Boston—what a beautiful city! Flowers and trees everywhere! I was lucky to spend four days there with my mom while in town for readings at Newtonville Books and Harvard Bookstore. We had an amazing time and walked walked walked. When we weren’t walking, we were eating seafood. A man in Boston Common asked me on a date for no reason, and the one time we took a cab we thought our cabbie was on methamphetamines.
My mom is charmingly old-fashioned about some things, which shows up when she travels. She wears old socks to go through airport security, and when she puts her sandals back on she throws the socks away. She has a horror of unisex bathrooms, and she really, really hates gum. She thinks fast elevators make you shorter. Quirks aside, she is a great travel companion.
Newtonville Books seems to have a very supportive community of readers. Jaime and Mary, the owners, are gracious and kind, and I was interested in their store’s many innovative programs. They host a monthly, low-cost writing workshop, have book clubs and “celebrity” book clubs (with a guest writer), and maintain a community blog. They also offer a generous 20% discount on all books to store members and stock a nice selection of films based on books (members can borrow the DVDs for free). If you live in Newton, why would you shop for books anywhere else?
I was at Newtonville with the fabulously talented Aimee Bender, who also went to Irvine and, years ago, talked to me on the phone when I was considering MFA programs. I read “Deer Season” and Aimee read chapter ten of her terrific new novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Here we are, signing books:
One of Aimee’s fans had a tattoo of the cover image from An Invisible Sign of My Own on his leg. My mom is a big Aimee Bender fan too, and also a protective and concerned person, and this made her a little worried for Aimee, but the guy looked pretty sincere and harmless to me. No one had a Mattaponi Queen tattoo. If you’re thinking of getting one, I would say don’t.
Another interesting occurrence was meeting a writer who went to high school with Eula Biss. Three people from their high school English class have gone on to become writers. I would love for that to happen for one of my classes.
Here are a few more photos from Boston: