Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Picking Bones from Ash Publication Party

Many thanks to everyone who came out to help celebrate Picking Bones from Ash. The party was very generously hosted by CLMP, a fitting venue since Graywolf Press also shares the office space. So, thank you to the CLMP staff, and to Graywolf for giving my book such a lovely send off. I'm a lucky author!

And thanks much to Trader Joe's which has created a nice sparkling sake that looked quite at home beside my book. It's like a co-branding thing, almost. The girl on the sake bottle is even facing the same direction as the woman on my book.

Jeffrey Lependorf-a shakuhachi master among many other things-played a small piece on his bamboo flute. The piece he played was composed for pregnant women--like me--and said to mimic the sound of cranes--an auspicious bird in Japan. This was quite a moving experience and marks the second time I've been spoiled enough to hear Jeffrey play on a day of personal importance. That's Ron Hogan in the background, and a very moved Amanda DeRecupido.

Gordon, discoverer of the Trader Joes sake, then proposed a toast. Which I could not drink. Well, I suppose I could have been like Gwyneth and had a little bit.

I was a little bit shy about reading my book outloud in front of so many friends. I've read in front of large crowds of strangers--and that in some ways is easier. But my agent, and my friend Mary Ann (pictured here) convinced me that I had to read, and I'm glad I did.

So I began with the opening lines. "My mother always told me . . ."

. . . at which point, my mother started giggling. So, then we had to stop and I had to explain that my own mother really had not said any of these things and that the story was really and truly all made up, and that while my friends keep thinking they have found traces of themselves in the characters, I really was just relying on my imagination to bring the world of Picking Bones Ash to life.

My very proud mother.

The very lovely Heidi Durrow, who is responsible for all the photos in this blog post, since I was running around talking to everyone and signing books.

Heidi is also the author of the forthcoming "The Girl Who Fell from the Sky," which I cannot wait to read-not just because of all the exciting pre-publication press, but also because Heidi is a tremendously intelligent and sensitive person. I'm so looking forward to her novel-and so should you.

I was also thrilled that some of my Bread Loaf friends were able to come help me celebrate. I so wanted a photo of all of us, but never managed to get everyone together. Here are Sunil Yapa and Moshe Schulman, waiters, and Gerald Maa, sound booth engineer extraordinaire. All are wonderful writers.

And finally, I was happy to see Jessica Francis Kane, and Tiphanie Yanique, girl writers extraordinaire, whose books are forthcoming from Graywolf.

Thanks again to all my friends for making this such a special night!

Now on to Portland!

Congratulations! I've just ordered your book and can't wait to read it. I've been reading your blog with great interest. It's really nice to see you embracing both your cultures (especially with regard to food and j-dorama!) and your pictures of sakura (that's my name!) and the wheat fields are really beautiful.
Thank you so much! It's nice to hear from someone who peeks in on my life every now and then and to know that some of what I post is interesting (love the name sakura). Glad you like the wheat fields-they are beautiful in their own way. Happy reading to you and thank you again for stopping by to say hello.
Hi Marie, I met you waiting for the train in Portland. You were on your way to Seattle to give a reading at Elliott Bay. I'm looking forward to reading your novel. I was interested to see that you'd been on a panel with Naseem Rahka, who I know from my activist work in Oregon. Small world. Your mom is great - I thoroughly enjoyed talking with her as we waited for the train. Hope the rest of your travels improved after the train fiasco!

Hope Marston
Hope! Thank you so much for stopping by! That was an epic train trip, wasn't it? I'm sorry I was so tired and sick most of the time. Fortunately, I had enough energy for the reading and it did go well. And I'm glad you and my mother hit it off. She is wonderful.

Interesting that you know Naseem--I greatly enjoyed meeting her. What a lovely person-and obviously very intelligent too. Thank you so much for stopping by. Hello to your husband, and continued safe travels!
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