From Vegas to Phoenix to Denver
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
When an author is on book tour, it is easy for the cities to all blend together. New York on Monday, Boston on Tuesday, Chicago on Wednesday...who can keep them all straight? But when I landed in Las Vegas Saturday I knew I definitely wasn't in Kansas (err, Pennsylvania?) anymore. Not that I'm a prude about gambling, though I do think its just about the dumbest way on earth to throw money away, but I was surprised to see banks of slot machines lining the concourses at the Vegas airport, little children scampering among them as grizzled veterans of the casino culture hoping for the big break that will never come, sat smoking and feeding the one-armed bandits. I paused to wonder how Nevada parents raise their kids to have a healthy work ethic when all around them on a daily basis they are barraged with evidence that many adults would rather feed coins into a machine and hope for an unearned mother lode.
My destination was not the Vegas strip, but rather the suburban community of Henderson where on Sunday I participated in a really wonderful One Book, One Community program that drew some 700 people -- and a few dogs, too. Henderson chose Marley & Me (and the young-reader adaptation Marley: A Dog Like No Other) for a community-wide book club, and they greeted me like an old friend. A member of the city council was even on hand to present me with a key to the city, which I can only hope opens the Henderson beer-distribution warehouse. Thanks everyone for being so warm and hospitable and wonderful. After I spoke about Marley & Me, and my new book, The Longest Trip Home, I signed books under a tent outside in the warm desert air for two hours (Phew!), then left for the airport to catch a night flight to Phoenix.
In Phoenix on Monday, I appeared on the mid-morning television program Good Day, Arizona, signed the in-store stock of my books at a couple of area bookstores, then had a blessed afternoon free to lounge by the pool at the retro-cool Valley Ho hotel where I stayed and where, yes, I forgot all about sun screen and emerged a few hours later sporting a nice lobster-red glow.
But the best was yet to come. That evening I hooked up with a dear old friend who is a major character in The Longest Trip Home, my childhood partner in crime, Tommy Cullen (a pseudonym). It had been the better part of twenty years since we had seen each other face to face, or even talked on the phone for that matter, and I wasn't quite sure how it would go. But we started jabbering away and didn't stop. It was as if no time had passed at all, and I remembered why we had been such tried-and-true best friends from roughly age 9 to 17. The kid was like a brother to me. We talked about the respect our fathers had for each other, and about losing them within a month of each other in 2004. Tommy had some friends over, threw some chicken on the grill and asparugus in the steamer, and we made a party of it. (It was great meeting all you guys!) Then Tommy's friend Nancy gave me a lift to my evening book signing in her two-seat BMW convertible with the roof down. Way to go, Nancy! Thanks for officially giving me sports-car envy. Sweet ride!
My appearance was at the Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe where about 125 people gathered around to hear me read from The Longest Trip Home, tell dumb-dog stories, talk about my new children's book, A Very Marley Christmas, and give an update on the Christmas Day release of the Marley & Me movie. (To watch the latest trailer, click "Media" above.)
Now I'm writing this on a flight to Denver where I appear tonight at the legendary Tattered Cover bookstore. And after that....home, sweet, home. Well, for five days anyway until I head out again for Detroit, where much of The Longest Trip Home takes place. (To see if I'll be speaking near you, please click "Events" above.)
OK, it is now time to "turn off and stow all electronic devices, and that means you, the guy typing away there in 16D." So I guess I should go. Later!
posted by John Grogan at 4:20 PM