Monday, March 30, 2009


After a day hanging out in DC with Teresa and Rollie in their home, M and I packed the rental (it’s a Ford Focus with Wisconsin plates – M thinks it’s red, I think it’s kinda mauve) and headed to Baltimore for the second reading with Robert Arellano and the first on this leg of the tour not at a bookstore.


Bobby – a classic barbudo whose kind eyes undercut the severity of his guerilla look -- is an Akashic stablemate but also an Akashic stalwart. Havana Lunar, from which he’s been reading on this tour, is his third outing with them. The first two, Don Dimaio of La Plata and Fast Eddie, King of the Bees, were masterfully crazy political satires about corruption in New Jersey – so Havana Lunar, a crime novel set during the same period and, in some cases, even the same places as Ruins, is a new direction for him.


Bobby, who was conceived in Cuba but born in the U.S., says he started working on this novel more than 10 years ago, when he first went to the island, but it took this long to pull all the pieces together. He went back every year for ten years (we heard stories on the road that led us to believe Bobby’s had a very interesting life: three months in a cabin in Baja California, touring as a guitarist with radically avant garde bands … ), each time adding more and more to the collection of anecdotes and observations.


During our travels I was most amazed by the fact that Bobby reads something different from the novel every single night. Considering that it was in Baltimore when I felt my selection was finally right, I found this akin to reading on a highwire. Seriously, my tour copy of Ruins is so severely marked up -- whole stretches are scratched out, others crowded w/ notes – no one else could possibly read from it at this point, or even understand what I’m doing.


We were also flabbergasted to hear that Bobby’s wife is nine months pregnant and taking care of their 3 year old boy back in New Mexico, with a C section scheduled for Monday immediately after our journeys. I mean, talk about living dangerously!


At the Enoch Pratt Free Library, we were set up in the Poe Room at a long formal table. We each read and took questions until the library closed down around us. Then we tried desperately to take our picture next to the giant windows with the banners with our names but the high intensity lights kept washing Bobby and me out. Damn!


In Baltimore, we also hung out with M’s friend Aaron, a city native who kept bemoaning the fact that we weren’t staying so he could show us around.


“What would you show us?” I asked.


“Let me think … “ he pondered. But he never did he get back to us on this. (Baltimorians, please let us know what we should see next time we’re in your city!)

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