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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.

Blog

Tue 27
Mar
2007

Travel Diary: Day #3 (Los Angeles, Denver)

Writing I wake at 7am and don’t feel like heaving. This is a big improvement over this stage of my last book tour. I’m pretty pleased with how I’ve adapted to the 17-hour time difference so far. The only issue I have is with my appetite: it’s coming up on 24 hours since my last meal and I’m not hungry yet. That’s just not right.

I pack up my stuff and leave my hotel, pausing only to try to check my reflection in the TV. Honestly, this thing is the size of a surfboard; I keep thinking it’s a mirror. I also swipe a hotel pen, because back home I’m running low, having by now lost most of the pens I stole from hotels on my 2006 tour.

I board my flight to Denver and settle in to my seat. The woman to my left dabs at her nose, and with dawning horror I realize: she has a cold. Over the next 90 minutes, she sneezes, hacks, coughs, and wipes, while I try to breathe through a pillow. I wish the check-in screen had mentioned that during seat selection. I would definitely have chosen the “non-virus bearing” area of the airplane. In fact, when choosing my seat I’d ideally like to see little pictures of who’s going to be seated where. That would be interesting. I would choose to sit near small but tired-looking people.

But for now, I am stuck leaning to the right, away from Cold Woman and her contagens. Then the passenger on that side, also a woman, unexpectedly tells me: “You have lovely eyes.” I don’t know quite what to say to this. But I suspect I may have been leaning too far.

This is my first visit to Denver, and I like what I see: it’s quite charming, the kind of size that’s big enough to be interesting but not so crowded that you can’t stroll down the sidewalk without elbowing somebody, or being mugged. It’s definitely spacious. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much ground-level car parking. I imagine that if you tell a Denver resident that in other cities they have entire buildings for parking cars, one level above the other, their eyes would widen in shock.

I check in to my new hotel and go searching for food, since it’s now a day and a half since I’ve eaten and my body has decided it’s ready for something now. In fact, in between ordering a burger and it arriving, I become ravenous. Then, eight bites in, I’m not hungry at all. I’m getting a bit exasperated with my appetite. It needs to figure out what the hell it’s doing, and get with the timezone.

My reading is at Tattered Cover, which is a completely cool bookstore in a converted theater. It’s 25 or so people, very warm and friendly, and I think it goes great. While signing books, I notice a guy still in the seats, feeding a baby, and start to get misty-eyed for home. Then the baby starts barking like a dog. It’s coughing, but seriously, in the most eerily dog-like way. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. As a parent, I completely understand that kids do odd things. But people in line could very well be under the impression that this guy is feeding a bottle of milk to a swaddled-up pooch.

Beth, the organizer at Tattered Cover, has a surprise for me: an Advance Reader Copy of Syrup. This is the first incarnation of my first novel ever printed, back in 1999, and I managed to lose every one of my copies many years ago. Since then I’ve been trying desperately to get my hands on one. And suddenly I’m being given one! Well, when I say “given,” I mean that Beth asks me to sign it for her, and then I tell her this sad story about not having any of my own left, and she caves in and hands it over.

On the way back to my hotel I stop off at a drugstore to load up on bio-weapons with which to fight off any viruses I acquired on the plane. There I discover that I have somehow lost my credit card. This is my second worst fear on tour, right after running out of dollar bills and having to endure the silent contempt of doormen, and I panic, because if I have no cash I can’t even pay for a cab to the airport tomorrow morning. I finally locate my card in my other pants, back at the hotel, but only after spending my last dollar bill at the drugstore. Oh-oh. Tomorrow morning could be tough.

Comments

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Robert (#2152)

Location: Berlin, Germany
Posted: 4442 days ago

great diary so far!

Machine Man subscriber Kramy (#818)

Quote: ""it's the way of the future""
Posted: 4442 days ago

I hate tipping...

Niccalo (#2313)

Location: Duluth, GA
Quote: ""STOP! Don't Shoot!""
Posted: 4442 days ago

Max, it was very cool meeting you. Thanks for signing all three of my books, and thanks for the listen in on your new and up coming one.

Machine Man subscriber Barry Mitchell (#1001)

Location: Saukville, Wisconsin
Quote: ""A hamster's like a small camel" - Ben Katz"
Posted: 4442 days ago

Great meeting you in Milwaukee last night, Max!

I looked all over the area for hardbacks, but could only find Company. So I had to settle for that and the softcover of Jennifer Government. Thanks for the great personalized messages!

