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Thisbe Nissen: Tour Diary

Preliminaries - Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5 - Day 6 -
Day 7 - Day 8 - Day 9 - Day 10 - Day 11 -Day 12 - Day 13 - Day 14 - Day 15 -
Day 16 - Day 17 - Day 18 - Day 19 - Day 20 - Day 21 - Day 22 -
Day 23 - Day 24 - Day 25 - Day 26 - Day 27 - Day 28 - Day 29 - Home Diary - July 25 - July 26

Day 28: San Francisco to Ann Arbor

and we have to start all over again. Return rental car, stand in insanely long airport line, board flight, fly in sleep-deprived stupor to Detroit, catch cab to Ann Arbor, make cab driver go way out into the middle of nowhere, following directions Chris has scrawled on the back of a Kinko's card, to his aunt and uncle's house, tucked away in paradise just outside of Ann Arbor. It's good to be in a house again, not a hotel, and we have such a nice dinner with them before the reading. The last time I read at Shaman Drum for the first "Girls' Room" tour it was on a night when the graduate fiction workshop met, so none of those people could come, and on a night when Seamus Heany just happened to be in town. There were like 3 people there. But this time there are a ton of people -- and what's miraculous is that I don't know any of them. There's a huge poster out front (thank goodness, and finally! The entire west coast portion was devoid of posters, which was particularly highlighted by the huge Bee Season posters in every bookstore, with tiny copies of my book dwarfed beside it) and it turns out a ton of people are there because of the HUGE feature that wonderful blessed Marta Salij ran in the Detroit Free Press today! We get to see it after the reading, and there's picture of me on the front of the "The Way We Live" section that literally takes up half the page. I am eternally grateful. The audience is super, their questions are awesome, and a lot of them hang out after and buy books and talk to me. A couple come up and I ask them who I should sign the book to and they say, "Make it: To Kevin Brockmeier, You should definitely move to Ann Arbor, not Iowa City!" and we all start laughing because these people are clearly my friend Kevin's friends Lewis and Sylvia who have just left Kevin in Little Rock, Arkansas to move up here. Kevin (whose wonderful stories, "Things That Fall From the Sky," will be out next spring from Pantheon, by the way) wants to leave Little Rock too, and he's debating between Iowa City and Ann Arbor. So here I am, confronted with my competitors in the struggle for Kevin Brockmeier! They are lovely and Ann Arbor is lovely and I will fully understand if Kevin chooses them over us. When Lewis, Sylvia and I say goodbye we say that we'll see each other again soon, either when they come visit Kevin in Iowa or I come visit him here...

Coincidences of the evening: there's a woman here who actually lives in Berkeley and saw one of the huge posters there of me and hadn't ever heard of me before but thought she might like to go to the reading, except that she had to go home for a wedding during the time when I was in the Bay Area. So she goes home for the wedding and her mom pulls out a newspaper and says she saw this interesting looking reading going on that night at Shaman Drum and does she maybe want to go? We decide it is fated. She buys the novel and the stories! There's also a woman named Maisie at the reading, who happened to pick up the story collection and open it randomly to a page of "Flowers in the Dustbin..." where Maisie is a character! THEN, when we're just about ready to go, a woman comes in who I knew at Hunter and have not seen for what must be 12 years. Turns out Mira's been in Ann Arbor since college and is just about to move to LA in a few days and was packing and using a stack of newspapers to wrap glassware when she suddenly realized she was holding a paper with a picture of me on it! Crazy! I feel so good when we leave tonight, and Chris' uncle Paul takes us out for enormous ice cream cones and we stand licking them on the street in Ann Arbor which feels like Iowa City, almost, and definitely feels like we're close to home, that midwestern heat, that real feeling of summer, and I am so filled for nostalgia for home and for all this here in the center of the country that I have come to love so much, and it's amazing, that feeling. I know the west coast is beautiful and there's a lot going on and everything, but god, it feels so good to be back in the air that feels like the air of home.