Showing posts from March, 2011

Lost in Translation

It's funny how you can speak the same language as someone, yet still have no idea what they're talking about.

I followed a link to a very short English-language article on the Indian movie website Filmi Tadka because the headline interested me: "Shahrukh Khan - Don't Mix Religion with Politics." Reading the article, I learned that at the distinguished India Today Conclave, "SRK expressed his concerns about the politicization of Mumbai by saying that Indian cinema is heading from Mumbai to Melrose. And though he would have preferred the transition as Bombay to Beverly Hills he thinks that that kind of alliteration is not allowed to Muslim actors."


I know all those words, but because of my own ignorance, I don't have the political or cultural context needed to understand them. First, what's he referring to, exactly, when he talks about the politicization of Mumbai, and what does that have to do with global cinema and Hollywood? Second, if I&…

Atmosphere, Umbrellas, Pancakes, and Other Delicious Objects

Taiwanese cover for Fire, published by Gaea Books --->

So, one day in Hamburg, I saw a man who was carrying one of the most beautiful umbrellas I have ever seen. It had panels that were all these different kinds of deep purples and reds and I LOVE UMBRELLAS. I pursued him, natch. I'm not sure what I would have done had I managed to catch him. I guess kick him really hard, grab the umbrella, and run. Maybe poke him with it a few times to discourage vengeance. Tragically though (for me, anyway, maybe not him), he got away.

I notice when I'm in a place with beautiful umbrellas. Not every town takes pride in its umbrellas. Cambridge does. So does the little Bavarian town of Coburg. It was raining that day we were in Coburg, and my lovely traveling pal Ulrike and I were just fine with that, because we were, um, frankly, EXHAUSTED, and grateful for an excuse to sit in the window of a pancake house, eat Pfannkuchen, and watch the beautiful umbrellas go by.

Here I am, eating my (delic…

How does a book become a bestseller in Germany?

A lot of hard work by a lot of smart people whose job is to find ways to get you to pay attention to the book in question.

LA LA LA hmmmm I wonder what's in this box?

Pens? Pencils? A tiny bow and arrow? A flaming red wig?

Or how about...

Chocolates! Specifically, FLAMING chocolates. From left to right: chili-champagne praline; chili-raspberry praline; chili-truffle praline; bittersweet chili praline.

"Chili pralines: dangerously beautiful!" HA HA HA HA

This little box of promotional Fire-related candies is just one of the things my German publisher, Carlsen, did to help draw attention to Fire in Germany. I'm not sure who they were sent to, but I'm guessing bookstores and sales reps (?). And I got one, too! So far, I can't bring myself to eat them, mostly because they're so beautiful, but also because *ahem* they smell a little funny :o). Carlsen, you are too kind to me and my books.

Okay, that's it for now. I hope to have time to write a little more about…

Ich bin nicht königlich!

I had this plan to write a big, huge post about my time in Germany, but every time I sit down to do so, it feels really time-consuming and hard. All of my hard-writing energy these days is reserved for Bitterblue. So here's what I'm thinking I might do instead: blog about little pieces of my journey here and there, when I have the time, and when it feels like a nice break from my work.

Today, I'm going to share one little part of my visit to Hamburg. Did you know that the port of Hamburg is one of the largest ports in the whole wide world? I went on a harbor tour and my little boat took us in and among the container docks, where we watched cranes loading big, huge containers on and off of big, huge container ships that had come all the way from Budapest, Monrovia, Cyprus, Bilbao. The containers were stamped with some brand names I recognized, and others I didn't. I got shivers watching all that work take place, guessing that some of the things I use are probably in thos…

An Auction to Help Japan. (Want Books?)

I have a thousand things to say about the beautiful time I'm having in Germany; I have no time for blogging. For now, a link to an online auction to help Japan. You bid on fun stuff; if you win a bid, you pay the money to an approved charitable organization; you provide proof of your charitable contribution; you receive your fun item. More info about how the auction works can be found here and here. There's some super-fun stuff being offered! Care packages! I want to receive a care package!

Anyway. Here is a link to my own offer, which is for signed/personalized English-language copies of Graceling + Fire to the top four bidders (each winner gets both books). Want to donate money to Doctors Without Borders and get signed/personalized books from me? Probably with stickers of knights and fire-breathing chickens battling inside? Then go bid. I will mail books anywhere in the world.

Many thanks to Deborah for posting this offer on my behalf.

I Choose This As the Subject Line

When I'm really, really tired and trying to juggle too many balls (metaphorically), sometimes my short-term memory completely vanishes. For example, I'll be walking along the street, see the cash machine, and think to myself, "Maybe I should get some cash just in case I need it at the airport tomorrow. Should I? Shouldn't I? Yes, I should!", I'll think, proud of myself for making an important travel-related decision. Then I'll look around in confusion, wonder why I'm having a conversation with myself on the sidewalk, and walk home. Forgetting all about the cash. Or, something that just happened 15 minutes ago: I'll let myself into the lobby of my building, and then, as I'm walking the short distance to my door, put my keys away in my bag, proud of myself for this excellent example of multitasking. Finding myself at my door, I'll stare at the door in confusion, remember I need the key to get inside, then panic for a moment, because I can…

Badly Done, New York Times

[Warning for triggers: rape, and infuriatingly offensive reporting of same]

God, it infuriates me that theNew York Times, reporting about a case of gang rape in Cleveland, Texas, decided that it was appropriate to include this in the article: "Residents in the neighborhood where the abandoned trailer stands — known as the Quarters — said the victim had been visiting various friends there for months. They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said."

Because we all know what it means, right, that she "dressed older than her age" and "would hang out with teenage boys?" New York Times, you must be aware that that's code for "she was asking for it?" And that by printing this statement without drawing any critical attention to it, you're suggesting it could be true?

Also, did I mention yet that we're talking about an e…

Germany Itinerary, Stuff and Things

This morning, while running along the river, I saw that the recent rain had melted all the snow and ice that's been floating on the river for months -- except for these two round clumps of snow near the footbridge. Then their necks came out of the water and I realized they were swans. Welcome, swans! And just now, as I sit here dictating, the sun has broken through the clouds. I cannot believe it's March.

I am thrilled to report that I now have my German tour schedule to share. (ETA: the readings will be in both English and German, alternating. I will read the English. I will not read the German!)

Monday, March 14: Hamburg7:00 p.m.Reading at Allee-Theater, Max-Brauer-Allee 76, Hamburg
Tuesday, March 15: Erfurt8:00 p.m.Reading at bookstore Buchhandlung Peterknecht, Anger 28, 99084 Erfurt
Wednesday, March 16: Gustavsburg3:00 p.m.Reading at Buch- und Kulturzentrum Villa Herrmann, Mozartstraße 3, 65462 Gustavsburg
Wednesday, March 16: Rüsselsheim8:00 p.m.Reading at bookstore Bücherhau…

Linky Randutiae

I cannot recommend last weekend's This American Life, called "DIY," strongly enough. Here's the description from the website: "After four lawyers fail to get an innocent man out of prison, his friend takes on the case himself. He becomes a do-it-yourself investigator. He learns to read court records, he tracks down hard-to-find witnesses, he gets the real murderer to come forward with his story. In the end, he's able to accomplish all sorts of things the police and the professionals can't." Sounds dry, right? IT SO ISN'T. It's an unbelievable story (and the closest I've ever seen TAL get to the warm fuzzies) and what blew me away were the people -- you will not believe these people. You can listen to it here.

If you've ever built IKEA furniture (or looked at the instructions), I bet these instructions for building Stonehenge will make you laugh. :o) Thanks, R.

After finishing Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth, I wandered aro…