Excited to announce dates for six upcoming speaking/reading engagements.
This is all thanks to an amazing organization called the Jewish Book Council (JBC)—writer friends David Sax, Annabelle Gurwitch and Tom Fields-Myer insisted I check them out, despite the fact that PLUS ONE is barely Jewish. “Doesn’t matter,” Tom told me. “Jews love books - and they’ll love you.” Every year the JBC hosts a conference where authors from around the world pitch their books to people who run Jewish Community Centers and conferences and book festivals. It’s all very intense and competitive – you get up in a sanctuary at Hebrew Union College and you get TWO MINUTES (a time limit they enforce with red and yellow flags held by a fierce woman in the first row) to explain your book and why you should come to their city to talk about it. Afterward the delegates submit a list of the authors they’d like to invite to their cities and the JBC covers travel and expenses.
Last month I schlepped to NYC (see me there, slinging the Yiddish?) and did my two minutes up at the bima. I was super intimidated—the other writers included historians, memoirists, rabbis and chefs. The vast majority of them, my friend Annabelle pointed out, had written books dealing with the holocaust or kugel.
Despite having absolutely no kugel or holocaust material in my work, I got a really nice response and met some lovely people at the reception afterward. This week I was honored to confirm the following dates:
October 22, Denver JCC.
November 4, St Louis Jewish Book Festival.
November 7, Union of Reform Judaism Biennial, Orlando.
November 9, Mandel JCC, Cleveland.
January 21, St. Paul JCC, St Paul.
February 11, American Jewish University, Los Angeles.
Besides the Orlando event, all these events are public and open to everyone—even the Jew-friendly un-chosen. I’ll post details closer the events. Hope to see you!
Today the book is out and so I’m sitting in a back room of the Pasadena Central Library in the same chair where I wrote most of PLUS ONE, under a tall window and a table away from a pungent homeless gentleman watching “Rambo” on a portable DVD player.
Oh glamorous publication day! It feels weird and scary and exciting and a little sad. Things are always best for me just before they happen. When you tear open the bag of Mint Milanos. When you lay your head down to sleep. When you put down the needle on a new record. Now that this book that I poured so much of myself into is actually out… it’s gone. Into the world. Where people can love it or hate it or, worst of all, ignore it entirely or sneer and call it “inconsequential.” (Looking at you, PW).
Of course people will think what they think (and thankfully, Kirkus and Library Journal and a whole of of my literary heroes like the book a lot), and the healthy thing for me to do now is hunker down and write and not worry about the response. But maybe I’ve spent too much time in Hollywood, where ratings and response (and awards - ugh) are everything and everyone is constantly hustling for parts and deals and validation… but let’s just say I get a tiny bit weird about approval.
It’s taking all the self-control I possess right now not to switch over and check my Amazon sales ranking right now (OK, I lose: #71,456. How sad is that? I’m just 70-some-thousand books below “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and “The Zero Belly Diet”!).
OK, stop. It’s a happy day and a proud one and when I was looking at the Amazon page I found a super-nice review from a book blogger at VoxLibris who said the book made her “laugh so hard I thought I’d pulled a stomach muscle.” I’m glad she enjoyed; I really hope her stomach is OK.
Anyhow, all of this is to say that I’m a bit of a wreck today, worried and overthinking and all up in my own business. The answer to all this silliness, I know, is only as far away as a nice long walk outside with the dog and some time with the kids and a reminder that maybe that cruel, unforgivable reviewer at PW isn’t so far off, in an ultimate sense anyhow: we’re all pretty inconsequential.
(PS: I’ve been inspired by the long-ish, meander-y status updates of Anne Lamott and am going to try to do more like this. Please enjoy. And if you’re so inclined, please spread the word about PLUS ONE - we need all the buzz we can get. Not that I’m paying any attention at all.)
Let the Coattail Promotional Tour begin. In advance of Monday’s Emmys, the Atlantic published my essay on men on the red carpet and “the plight” (really?) of the Plus One. Read on for the true story of a wardrobe malfunction fictionalized in the first chapter of the upcoming novel…
My novel PLUS ONE has been acquired by LA’s own Prospect Park for a January 2015 publication.
