Friday, August 24, 2007

Iron Man and Gatsby

Louisville, Kentucky. A good start to the day. USA Today’s lead story was on the Boston Red Sox — “America’s new home team.” A nice piece, but of course this sort of coverage can only make a Sox fan feel nervous.

An e-mail from John Sargent, the CEO of Holtzbrinck, the parent company of my publisher, St. Martins’ Press — the capo de tutti capi — telling me that we’ve already sold more copies of Power Play in its first two days on sale at Barnes & Noble than we’d ever sold in a week before. Having the book in B&N’s stepladder, for the first time, was surely a major factor. It’s doing great at Borders too, which also has it prominently on display in the front of all stores.

And then a terrific piece on my books in The Economist has just come out, here. The issue hits the newsstands tomorrow, I think. One of the best articles ever written about my books, and in one of the most widely read magazines in the world. (Accompanied by a photo of me sitting on top of the boardroom table at Bear Stearns in Boston, taken by my friend, Norman Lang.)

Louisville was 100 degrees when I arrived. I checked in at the Seelbach, the city’s grande dame hotel, where F. Scott Fitzgerald used to hang out while he was stationed at Camp Zachary Taylor nearby, and wrote most of The Great Gatsby (and where his characters Tom and Daisy Buchanan had their wedding: “In June she married Tom Buchanan of Chicago, with more pomp and circumstance than Louisville ever knew before. He came down with a hundred people in four private cars, and hired a whole floor of the Seelbach Hotel, and the day before the wedding he gave her a string of pearls valued at three hundred and fifty thousand dollars.”) Apparently Al Capone used to stay here a lot, too. Like a lot of Chicagoans, I feel a connection to Capone. My great-grandfather, who owned a number of dry-cleaning shops in Chicago, apparently tried to stand up to Al Capone but then came to his senses ... after one of his shops was fire-bombed or something. I’m hazy on the details.

There’s a big Iron Man triathlon going on in Louisville, which is why the Seelbach is fully booked. The guy at the desk who checked me in asked if I was here for the Iron Man. Flattery always works on me. Well, when I’m on book tour, I do feel like I’m running a triathlon — does that count?

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