dear salon readers:
I promised I would check in whenever I could from the road, where I have been out flogging my new novel. I have a new marketing approach -- I used to try to con people in the most indirect possible way into buying my book. Now I just tell them they really have to. For instance, in Los Angeles, I got up to the podium of a large bookstore and held up "Crooked Little Heart." "Please," I said, with a lot of obvious pain in my voice. "Please buy my book. Please please please." Pause. "It will really hurt my family if you don't." I licked my lips with quiet desperation. "I could lose Sam," I said, "if ya don't."
It was very effective. I sold lots of books.
I got in half an hour ago from Santa Barbara, and leave for New York the day after tomorrow. My first book, "Hard Laughter," got a terrible review in the Santa Barbara paper 17 years ago and I am still holding a grudge. I have been very upfront about not being one of those Christians who is heavily into forgiveness. The book was about my father's brain cancer; the loss of my dad, who I loved more than life itself. The reviewer, who was mean as a snake, said that people might enjoy the book if they felt like reading about a New Age Addams Family. "Here is your review from Santa Barbara," my editor wrote across the top of the review, "where people never die."
I am mentally ill beyond all imagining: On top of having been on dozens of planes in the last few days, and being separated from Sam all this time, I have also become a person of allergy. I've become one of those middle-aged people who suddenly becomes allergic. And here I've always secretly believed that allergic people were just being neurotic, nasally bad sports; that if they had a richer inner life like me they would not be so congested and drag-queeny every April. And now I have become allergic, too. It's a NIGHTMARE.
But the good news is that I discovered the secret of life taped to a computer at the NPR affiliate in San Diego. I have it written on my hand so that when I am congested and hysterical -- picture the late great Divine with a sinus infection -- and the tiniest bit self-obsessed, as I tend to get when I am out on tour, I can at least remember what my operating instructions are. The secret of life was written beneath a picture of a gorilla and the headline: Mantra for the American Jungle. "Remain calm," it read. "And share your bananas."
And lastly. I do not know if they have e-mail in heaven yet. Things go so slowly there. I understand that they just recently got air hockey But if they do, a whole lot of us would try to send the following message to our beloved and beautiful friend Michael Dorris: Hello, you sweetheart. We are missing you like mad. We are holding you and your children in our hearts, now and always. Amen.