Here’s the summary:
With two young kids and a house stuffed with thrift-store clutter, Alex Sherman-Zicklin leads a cramped, frantic, and all-too-authentic existence on the far outskirts of the Los Angeles high life. Then his wife Figgy’s fourteenth attempt at a TV pilot gets picked up, produced, and awarded an Emmy. Overnight, she’s sucked into a mad show business vortex, and Alex is tasked with managing their new high-profile Hollywood lifestyle. It’s a world of Salvadoran nannies and secret pop-up restaurants, competitive charity fundraisers and elite elementary schools. As Figgy deals with meddling network executives and a Yale-educated, Ozarks-born lead actress who complains that the hit show is “nothing I want to be associated with,” Alex falls in with a posse of fellow Plus Ones, men married to women whose success, income, and public recognition far surpass their own. To keep himself and his family intact, he’ll face the meddling of his Birkenstock lesbian mother, the temptation of a seductive lady butcher, and an opportunity that just might lift him out of the long shadow cast by his powerful spouse. Then again, he faces the possibility that his powerful spouse will trade up in favor of a newer, better model of man.
I have an illustrated piece in the new anthology Unscrolled: Writers and Artists Wrestle With The Torah.” Published by Workman Publishing Co., the book is a fascinating exercise in Biblical reinterpretation, with contributors (including Aimee Bender, Damon Lindelof and Sam Lipsyte) tackling one of the traditional parshas in the form of transcripts, essays, memoirs, letters, infographics and stories. My piece, titled “Gomer & Gazzam,” is a spin on the old “Goofus & Gallant” cartoon in Highlights Magazine.
The Jewish journal Sh’ma published my essay on being “Jewish adjacent” for an issue “on the communal impact - over the past decade or so - as Jews by choice and ‘fellow travelers’ have assumed positions of communal leadership.”
The December issue of Details includes my feature on the fetishization of hot Jewish women. Read on for quick, snappy, not-terribly-deep take on “JILFS,” semi-observant hardcore queen Joanna Angel and the glory of frum porn.
Details magazine ran this feature I did for the September issue about wellspring of resentment that builds up among over-involved parents as they create ever-more-awesome educational and enrichment opportunities for their precious progeny.
Salon just posted an expanded version of my essay about the psychosis of toddlerhood.
Brandweek magazine just published this editorial from me and colleague Bill Goodwin on why rejuvenile marketing so often elicits cringes among not-quite-grownups.
I’m doing a presentation this week at the FUSE: Design & Culture Conference with my friend and colleague Bill Goodwin. We’ll be talking about “the rejuvenile aesthetic,” our fancy-pants phraseology for the cartoony, kiddie, whimsical, playful culture that now pops up everywhere from Web 2.0 font design to modern architecture to auto styling… I’ll also hang out to sign books and stalk my fellow presenter, Malcolm Gladwell… I’m on Tuesday April 15 at 2 pm. Registration and other info here.
Forget Christmakkah and Festivus. Our interfaith holiday involves a magical rooster who fills the children’s pants with presents… I wrote this essay on our family’s crazy-fun solution to “the December dilemma” entirely for my own amusement; it was miraculously given prominent play on Salon.com and has generated a ton of highly entertaining response (read the comments here)
Reuters just picked up my feature story on parents’ willingness to come clean about their most humiliating acts of stupidity. Read the whole uncut piece here. The piece grew out of a recent essay involving my five year old daughter, a bad case of the hiccups and a gorilla head, a story that friends and I are turning into a short web video. Stay tuned…
Rejuvenile is out in paperback from Three Rivers Press. It’s gorgeous, shiny-as-a-toy and at $11, cheaper than a Wii. Order a copy today and tackle a few of the deep imponderables contained therein:
• Are rejuveniles freespirited romantics or hopelessly gullible tools of a vast Madison Avenue conspiracy?
• Why didn’t rejuvenile greats J.M. Barrie, Dr. Seuss or Hans Christian Andersen ever have actual kids of their own?
• How long until Nike releases a high performance shoe system for skipping?
• Are adults who live at home with their parents forging a new interdependent family model or just suckers for mom’s lasagna?
• Is the color of Rejuvenile’s dust jacket best described as yellow, buttercup or goldenrod?
I’m set to appear tomorrow on “Jonesy’s Jukebox,” the radio show hosted by ex-Sex Pistols codger-freak Steve Jones. I’ll be one of three “guest jurors” on a two-hour segment in which he’ll play songs and we decide if said songs are “pants” (bad) or “mustard” (good). Not sure what’s up with the pants or the mustard or why I was asked to appear—must be my gig as music consultant on the Showtime series “Weeds.” Show airs on Indie 103.1 FM from 12-2 pm with a rebroadcast from 6-8 pm.