I hope the rest of your trip goes well!

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: 4442 days ago

If this was a Chuck Palahniuk novel when a chick next to you on the plane says "you have lovely eyes," you know what that means... ;)
-S-

Aaron the Evil HR Guy (#2252)

Location: Denver
Quote: "'The HR Department is a breeding ground for monsters' Michael Scott"
Posted: 4442 days ago

Max,

thanks again for visiting Denver and your comments on our fair city! Looking forward to the new book and possible movie(s). Hope you enjoy the rest of your tour and finally figure out your meal schedule!

-Evil HR Guy

Brian Kenneth Conway (#2864)

Location: Pozos de Santa Ana, Costa Rica
Quote: "Siempre estar pateando de la vieja escuala, MOPRI ('Kick it Old School, Cuz' -- more or - very much - less as rendered poorly into Español)"
Posted: 4441 days ago

Max,

Been wanting to write you for a while, since "discovering"? your works back in 200-1? (ish) or so. Loved Syrup. Loved 'Company' more. JenGov I had a few more probs with, mostly mine, not yerz. Talk to you about that someday - maybe ;)

Enjoy your blogs immensely, you too are a cynical bastard. I like that.

Like you, I am an ex-HP-ite. Not by any kind of choice for4 me, I recently was fired for telling my direct-report supervisor that he was a Dumb Bastard. Idiotic move on my part - I hated my boss, but loved my job - I trained. And did it well. Only trained after DOING what I trained on (well) for 8 years with The Company. C'est la vid... and shit. My boss above (Captain Dipshit) works for "The Company" Down Under over in yer neck of the woods, there are possibilities I might be visiting nearby to job-interview in the near future. Maybe. I dunno what the hell I wanna do yet whan I grow up, I'm thinking "I wanna be a Fireman" might be a better gig than a slow & painful 10 year ass-rape from Corporate America...

Lots of current employees of The Company love your work, you give voice to many - many, many, many - things a lot of us would like to say, but can't for fear of the Omnipresent ShitCan. Christ it's liberating to no longer Live in Fear...

Get down (or over, whatever) here to Costa Rica at some point, dammit. Even if it's just Va-ca. The Tattered Cover RULES in Colorado (best excuse for human life going in the NeoRepublicanNaziBush'Lebensraum' that passes for intelligentsia in Colorado), but in total... Colorado... And all the 'flyover' -- (anything between Time Square in NYC and Union Square in S.F.) are truly "flyover territory" - with all the culture of a sideband ingredient content of "Cap'n Crunch" & the personalities to match. Milwaukee... At least they make beer. Well, Fort Collins, Colorado does... - Best Goddamn beer in the US of A - but they are 5 or so years out from "fame". Dammit. All Milwaukee has is a shitty polluted-ass lake, lots of 4th generation Deutsch Beer swillers, and weather similar to Hillary Clinton's bungole -- (presumably frigid).

On the other mano, Costa Rica is filled with highly literate & cynical English speakers (and readers) who love your stuff. I'd break the "Barry-Fan-Demographic" down as 50% native, 20% English (Irish/Scottish/Aussie) Ex-pats, 20% de Estados Expats, 10% oddballs from all corners o' the globe. We all have talked extensively about yer work, all of us are current/past/future employees of Fortune-500 companies... With brains - at least when not too drunk, like me right now.

Pura Vida mae. pura vida. Love your stuff, Keep It Up. You are saying things that need to be said, speaking Truth to Power. Not only do you make us all think, you make us laugh too - which, in the final analysis, may the the best thing - ever.

Grok on, Maxcito.

B. Conway
- This one Gringo de Estados
- Pozos de Santa Ana, Costa Rica


Roy Janik (#3051)

Location: Austin, TX
Posted: 4440 days ago

Max,

I help run an improv comedy theater here in Austin called the Hideout. There's a show at 10pm, and if you stop by we'll be more than happy to get you in free and go hang out afterwards. It's located at 617 Congress Ave., on the SE corner of Congress and 7th street. It's not very far really from Book People.

And as I'm writing this I realize that it's probably far too late notice. I have to be at the theater tonight, or I'd definitely be at your reading. I went to the last one in Austin at Barnes & Noble.

Machine Man subscriber Michelle (#3052)

Location: Denver
Posted: 4438 days ago

I can't believe that you were in Denver and I missed it! And at the Tattered Cover, no less. That is one amazing store. Oh well. Mebbe you'll come back.

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