Flog & Blog: The way to San Jose

Kipen boxThe former books editor of the San Francisco Chronicle is driving south to appear tonight at Book Soup. He blogs from the road:

I’m driving south on Highway 101 toward San Jose, following the path of the El Camino Real. I passed the turnoff to Half Moon Bay, home to Richard Rhodes the Kansas transplant, and now famous California writer of “Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb” and “The Making of the Atomic Bomb,” about the Manhattan Project. And also “The Inland Ground: An Evocation of the American Middle West,” his first collection of nonfiction, which I picked up two weeks ago in Kansas when I was on a trip for the NEA.

I’m on my way to Kepler’s Books & Magazines to sign copies of "The Schreiber Theory," my new book. I’ve been to Kepler’s before, when I promoted “My California: Journeys by Great Writers” but I heard it had posted a closing notice soon after that. It's clientele rose up and said, “We’re not going to stand for this!” and, using the internet, raised the funds necessary to buy it from the owner and run it as a public trust. It's a real success for California bookselling.

I’m driving to Kepler’s from San Francisco, where I just appeared on KQEDs “Forum” with host Michael Krasny. For the benefit of those people who weren’t hanging on my every word (those of you in a publishing house in Hoboken, New Jersey) the interview went very well.

The key to the whole thing happened before we went on air. I made a mistake that rookie “booktourers” might make — they scheduled me to appear with Marilyn Fabe, a professor at UC Berkeley who is teaching a course on the auteur theory and is the author of her own book, "Closely Watched Films: An Introduction to the Art of Narrative Film Technique," which takes the opposite position of my book "The Schreiber Theory."

She is a lovely woman, and from the look of it, "Closely Watched Films" is an interesting book, and she was brandishing it in a sort of humble way and obviously wanting Michael, the show’s host, to take a closer look at it. So I made the mistake of trying to do a good turn to another guest. I had been looking at the book and handed it to Michael, he looked at it carefully, handed it back to me to hand back to Marilyn and what happened? I dropped it on my tea and it spilled all over the console, we almost had an electrocution, and I had to be relocated across the desk with 30 seconds to air.

Let this be a lesson to the rookie authors! Although it broke the ice (and almost broke the table), from there we relaxed since the worst was behind us. We realized that the best we could do would be to try to have an interesting conversation.

I just saw Marsh Avenue, so I’m about 3 miles from Kepler’s. More once I arrive!

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