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get my fred
 
Not Barbara's dog, but he looked sort of like this.
Not Barbara’s dog, but he looked sort of like this.

Okay, I am back from my travels.  I grumbled a fair amount about turn-out on my last tour, but none of that this time around.  Last week I had easily 40 people at Book People in Austin, and while attendance was not stellar at Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, it was still a good-sized crowd and we were dealing with temperatures of 118 degrees.  When it gets that hot the government advises the elderly, the sick and the rational to stay indoors or move to a state where human beings actually have a chance of surviving without air conditioning.  I now am inclined to think that crappy attendance last time around had more to do with being on tour during the run-up to the election than anything else.  Three of my speaking dates coincided with pres or the vice pres debates.   In any case, my Scottsdale experience was augmented by selling a ton of books, by Poisoned Pen owner Barbara Peter’s legendary hospitality, and her husband Robert Rosenwald’s amazing cooking.  Plus they have a nice dog.  As soon as they post it, I will put up a recording of my event at Poisoned Pen so you can all experience the magic for yourselves. 

I liked it!

I liked it!

My horrendous travel experience, brought to me by US Air, was made bearable by legendary novelist Edna O’Brien’s new biography, Byron in Love.  This is just the sort of book I’d have enjoyed reading on a Kindle if I had one.  Which I don’t.  Still!  Amazon, are you listening?  But I digress.  At just over 200 pages, this is a compact little biography, and an interesting corrective, in my view, to the trend of massive, complete, often unreadable biographies of literary figures.  There are other, more exhaustive works on Byron, and Leslie A. Marchand’s three volume bio may still be the best place for the serious reader to go, but O’Brien refreshing approach is to center her attention on Byron the man rather than Byron the poet.  While other figures of the Romantic period can hardly be discussed outside the context of their writing (Blake comes to mind), Byron – as a biographical subject – is certainly far more than the sum total of his literary output.  Even so, this brief book feels rushed at times and sometimes gets bogged down in sentences that require several readings to unknot.  Even so, I think this is a terrific take on Byron, especially for those who are interested more in the superstar than the poet.  

Finally, this made me laugh so hard I had trouble breathing.  Maybe it was just my mood.   Or my lungs.

2 Responses to “get my fred”

  1. Andy says:

    Speaking of the Kindle, David, this article certainly will raise your eyebrows:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2223214/

    The irony of the fact that some of the books removed were by Orwell is… well, deeply ironic, I suppose.

  2. JeffF says:

    I absolutely adored Joe Cocker in 1969, maybe more because of the apparent spastic than in spite of it, and you have now ruined that particular song forever. I’m never going to be able to listen to it again without cracking up. Shame.

    Since you probably weren’t born yet, you may never have seen John Belushi do Cocker. So, there you are: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4Dqc25dsug

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