Watch Out USA, I’m Coming Your Way…

After much organisation, faffing, missing out on the right flights, then being unable to book the next-right ones and then sitting in a dejected mess because my bank thought I was a fraudster – I can now confirm that I am officially booked, signed, sealed and everything for a trip to the USA in August. And what a trip it is going to be…

First up I am heading, via Munich and Chicago oddly, to Asheville in North Carolina where (and I am start struck already) I will be spending a long weekend at one of the Booktopia’s which Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness, of the marvellous Books on the Nightstand Podcast, organise every year around America. The itinerary looks marvellous and I have been reliably informed I may just be mentoring an event with Anthony Marra (of whose A Constellation of Vital Phenomena I was all over) which gain is just too exciting, in fact so exciting it is almost untrue. Ann, Michael and myself may even make time to record a special edition of The Readers!

Speaking of The Readers, once the Booktopia weekend is over the blues I am sure to feel will fly away (quite literally) as I then head to stay with my lovely co-host and unofficial travel agent Thomas in Washington for a few days. This I am imaging will involve some touristy sightseeing, book hunting and lying down by the pool rather a lot, all with lashings of bookish banter. Again, I am excited and beyond about this.

Then, because I won’t have done quite enough travelling, I am off to New York for a while where I am going to be doing more (slightly secretive) bookish stuff and wandering around being a tourist before I fly home at the beginning of September… Phew!

I have just realised I haven’t booked in a theme park on this trip and American theme parks are the best! DratsI Anyway… So if you are in any of these places; Asheville, Washington or NYC then do let me know. I am planning on packing Gone With The Wind (it is almost North Carolina, no?) for the long flights and the seven hours in Chicago airport on the way but as always if you have some recommendations for books set in Asheville, Washington or NYC I would be thrilled to get some ideas, or indeed for any of the ‘Great American Novels’ I have yet to read…


Filed under Random Savidgeness

28 responses to “Watch Out USA, I’m Coming Your Way…

  1. kaggsysbookishramblings

    Sounds fab Simon – have a wonderful trip!!!!!

  2. Carol in Maryland

    Simon,, Asheville is in the mountains of NC and has little if anything to do with events in GONE WITH THE WIND. (sorry to disappoint you, it’s still a real page-turner) Look into Sharyn McCrumb’s Ballad Series set in the North Carolina-Tennessee mountains. Have a wonderful trip!

  3. Roger Park

    Going to Asheville first may mean you won’t want to leave it!  It has been a while since I was last there but it’s so artsy and gay.  A wonderful place.



  4. Donna Drew Sawyer

    An early welcome to the USA! You asked for book set in Washington, DC – Au Pair Report by Kelly Hand. It is a unique novel that could only be in based in DC – sex, politics and childcare! Worth a look I think.

  5. You are going to have such a wonderful time – how exciting!!

  6. Kateg

    I live in NYC ( well actual one of the outer boroughs and not Manhattan proper) and there are so many books set in New York. My current favorite is Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann although the city is much changed and cleaned up since he wrote it. If your schedule permits, I would love to met up for a coffee and some bookish wanderings. I have attended 3 Booktopias but cannot make it to Asheville. I think Ann and Michael will vouch that am I not an insane stalker, but a nice middle aged book addict!!

  7. Carol S

    Middlesex by Jeffrey Eudenides is rather marvellous

  8. How about these?

    “Henderson the Rain King” or “Herzog” by Saul Bellow (yes I do know he was born in Canada but he grew up in the USA). Or (in a completely different style) the posthumously published novel of J K O’Toole “A Confederacy of Dunces”. I have no idea if these are books you have “yet to read” but if you haven’t then do. Enjoy your visit.

  9. rivercityreading

    So great that you have everything straight and will be joining us in Asheville! It’s going to be my first time there, too, so I’m quite excited. Sad that you’re not driving from Asheville to DC, you could have made a pit-stop in my lovely Richmond, VA for a good dose of Gone With the Wind-ish Civil War history.

