The first MWA board meeting of 2008 was a significant one — the board unanimously approved revisions to the membership criteria and Edgar submission rules that clarify the current language and close some loopholes that have come to light in the last year (for instance, the rules now explicitly apply to “book packagers” ). We also clarified the Edgar eligibilty of foriegn-published books. I’ll post the details when I get home tomorrow and have access to a computer again.. After the meeting, we went to steak dinner at Bobby Van’s. The restaurant won the American Academy of Hospital Services’ International Star Diamond Award in 2006 and an award from Wine Spectator for best wine selection in 2003. I know that Bobby is very honored by the awards because the certificates are proudly displayed above the urinals in the Men’s Room. Afterwards we went to the bar at the Algonquin and toasted the roundtable…and then I returned to the hotel to worry about the writing I’m not doing because of my damn dell.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T
My Dell laptop crashed on my first night in NY…this is the second time this has happened, and I had to spend 2 1/2 hours on the phone with Dell before they, too, were convinced that my computer had, indeed, crashed again (this brings my total time spent on the phone to customer support to seven hours since I bought this computer). So they are sending a guy out to my house next week to replace the motherboard and the hard disc, which means I can’t do any writing this weekend (I am posting this on the hotel computer).
I spent Friday walking all over Manhattan, first to The Strand to browse the used books, and then to lunch with my editor, publisher and agent. I am pleased to report that the MONK books are doing very, very well and that there will likely be more to come after my current contract ends this Spring. They are also very excited about the BURN NOTICE books from my brother Tod and the PSYCH novels from my writing partner Bill Rabkin. This time next year, Tod, Bill and I will be doing lots of signings together to promote our new books.
After the meeting, I went to a few more bookstores…and stumbled into a sale at Taschen, where I bought lots of big, heavy books that I had to lug around to Partners & Crime, which hosted a signing party for all the MWA Board members in town. I caught up with Joseph Finder, Lee Child, Harlan Coben, Harry Hunsicker, Les Klinger, Louise Ure, Charles Todd and many more folks. Everyone was very excited about the list of Edgar nominees that was announced yesterday and there was lots of discussion about the WGA strike. I got the latest on Lee, Joseph and Harlan’s pre-strike Hollywood adventures.
The party soon moved to a Chinese restaurant, where we gorged ourselves for a few more hours before Les and I decided to walk the 40 blocks back to our hotel. All in all, a long, fun, and exhausting day.
Today I won’t be getting nearly as much exercise. I’ll be locked in a board meeting all day and then tonight it’s another big dinner with the Board….and then tomorrow I return to L.A.
My flight to New York was filled with orthodox Jews with the beards, the yamulkes, the hats, the whole deal. If we’d had a horse-drawn cart, some milk and some cheese we could have staged the opening musical number from FIDDLER ON THE ROOF.
Midway through the flight, I got up to stretch my legs and use the restroom. When I got out, I bumped into this young boy, maybe 12 years old, who looked at me and asked:
"Are you Jewish?"
"Yes," I replied.
He immediately ran back down the aisle to his father, who stood up, offered me his hand, and then started talking to me in Hebrew. Or at least I think it was Hebrew.
"I’m sorry, I don’t speak Hebrew," I said. "I’m not a practicing Jew."
"But you’re Jewish," he said.
"Yes, I am," I said. "Have a good trip."
I started down the aisle, but he wouldn’t let me pass. He said something else to me in Hebrew.
"I have no idea what you’re saying," I said. "I am a very Jewless Jew."
"Did you have a Bar Mitzvah?"
"Nope," I said. "And I don’t celebrate passover. And I had bacon for breakfast yesterday. I’m watching my carbs."
"Where are you sitting?" he asked.
"Up there," I said, gesturing to the front of the plane. And as he turned to look, I used the opportunity to slip past him and return to my seat.
I settled in, and was starting to watch 30 ROCK on my iPod, when the guy, his kid, and a bearded man in a long, black coat showed up at my seat.
"This is our Rabbi," the guy said.
The Rabbi introduced himself, asked me my name, and the next thing I knew, they stuck a yamulke on my head and started chanting something in Hebrew.
I began to protest, but then the kid started wrapping my arm with some kind of leather strap and I figured I’d just let them do their thing. The guy put a card, written in Hebrew in front of me, and told me to repeat after him. I did, if only to get the whole awkward scene over with.
The people sitting next to me looked like they wanted to crawl under their seat and hide. I would have liked to join them but the Jewish kid had me lassooed pretty good.
The three Jews finished up, congratulated me on this very special day in my life, slipped a card in my hand and returned to their seats. The card had a photograph of a rabbi on the front and on the back there were illustrations of the steps in something called the Mitzvah Campaign. I’m not sure, but judging by the drawing, I think one of the steps, Tefillin, had something to do with what they did to me. You tell me. What was all that about?
I’ll probably be scarce here over the next few days. I am leaving for New York on Thursday morning to attend the first Mystery Writers of America board meeting for the new year and my annual get-together with my publisher, editor and agent.
I’ll also be doing a booksigning on Friday night, 6-8 pm, at
Partners & Crime. If you happen to be in NY, stop by and say hello.
I’m back on Sunday…and then I have jury duty starting on Tuesday. But with the strike going on, it’s not like jury duty is going to cut deep into my work.
My brother Tod’s review of two new novels set in Las Vegas, both by first-time authors, appears on the front page of today’s Los Angeles Times Calendar section.
What "Beautiful Children" and "The Delivery Man" share — apart from
the obvious thematic portrayal of Las Vegas as "Caligula" — is,
surprisingly, hope. Both Bock and McGinniss flash across the page with
firm style, compelling voices and the desire to go deeper than their
subject matter. Although neither of their novels has defined literary
Las Vegas, both carry the imprint of burgeoning talent, and that is
always worth gambling on.
Blogger Gerald So has reviewed MR. MONK AND THE TWO ASSISTANTS and I am pleased to say that he liked it. Among his comments:
Indeed this is Goldberg’s most novel-suited premise yet. He adds just
enough spice to bring out the assistants’ differences for tension and
character study. In the mind-blowing final third of the novel, Sharona
and Natalie are accused of separate murders, and Monk seems even more
aloof in their time of need. Readers know, of course, neither of them
is a murderer. The fun is in seeing how, or in this case if, Monk proves it.