Thursday, July 12, 2001

American Gods Blog, Post 122

Let’s see, where were we? More to the point, where am I? (Stops. Thinks. Birmingham. Right. Knew it was Birmingham.) Just on my way to do a lunchtime signing at Andromeda Books – mainly because Andromeda was the place I signed first. It was with Kim Newman, in 1985, for a book called GHASTLY BEYOND BELIEF.

Tonight is Ottakers bookshop in Walsall – not a place I’d’ve picked to do a signing, on a tour that doesn’t take in Oxford, Cambridge or Reading, – but we’ll see how it goes.

The last couple of evening signings have been fun – Leeds two nights ago, and last night in Manchester, at Waterstones. They sold tickets (₤3.00 each) and people kept coming, several hundred of them, so the event moved from Waterstones to the church next door, which meant, I was told, No Swearing. It also meant that people didn’t get any free wine, cos it was a church.

So I read the Essie Tregowan story. Toward the end people got quieter and quieter and you could hear every squeak and echo. People laughed less, though.

The people and the organisation were both terrific. I saw Ramsey and Jenny Campbell and several other friends and old acquaintances, all-too briefly in every case. Thrown out of the church at ten p.m. as that was when the burglar alarm went on by, but a final dash of speed signing did it, then to the radio.

I had a few seconds before the interview to talk to the interviewer, so I checked to see if he’d read the book, and he hadn’t, which was good to know, as I explained more than I might have otherwise. But what was meant to be a 5 minute interview turned into a half hour chat on the air, and was very enjoyable.

Then back to the hotel, where there was no food to be had, for it was gone midnight, and all I’d had to eat since breakfast was some Tesco’s sushi that someone had brought to the signing (“my girlfriend says I’m mad but...”) so Lucy and I went to an Indian restaurant next door, and when the food wasn’t what I’d ordered I shut up and ate it, because I just wanted food and sleep. And then we walked back to the hotel, went off to our rooms, and slept the sleep of the dead. Well, I did. At 7.30 Lucy rang to say that she was still stuffed from eating a huge Indian meal at 1.00am and thought she’d skip breakfast, and I decided to do the same, so lay in the bath and read several pages of Harry Stephen Keeler’s THE CHAMELEON (the second half of the sequence that begins with THE MYSTERIOUS MR. I). An astonishingly brilliant and postmodern sort of device and structure underlies both books, marred only by the fact that the mystery of the narrator’s identity is starting to become wearisome. But as unreliable narrators go, this one is certainly up there.

On the train to Birmingham I planned to work, and instead I slept.

We’re edging up the UK charts – number 19 last week, number 16 this week.

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