There’s a moment that’s hard to describe, when you receive an email with a subject line that includes your name, the title of your next book and the words “Booklist Review.”
For my third novel, Sweet as Cane, Salty as Tears — which is being released next week — the thought process was a three-step one that went something like this.
1. “Hmmmmm. Booklist Review.”
2. “Sweet! Someone reviewed the thing!”
3. “Oh shit. Someone reviewed the thing.”
And then my finger just hung there over the phone. Do I open it? I’m at work. What if it’s bad? What if it shatters my fragile writer’s ego? Equally bad, what if it sends me into a panic the entire three weeks leading up to release?
We’re coming up on the one-year mark since the release of my very first book, The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival. And i just want to take a moment to thank every single person out there who read it, bought it, borrowed it, used it in book clubs, talked about it, and gave it to others as gifts (hey, there’s still time for that!). Thanks too for the help on Twitter and Facebook, for taking photos of my baby in places like California and Ohio and Georgia and the Carolinas and Brooklyn and Ireland and even Manhattan.
I didn’t get past page three of Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat Pray Love.” I physically could not read any further. I’m an eye-roller. And by that point, my eyes had pretty much locked into a backward-facing position. “Oh, c’mon,” was the reaction I kept having. It’s not that the writing was bad. It wasn’t. I just felt like I was listening to a rich white woman whine about her life. I also knew how many women had fallen for this garbage. Here’s a secret, folks. Unlucky in love and at a transitional stage in your life? All you need is a few hundred thousand dollars and a trip around the world. Amazing what a vacation can do! Of course, what it can’t do is guarantee you love or enlightenment that lasts.
People sometimes ask me about my days as a small Cajun boy in South Louisiana. They seem to be under the impression that we rode alligators to school while wearing no shoes. That’s just about the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. Of course we wore shoes. Alligators have pointy backs.
But seriously, we didn’t have alligators. We grew up in prairie country. We weren’t Swamp Cajuns, but rather Prairie Cajuns. True story: If I see my shadow in February, it’s six more weeks of winter.
One thing writers like to do is cast the movie version of their own books. It’s especially fun when you have absolutely no sign of a movie deal on the horizon. At any rate, people have asked me before who I’d see playing various people in The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival. And I’ve typically been stumped with the part of Father Steve.
Vicky, I always sort of saw as Jennifer Aniston. Don’t judge me.
But Father Steve? George Clooney’s too old and John Krasinski was too tall (and goofy) for my liking. Then, yesterday, while walking up Third Avenue, I saw a movie poster and Paul Rudd’s face was on it.
It’s totally him. I think. Someone make that happen.
Anyone else who read the book, who’d you cast in the various parts?
Miss Rita’s tough as well. Only person I can kinda come up with is Alfree Woodard. Someone who can play older and pull of comedy as well as gravitas. Problem is I picture Miss Rita as pretty skinny. (One Facebook, someone suggested Wanda Sykes, which I kind of dig. You know how comedians like that crossover dramatic roles)
Brother Paul. Hmmm. Robert Duvall. But he’s getting up in age. Maybe John Goodman?
While in Louisiana, I actually managed to spend some time reading. Finished up the short stories of Flannery O’Connor on the way down and knocked out David Carr’s “Night of the Gun” and Emily Gould’s “And the Heart Says Whatever.”
I hadn’t really planned to write about either one of them. I’m a couple years late on Carr’s book and, frankly, I was worried I wouldn’t like Gould’s. (Despite my cranky image, when it comes to new writers if I don’t have anything nice to say, etc. I also didn’t feel like putting up with cat-calls from the peanut gallery.)
But! (As they say on Gawker and The Awl.)