    It’s not set in Asheville, but Wilton Barnhardt’s Lookaway, Lookaway is in Charlotte, North Carolina and is a fabulously insightful/funny parody of old money Southern culture. I absolutely adored it.

  10. I love all 3 cities! What a great itinerary. “Look Homeward Angel” by Thomas Wolfe is a classic that takes place in Asheville. It’s about a young man’s desire to leave his small hometown in North Carolina to go to Harvard, I believe (and largely autobiographical from what I understand). It’s in my TBR pile but I am hoping to read it before long.

  11. Awesome!! Have a great time while you’re here in the states 😀

  12. EllenB

    I was about to mention Thomas Wolfe when I saw comment above. His house is a museum I believe. Very cool city in the most beautiful mountains imaginable. Several book stores, good restaurants ( be sure to eat pimento cheese and shrimp and grits mmmmmm. Lots of gay life going on. Very liberal laid back city for the South.
    On the other hand I am a New Yorker. Actually moved 20 minutes north of the City after I retired as a store manager for B&N. Happy to make suggestions or meet for coffee or whatever. Too old and lazy to run all over or make the bar scene but am a font of information! BookSnob and I are good friends so you can ask her whether or not I’m a weirdo! She and I did all sorts of bookish things when she lived in NYC for a year. Also have many many gay friends, including a daughter, so whatever info you need I can provide, I hope. Is The Beard coming along? Cool trip to make together if you can.

    Read E.B. White’s Here is New York and Joseph Mitchell’s Up in the Old Hotel. These are classic NYC titles but still the best things written about the City and how we New Yorkers like to imagine it still is.

    Ellen Bernstein

  13. EllenB

    PS I almost forgot that Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, died in a fire in a mental institution where she was confined in Asheville. So, you may want to try Z A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Fowler, Zelda, a bio by Milford, or The Collected Writings of Zelda Fitzgerald. Their complicated relationship is still an object of speculation, fascination and plain old gossip.

  14. q

    faaabulous…..confirm recommendation of ‘up in the old hotel’…but just want to warn..those cities will be HUMID in august…maybe not nyc..but other 2 most def,,,,,commando travel…..have a blast!

  15. Carol S

    My recommendation is awaiting moderation rather a long time, maybe due to a syllable in the title: a place beginning with Middle that is a county in north London??? The author Jeffrey Eugenides.

  16. Simon,
    A preemptive welcome. Hope you have a blast. Here’s a great piece of Americana to start you on your way.


  17. Sounds like an epic trip, indeed! I used to live in NC and am terribly sad I’m not still there since I love Asheville and Booktopia sounds glorious.

  18. 7 hours in Chicago airport is not something to relish. It’s full of junk food outlets. I did find a tiny bookshop in one terminal but otherwise the pickings are very slim so do make sure you have plenty of yiur own reading stuff with you.

  19. I live in the burbs of Chicago, so I wish you were around longer to have a natter about books! Don’t forget to wander into the Library of Congress while in DC, and if you get a chance visit Capitol Hill Books near the Eastern Market. I’m sure Thomas knows where it is! Enjoy your trip across the pond!

  20. “Manhattan Transfer” by John Dos Passos (set in NYC!)

  21. Peggy

    Re theme park: when in NYC you might want to head out to Coney Island if you like rollercoasters. There’s an old wooden one and a brand new one.

  22. Nancy R

    7 hours at O’Hare is legally torture…if you’re interested, I can pick you up at the airport, take you to my favorite store (shop) in Chicago–Unabridged Books–and get a slap-up meal before your flight to Asheville. Don’t want to cut into your reading time though…

  23. Amy C

    I’ll be at Booktopia in Asheville too! Perhaps I’ll see you there, looking forward to a great bookish weekend.

    • You will definitely see me there Amy! I am looking forward to meeting everyone at the events. I think I might just be facilitating an author or two 😉 Well definitely one!

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