I’m tapping away on my laptop while cruising at 35,000 feet above the arid southwest on my way from San Antonio to San Diego. My plan is to take advantage of the free WiFi offered by the airport in San Diego and post this entry before boarding the connecting flight back home to the Bay Area.
Yesterday morning I rolled myself out of bed on the early side and hopped on a Southwest plane to start my journey to the San Antonio Jewish Community Center’s 25th Annual Book Fair. (The flights went fast as I read Louise Penny’s marvelous Still Life on the way.) The energetic and charming Aliyah Kuchinsky had invited me to come on down even though her first name means to come on up. Last night then, I spoke for a few minutes about the reluctant hero caught up in big event and cited Hitchcock films as an inspiration for Dot Dead. Given the audience, the place, and the time of year (it’s Jewish Book Month), I also mentioned the ur-reluctant hero, Moses, who told God to find someone else to lead the Israelites out of slavery.
Aliyah had come across me in New York last June as she endured the hundred two-minute spiels from Jewish writers to decide whom to invite to the book fair. On the night I was "auditioning," Cynthia Kaplan stood out for her funny, Nora Ephronesque musings on her life. Cynthia was on the program last night with me (and as acerbic and laugh-engendering as ever), and two writers I hadn’t met.
Michael Lowenthal, who was introduced as a Dartmouth valedictorian, stumbled on a little-known, dark corner of our Republic’s history and wrote a novel on it. Who knew that during World War I, young American women were forcibly tested for venereal disease? Those unfortunate enough to test positive were put in camps to ensure they would not infect our doughboys. Interesting, huh?
Jonathan Tropper was playing poker one day with two buddies while their wives were out of town together. He’s the kind of guy who would wonder out loud what life would be like for them if their spouses’ plane went down. The result of the musing is How to Talk to a Widower, which, judging from the excerpt Jonathan read, sure sounds funny. After he was done reading, he had quite a crowd around him – of course, he’d let slip that Brad Pitt had optioned his first novel.
After the event, we drove around San Antonio looking for a restaurant that was still open after 10. More nice conversation with the other writers and with Aliyah, her husband Cory, and two delightful committee members, Susan and Mindi. In honor of the occasion, I had a smoked salmon wrap and a local amber beer, which was very smooth. Cynthia and I started comparing travel schedules and figured out that that next week we’re the two speakers at a “luncheon” at the Jewish Community Center in Ft. Myers, Florida. (My mother used to go to “luncheons” all the time. This might be my first.)
The plane this morning left in time. A good start. Cooking Shabbat dinner tonight is on my list of responsibilities and a late flight will mean a very late dinner.
Update. Good news from bad news. When I came out of the gate in San Diego, I saw my connecting flight was delayed. But I managed to catch a flight to San Francisco that was just leaving (they closed the door behind me) and got home two hours earlier than scheduled. The kugel is in the oven and I'm going downstairs to put the apple pie and chicken in right now.