What a ride. Some wind at the writer’s back. What else could I ask for? I’m back from a solid two weeks of touring Peep Show, my second novel, that received favorable praise from all the important folks, including People magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Kirkus/Booklist/Publisher’s Weekly.
A writer’s livelihood is based on reviews and, of course, sales. If both are good, you stand to make a respectable royalty advance on your next project. So I’m feeling upbeat about it all. Was in New York for BEA (Book Expo America) where I signed books at the Algonquin booth and threw a party at my brother Zach’s place for anyone in publishing who happened to be in town. When my brother asked how many would be coming to get a sense of the rowdiness I told him that book people weren’t the same as movie people. No one has fake boobs and most of them wear shawls. He bet me there wouldn’t be one shawl. He was right. No tally on fake boobs, though. My favorite part of the evening was being able to acknowledge all the people at Algonquin Books who put out such quality reads each year. Oh we had a rousing old time. New York is a fun place to launch a book.
I’ve read from Peep Show about 20 times. During Q&A time, I’ve heard a lot of questions about research for the book, which is partly a novel about the smutty landscape of Times Square in the 1970s but also about Hasidic life at that time in New York. While on tour for my first book,
The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green
, I met a man who came from one of the first baal teshuvah (convert from non-observant Jew to Hasidic Jew) families in Queens who wanted to share his story with me. I knew I was going to be writing about a heavily religious sect of Judaism, but I didn’t know details at that point.
So, we talked and he offered to send me his story, which involved his mother suddenly switching to a non-secular lifestyle and wearing black to her ankles in August. In his mother’s new way of life there would be no talking or even looking at girls and the TV would be removed and rock music was evil and God was watching and on and on. No secular books. No movies. No non-kosher food.