who can't even get a publisher to READ our books (let alone publish them) think anybody who has as much as ONE book in a shop can be considered to have their "new book everywhere”. So yeah, Damn that Max Barry!!!

P.S. Kristen #1157 - we stop the dingoes from taking our babies by feeding them dismembered homeless people. the government pay us with generous incentives.

Machine Man subscriber Adam (#24)

Location: Morristown, Indiana
Quote: "Why do I blog? Simple, because Max Barry blogs."
Posted: 5038 days ago

Thursday!

NON-TRAVEL DIARY DAY 9(WE MAY HURT YOU, MAX BARRY!)

If you do not stop in Chicago on your next book tour, bricks will be electronically thrown through your computer. Anyways, Congratulations on a great/semi-complete tour success(next time it could be more complete if it features Chicago). I still hope to meet you in person, someday...

Speaking of talking about sleep, I just finished a 2 and 1/2 hour nap. This nap felt good at the time that I was taking it, but now I know that it is part of a slippery slope of offsetting my sleeping pattern. I will not be able to fall asleep until 2-3am tonight, and then I will arise at 7am in order to go to school. When I get home from school tomorrow, I will be so tired that I need to take another nap(which will make it so I can't sleep again until 2-3am). This doesn't effect some people, but me, it will taking me a few days to get back to a normal sleeping schedule.

-adam

PS I just learned that the plural of Dingo is spelled Dingoes with an "e". thanks chris!

mike (#1842)

Location: Houston
Quote: "It is okay to cry over spilled milk, if you really hate cleaning.."
Posted: 5038 days ago

It figures you do a whirlwind tour of the US when I am in Asia, I can't wait till your next book is realeased and you do a whirlwind tour of Asia; while I am back in the states.

And some of us who are regularly denied the correct amount of sleep understand the sleep obssession (ssss) but than again it allows me to ponder the meaning of life... or maybe I will just take a nap

John (#194)

Location: Los Angeles
Quote: "You understand the meaning of the word "foreboding?""
Posted: 5037 days ago

Cool meeting you in LA... Missed out on the donuts tho. Damn.

check this link -- very COMPANY-esque:

http://www.defamer.com/hollywood/paramount/things-to-do-at-paramount-when-youre-dead-152699.php

Shivaun (#50)

Location: melbourne
Quote: "we must go to the party in order to drink a lot and dance with girls"
Posted: 5037 days ago

Oh no Chris #2156 (is it cool or unnerving to have a tic-tac-toe symbol and a bunch of numbers after your name?) you realise that johnny or stevie will read your post (as they do) and think, gee that dingo/homeless/dismembered body-parts thing sound like a good idea (except for the generous incentive aspect). It would fix up the baby problem AND clean up the streets for the commonwealth games.

Now, when is the Australian book/rock star tour going to start? No pressure, or anything.

Rod McBride (#688)

Location: Gardner, KS
Quote: "www.MidwestRockLobster.blogspot.com"
Posted: 5035 days ago

You need to press them on that Midwest thing. Kind of like with Australia, it may look unihabited on a spreadsheet of 'population per square mile,' but there's millions here. Chi is obvious, Minneapolis, Kansas City, St. Louis, Dallas, Houston, Oklahoma City, these are all places with airports (with airstrips long enough for airliners, no kidding).

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