A picture of a real Texan, strong, manly, imposing. Definitely not some one who believes in gay marriage. Or soy milk.
You know writers. We´re so unbelievably demanding.
When we travel for six hours to do a book signing, we expect the book store to get the book. That was not the case at Book People independent bookstore in Austin. Thirty people showed up for My Gorgeous Book Signing Without Books. However, the store did apologize, the audience was great - and what the hell, people can buy The Tsar's Dwarf on Amazon.com, any way.
So no, I wasn't mad at Book People. I'm proud to say I took this humiliation as a man. Shit happens as my grandmother used to say. And I did spend a wonderful hour with the cream of Texan book lovers. I now have thirty two readers in The Lone Star state, so I haven't lived in vain. If you can make it in Austin, you can make it anywhere - my grandmother used to say that, too.
Luckily, I did another presentation of The Tsar's Dwarf as well, at University of Texas. I appeared in a Danish class in Bordine Hall. That's right, a Danish class. You actually have 14 weird students at UT who want to learn Danish. I don't know whether they've been forced at gunpoint, but they should get an award. These people could have chosen Spanish, Mandarin, Croatian or Urdu, but they decided to go with the only language that makes sense.
Frankly, I felt like kissing every single of them, but since you're not supposed to touch your students, I just drooled. And insulted them. You always want to have a little fun when you've traveled for six hours.
I was also happy to visit Texas for another reason - a deeply embarrassing one, to tell you the truth: I've always had a lot of prejudices against the Longhorn State. And I don't like being prejudiced, so my travels had a therapeutic purpose as well. In a certain sense, it was a pilgrimage: I wanted the state of Texas to forgive me for my sins.
Why have I been prejudiced against The Lone Star state, you ask curiously? Well, I blame the movies of my childhood - and all those big steaks that give you indigestion. I've always associated the worst things with Texas: cowboys, gung ho Bushes, gung ho Armstrongs - and I don't like any of them. Cowboys kill Indians and I like Indians. Bush kill Iraqis and I like Iraqis. Armstrong doesn't dope and I like doping. Then if you throw in the Christian Right and people who get a kick out of shooting others, Texas seems like a nightmare for any sissy - a Heaven for Republican gun slingers who think Glenn Beck is cool.
But forgive me, Lord, I was so wrong.
In Austin people actually seem enlightened. They drink caffe latte and watch English soccer; they ride funny bikes and wear designer flip flops - they even read Danish novels. What more can you ask of any civilized person? And the Texans are nice and friendly. They don't even talk that funny - they leave that to me. So I'm sure I'll be back some day for more of those kinky Breakfast tacos.
And hey, next time I might do a book signing in a book store where they actually have ordered my books. Then, I swear I'm going to be the happiest novelist in the world ...
Caffé Medici in Austin. An enlightened place for Texans who aren't afraid of ordering a latte.