Read The Tsar's Dwarf (Hawthorne Books)

Read The Tsar's Dwarf (Hawthorne Books)
"A curious and wonderful work of great human value by a Danish master." Sebastian Barry, Man Booker finalist (Click on the picture to go to the book's Amazon page)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Ghost at Tower Bridge (A True Story)


1.
I was just in London for the weekend.

As most sane people, I like the city immensely. London is full of fun and excitement - for instance, there are so many ways you can get run over in England. The British cars come at you from unexpected angles. It's part of that London experience: when are you going to get mowed down - and by what? The first time I was in London I was hit by a double decker; the next time by a milkman. Yes, London is great fun and the British hospitals are cheery places - I usually bring a date.

London is also a city full of ghosts.

No, I'm not talking about Tony Blair. He is gone. I'm talking about real ghosts in real apartments. You don't even need to stay at a castle or an old inn. You can find many in the posh Tower Bridge district.

I should know because I visited my friend Ruthie who has psychic abilities. Let me give you an example of her amazing gift: The first time she saw me she knew I was an asshole. That was in Koh Samui six years ago at a health spa. We both got dengue - at a health spa! And lost seven kilo. You could say that we bonded over our diarrhea.

But back to the ghost: There's a dead guy in Ruthie's apartment and he sucks the air of the place.

He's not a scary ghost, mind you. He doesn't tackle you rugby style or make you trip over stools; he just stares at you from his corner - you feel that some one is watching you; it's a bit like being in Syria.

"What am I going to do with Presence?" Ruthie asks me one evening. That's her name for the ghost. Not Jerkface, but Presence.

I find that endearing. But I guess you should be nice to your ghost. There's no reason to make him angry; the ghost might get a heart attack and die.

Ruthie has tried to get rid of him for a long time. She has tried Buddhist rituals and Japanese chants. She even reads him Norwegian poetry, but good old Presence just stays around sucking the energy out of the apartment. She can't write in her own place, it makes her tired staying there for more than a night.

"What do you think Presence wants?" I ask Ruthie who is a lawyer who has gone to Psychic School, "your legal advice?"

Ruthie sighs. She's tired of him but a bit fascinated as well. It's probably the fascination that keeps him there.

But ghosts don't belong on earth. They should go back to their ghost towns and rest.

Isn't that part of the curriculum at Psychic School - along with channeling God and deceased poodles?


2.
The last day I'm in the apartment Presence fucks with the internet. Ruthie can't get online. But funnily enough, I can.

"It's because of my un-psychic ability," I tell her. However, it's not true because I suddenly catch a glimpse of the ghost and sense him, too. Presence has come back. He wasn't here when I arrived. Maybe he went to Wimbledon to watch some tennis?

"Please stay here with Ruthie," I tell the ghost, "don't stalk me; my girlfriend won't like you."

But when I get back to my apartment in Copenhagen I actually see some one next to me when I work at my computer. I won't name the porn site I'm on, but let me put it this way: That ghost is a bit of a pervert.

But how an alien like him got through Danish immigrations I'll never know.



This British woman has obviously seen a ghost at the fruit stand. Or is it just the obscene prices she reacts to?

****

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dammit, I Missed The Naked Bike Ride in Portland (Sweaty Balls and All)



I'm still disappointed I didn't make it to The Naked Bike Ride Saturday night in Portland. All those bloated bellies and saggy balls flapping in the wind.

My Pale Girlfriend and I wanted to go, but as everybody knows it's hard work getting naked. First you have to take off your clothes, then you have to make sure that your genitals are behaving.

But if God has blessed you with a great body, you have a responsibility to flaunt it. I don't mean to brag but I'm a 53 year old with a body of a 52 year old.  I belonged in that race, and I wasn't going to wear a sissy helmet or a g-string like all the Germans I know.

The ride is part of The World Naked Bike Ride, an annual occurrence in Portland, San Francisco, and several degenerate cities in Europe. I've heard they even have one at Guatanamo bay. This year thousands of Portlanders biked through downtown to prove that riding naked is the thing to do when it's 56 degrees and your nipples are as hard as kidney stones.

But as I said we never made it. My Pale Girlfriend and I had just stripped naked when we found a mouse in the house. The mouse raced through the apartment and hid under the sofa. I tried to get it out with a broom. When that didn't work I went New Age on the rodent. "I see God in you, so get the fuck out of there before I call Rent-a-Cat."

And it's true. I don't want to kill any animal on earth; it's only people I feel like terminating. God, we did everything in our power to get rid of the mouse. First, we put on a noisy fan, then we ran around screaming like maniacs.

"No, we have to do something nastier than that," I said to my girlfriend and played some Country  music, but the mouse still stayed put. Later we found out that it had built a nest under one of the cushions. It was quite comfortable there. The mouse munched on our goat cheese and my liver pate - it even enjoyed watching Judge Judy.

