Thursday, November 29, 2007

Me and Sandrine in New Orleans

This book tour thing is fun. Authors, if you've never gone on a book tour, go on one. I'm kind of sad that mine is over. I toured with Dedra Johnson and my fam (which was kind of like a mini-vacation for us--Dawn and I had a blast). Dedra is a cool person and a great writer (do by all means check out her novel SANDRINE'S LETTER TO TOMORROW, which reminds of Sapphire's PUSH from a few years back, same kind of theme, and with irresistible writing, set in the New Orleans of the early 70s--I do not want to give away too much of the plot, but it is a coming of age story of a girl way too young to come of age--Sandrine is a fighter, though, with brilliant observations about the harsh but beautiful world she was born into--and in the end she triumphs in a way that is unusual but satisfying--the cycle of abuse and poverty in her family ends with her--the book implies . . . we infer . . . we pray). So we traveled across the South, beginning at the St. Petersburg Book Festival and ending at the Miami International Bookfair, with stops in Coral Gables, Decatur, Gainesville, New Orleans, and parts in between. Each event had a pretty nice turnout--even Gainesville which was a nice surprise for us since we were competing with GATOR GROWL, the world's largest and rowdiest outdoor pep-rally! My Gosh, the city was rocking. There was like nowhere to park. Well that night, Dedra and I (both of us Gator alums) read to a crowd of about 30 literature-loving Gators and Gainesvillains in the event-room of Goering's Bookstore, and I must say that the book sales and question-answer period afterward implied quite satisfyingly that they "dug us." (Can you dig it?) Wordsmith's in Decatur was another smash event. Instead of telling you about it, I have linked to a write up of that event lower down on this blog. In New Orleans, Dedra's hometown, we jammed again at the Marketplace Bookstore (it was kind of weird--there were quite a few posters in the store advertising James Lee Burke and his body of work--he's especially big in New Orleans, one of the cities he now calls home--but I have been told by colleagues back at Miami-Dade College where I work, that when he taught at Miami-Dade he actually sat at my desk--in other words, my desk is James Lee Burke's old desk--ooohhh--coincidence? I say not. This is fate.) The ironic thing about New Orleans, for me, was that I did not know that land gambling was now legal there (riverboats I knew about from the old days of my wicked, vagabond life). I slept in a hotel right next to a CASINO that I did not know was a CASINO. I'm not saying that I would have gone into one of those places (as a recovering gambler I have vowed these many years never to enter them again, except to observe and take notes for my sequel, and to gamb--I mean to gather my. . . to garner the . . . to gauge the . . . what had happened was . . .), but the point is that I slept right next to a casino. Me. Ooohhh. Coincidence? I say not. This is fate. My recovery will be complete one day. I pray.

2 comments:

the prisoner's wife said...

Push is the only, well, first book to make me experience REAL emotion (read: tears) while reading, so if you are comparing this book to Push, then i'm getting very interested.

Gonzalo Barr said...

Fantastic news about the tour!

Lipshitz 6

Lipshitz 6
Reading T Cooper for Christmas

Punk Blood

Punk Blood
Jay Marvin

Breath, Eyes, Memory

Breath, Eyes, Memory

Anonymous Rex

Anonymous Rex
Reading Eric Garcia for Christmas

Vinegar Hill

Vinegar Hill
Reading A. Manette Ansay for Christmas

Nicotine Dreams

Nicotine Dreams
Reading Katie Cunningham for Christmas

Junot Diaz

Junot Diaz
Pulitzer Prize Winner!!!

Edwige Danticat

Edwige Danticat
New Year's Reading

Greed

Greed
This Brother Is Scary Good

One More Chance

One More Chance
The genius Is At It Again/The Rapper CHIEF aka Sherwin Allen

Sandrine's Letter

Sandrine's Letter
Check out Sandrine's Letter To Tomorrow. You will like it, I insist.

