Monday, July 10, 2006

I was so sad to hear about Cody's Bookstore closing in Berkeley. It was a true honor to read at the illustrious store when The Book of Dead Birds came out (and it was even more of an honor to be introduced by the amazing Maxine Hong Kingston, who also served as emcee for the recent farewell ceremony there.) It was such a beautiful evening--many friends showed up to the event, and I had a glorious dinner with my wonderful agent and her husband and my beloved Fruitflesh editor at Chez Panisse beforehand. The reading will always carry a tinge of sadness for me, though--it took place the same day that my mother-in-law's husband Jack was diagnosed with brain cancer. I dedicated the reading to him, and asked everyone present to send good thoughts to his brain. My publisher was able to get me an earlier flight home after the reading so I could be with Jack and the family at the hospital over the weekend before I left for my Denver leg of the tour. It was on that plane that I had the conversation which planted the seed for my writing Self Storage. I never would have written the novel if it hadn't been for Jack's illness, for that changed flight. Now, I wish Jack was still here and the book had never been written, but I'm glad I'm able to keep his memory alive through the novel. Of course I've dedicated it to him.

At the hospital, I was able to tell Jack about giving the reading in his honor at Cody's. It was the last lucid conversation we had--his brain was so taken over by the tumor that most of his speech came out in surreal, often mind-blowing nonsequiturs (and actually the conversation about Cody's ended up turning into a strangely beautiful soliloquy about "animal participants". But he remembered the store well, and seemed touched by the dedication.) I will always associate Cody's with Jack. And now that the store is closing, I feel his loss all over again.

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