So My Pale Girlfriend and I missed The Naked Bike Ride. And I wanted to go so badly - not to show off my ten inches (I have a long collarbone), but to teach people how vulnerable cyclists are in traffic. You see, The Naked Bike Ride in Portland is not about testicles.  It's an homage to naked cyclists who are killed every day - by truck drivers wearing too much clothes.

So it's high times that we take action. And Saturday millions of cyclists made the kind of political statement that can bring world leaders to their knees - at least if we hand them a pair of binoculars.


***********************

Monday, June 8, 2009

It's Award Times: Winner of Best Booth at Book Expo America (Hey, It Was an Outrageous One, Too)


As the followers of this blog know, I visited Book Expo America last weekend.

It took place at the Jacob Javits Conference Center in New York - the kind of place that would be perfect if you brought your private jet and didn't know where to park it. Unfortunately, the Javits isn't an airport hangar, it's the home of North America's biggest book fair.

So how do you survive a room with thousands of booths, with literary blogger assassins, and neurotic novelists looking for people to harass - not to mention an Elvis impostor, a skinny girl in beige bikini, and two Scientologists trying to convince you that Ron L. Hubbard is God and Tom Cruise is the Holy Ghost.

Well, it ain't easy. But I survived, mainly because BEA09 (as we smart asses call it) is a lot of fun if you're schizophrenic. I also survived because I ran into some truly great people.

So ladies and gentlemen, it's awards time. I'm going to give a prize to the best booth at Book Expo America. And no, it ain't Simon & Schuster's, even though they had the kind of carpet my dog would love to take a dump in. It's not Penguin Books', either. Those booths were the kind of places you'd go if you felt like head butting your accountant.

No, the winner of The Danish Accent Award for Best and Most Outrageous Booth is: WINDY CITY PUBLISHERS, Chicago!!!!


Winner of Best Booth at BEA09, Windy Publishers. Oh, to drown in this sea of gorgeous women.


You've never heard of this fine publisher? Well, I hadn't, either. I've never even heard of Chicago, but this booth kicked serious ass if I may be so bold. I got acquainted with these gorgeous psychos Saturday afternoon. I was in a bad mood (which is rare for some one as shallow as me), but suddenly I was attacked by two beautiful women. They started off by passing out pens, golf balls, and garden gloves to get my attention. Then they got down to business, removing my clothes under the excuse that I should feel more "comfortable". More women joined in. Believe it or not, one of them was a mother of three. "I'm gonna scream if you stop," I shouted - it was certainly a full-service booth.

Seriously, I hung out there for half an hour, convincing all the women that they should buy The Tsar's Dwarf. To get rid of me they promised they would, but I don't even care if they lied. Windy Publishers made my day. You should buy their books. Or their book. They just started out, but they're going places if you ask me.


Runner up for Best Booth at BEA09: Yogananda, SRF publishers, and his soul mates.

Runner up: SRF Publishers
I always need a dose of spirituality. So would you if you watch Judge Judy. Luckily for me, SRF Publishers had a booth that was dominated by the face of Yogananda, the Indian guru who introduced the West to Kriya Yoga and samosas. I adore Paramahansa Yogananda. He might be my favorite Indian guru, since he never dabbled in small boys as opposed to a lot of his competitors. If you don't know this Indian master, you should get hold of SRF's books. The most famous is the gorgeous Autobiography of a Yogi, a must for any one who is into spirituality. SRF has also reprinted a lot of Yogananda's wonderfully uplifting speeches.

I had a lengthy talk with Frank Marquette, a man who radiated the kind of serenity you'd expect from a cocaine addict. But Frank Marquette was not high at all, he was the real deal and I enjoyed talking to him immensely. He seemed like a man who lived his spiritual values. I would definitely buy a used guru from that man.


Jenn Northington, King's English Bookshop and me at the BEA09 in New York. It's Jenn on the left.

Honourable Mention: Jenn Northington from King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City. Jenn Northington didn't have her own booth, she just had 8.244 meetings to go to. Still, she found time to introduce me to book sellers, event managers, and a Twitter party that took place in a night club where you couldn't hear a word any one said - the perfect venue for people who are forced to express themselves in 140 characters. Mrs. Northington was the one who told me that I should go to BEA, so I could meet the right people. Luckily for me, Jenn is a big fan of The Tsar's Dwarf and has sold an obscene amount of the book in the Mormon City. Dear God, let me meet more book sellers like her on my fall tour!

Yes, that's right. You should sign up for my fall tour, the third one I'll be going on. I'm loud, ridiculous, and known to stand on broken chairs. Nine states have survived me so far. If you want to be next, send an email to my publisher Kate Sage at Hawthorne Books, ksage@hawthornebooks.com or contact me (see upper left bar on this blog)

Support your small independent publishers. They do weird things like believing in Danish novelists of the tragicomic persuasion ...


Also read, Unpublished Writers, Please Don't Visit Book Expo America or You Just Might Get Shot at Dawn

***