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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

July 26

The drive from Milwaukee to Chicago is nothing, and I arrive with a whole afternoon to spare which I spend wandering around downtown Chicago, department stores and crowded streets. It feels decadent and good. When I can't take the consumerism anymore (and having managed not to buy anything as well) I head toward the water and sit on the pier to read Dan Chaon's Among the Missing, which was given to me by the good people at Harry Schwartz in Milwaukee. I'm three stories in and loving it. (ok, not the first story so much, but the second two I did love). He's really good. I met him a few years ago when he was teaching at Oberlin. I wonder if he's still there. . .

I dine al fresco in the "old town" just down the street from Barbara's Bookstore: grilled calamari, a glass of pinot grigio, a canoli and a cappucino. The wind is blowing pretty ferociously but it's such a gorgeous day I can't bear to go inside.

The reading has a great turnout tonight too, and the response seems overall positive (except for that one guy who at the end of the Q&A, talking about where I was from, asked "What part of New York are we talking about here?" and I said, "Manhattan," and he stood up and said, 'Yeah, Manhattan, the center of the world, right?" and I said, "Yeah, Manhattanites DO think they live in the center of the world, don't they?" But he was already heading, scowling, for the door, convinced I was one of them. ) But to make up for him, who's in the audience tonight but my roommate from summer stock in Killington, Vermont, summer of '88: Stephanie Power! It doesn't dawn on me at first who she is, some woman waiting till the rest of the line disperses to talk to me. The last person ahead of her gets up to me and I suddenly look over and realize: "I just figured out who you are!" I cry. She laughs. God, someone I lost track of way too long ago. But now she's a Chicagoan, such an easy trip from IC. We exchange all the relevant information. Turns out also that when she saw the listing in the paper for the reading she went to the Knopf website to find out more about me and the book and wound up seeing some contest they have up to win a signed copy of Good People by emailing in my whereabouts on Day 19 of the tour, which she did, and promptly won! So pleasing!

I part from Stephanie and her nice friend Kim and hit the interstate for my 233 miles of I-80 back to Iowa City. It's a long drive at 10 at night. . . I listen to Madame Bovary on tape from the public library, a book I've never been able to make it through actually reading. AT a truck stop I buy tropical Skittles in a blue bag. . . repulsive. Like bath beads! Nasty. I arrive home with an empty tank of gas and bleary eyes, greeted by a sleepy, sleeping Christopher and the two feline loves of my life. I'm home for three whole weeks now! Three weeks! It's a relief beyond reliefs.