All or Nothing

All or Nothing

Editorial Reviews of All or Nothing

New York Times--". . . a cartographer of autodegradation . . . Like Dostoyevsky, Allen colorfully evokes the gambling milieu — the chained (mis)fortunes of the players, their vanities and grotesqueries, their quasi-philosophical ruminations on chance. Like Burroughs, he is a dispassionate chronicler of the addict’s daily ritual, neither glorifying nor vilifying the matter at hand."

Florida Book Review--". . . Allen examines the flaming abyss compulsive gambling burns in its victims’ guts, self-esteem and bank accounts, the desperate, myopic immediacy it incites, the self-destructive need it feeds on, the families and relationships it destroys. For with gamblers, it really is all or nothing. Usually nothing. Take it from a reviewer who’s been there. Allen is right on the money here."

Foreword Magazine--"Not shame, not assault, not even murder is enough reason to stop. Allen’s second novel, All or Nothing, is funny, relentless, haunting, and highly readable. P’s inner dialogues illuminate the grubby tragedy of addiction, and his actions speak for the train wreck that is gambling."

Library Journal--"Told without preaching or moralizing, the facts of P's life express volumes on the destructive power of gambling. This is strongly recommended and deserves a wide audience; an excellent choice for book discussion groups."—Lisa Rohrbaugh, East Palestine Memorial P.L., OH

LEXIS-NEXIS--"By day, P drives a school bus in Miami. But his vocation? He's a gambler who craves every opportunity to steal a few hours to play the numbers, the lottery, at the Indian casinos. Allen has a narrative voice as compelling as feeding the slots is to P." Betsy Willeford is a Miami-based freelance book reviewer. November 4, 2007

Publisher’s Weekly--"Allen’s dark and insightful novel depicts narrator P’s sobering descent into his gambling addiction . . . The well-written novel takes the reader on a chaotic ride as P chases, finds and loses fast, easy money. Allen (Churchboys and Other Sinners) reveals how addiction annihilates its victims and shows that winning isn’t always so different from losing."

Kirkus Review--"We gamble to gamble. We play to play. We don't play to win." Right there, P, desperado narrator of this crash-'n'-burn novella, sums up the madness. A black man in Miami, P has graduated from youthful nonchalance (a '79 Buick Electra 225) to married-with-a-kid pseudo-stability, driving a school bus in the shadow of the Biltmore. He lives large enough to afford two wide-screen TVs, but the wife wants more. Or so he rationalizes, as he hits the open-all-night Indian casinos, "controlling" his jones with a daily ATM maximum of $1,000. Low enough to rob the family piggy bank for slot-machine fodder, he sinks yet further, praying that his allergic 11-year-old eat forbidden strawberries—which will send him into a coma, from which he'll emerge with the winning formula for Cash 3 (the kid's supposedly psychic when he's sick). All street smarts and inside skinny, the book gives readers a contact high that zooms to full rush when P scores $160,000 on one lucky machine ("God is the God of Ping-ping," he exults, as the coins flood out). The loot's enough to make the small-timer turn pro, as he heads, flush, to Vegas to cash in. But in Sin City, karmic payback awaits. Swanky hookers, underworld "professors" deeply schooled in sure-fire systems to beat the house, manic trips to the CashMyCheck store for funds to fuel the ferocious need—Allen's brilliant at conveying the hothouse atmosphere of hell-bent gaming. Fun time in the Inferno.

World Series of Poker

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At Books and Books

At Books and Books
Me And Vicki at Our Reading

Bio


Preston L. Allen is the recipient of a State of Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in Literature and the Sonja H. Stone Prize in Fiction for his short story collection Churchboys and Other Sinners (Carolina Wren Press 2003). His works have appeared in numerous publications including The Seattle Review, The Crab Orchard Review, Asili, Drum Voices, and Gulfstream Magazine; and he has been anthologized in Here We Are: An Anthology of South Florida Writers, Brown Sugar: A Collection of Erotic Black Fiction, Miami Noir, and the forthcoming Las Vegas Noir. His fourth novel, All Or Nothing, chronicles the life of a small-time gambler who finally hits it big. Preston Allen teaches English and Creative Writing in Miami, Florida.