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, February 22, 2011

Another Stampede at My Book Presentation at UCLA? (Not Exactly, But At Least I Was Dry Humped By A Squirrel)

I just did my second presentation of The Tsar's Dwarf at UCLA. I was there a year ago as well, and now I was called back to inflict some more pain on the students.

If you haven't heard of UCLA, you're probably dead. Or worse, you're not American. UCLA is an unbelievably prestigious university that's lying in the heart of L.A. next to this place called Hollywood. You may have heard of Hollywood. That's the town where O.J. Simpson kills his wives and Leonardo di Caprio gets laid.

Well, I was invited to speak in two classes - a Hans Christian Andersen course and a Søren Kierkegaard philosophy class. I would lie if I said I was humbled by the experience, because I have an advantage when it comes to those two Great Danes: I'm alive and they're not. So I promoted myself shamelessly, talking about the existentialism in my writing. The fact that I've never read Kierkegaard didn't stop me.  I'm not an academic, I'm allowed to be as ignorant as George Bush.

When you walk around UCLA's gorgeous campus, you discover that even the buildings are celebrities. I pass Ronald Reagan Medical Center, Herb Albert's School of Music, and Cher's Institute for Plastic Surgery.

When I was here a year ago as part of My Pretentious World Tour, I dreamed that a lot of celebrities would show up for my reading. I pictured Charlie Sheen dropping by, trashing Royce Hall because I wouldn't give him my autograph. Or Mel Gibson going into one of his famous rants against all the Jews working in the canteen.

This time I've stopped dreaming. I'm more than happy talking to eighty students. They're absolutely wonderful and adorable. A few of them even send me emails afterward thanking me for coming.

Yes, I love UCLA. I could get addicted to the sunshine, the palm trees, and the sophomores drooling over iPads. It seems as if UCLA loves me back because when I enjoy a sandwich outside, I'm dry humped by a squirrel. How much more can a small Scandinavian author ask for?

Since UCLA is so close to Hollywood, I can't help dreaming of The Tsar's Dwarf being turned into a movie.  It would be very cheap to produce, only half of Avatar's budget. All you need is a set with 18th century Saint Petersburg and Copenhagen, a cake the size of a church, a convent with monks and evil priests, a rarity cabinet with seven feet giants and Eskimos, a few vomit basins, twenty sledges pulled by Siberian tigers, an actor who looks like Peter the Great (any white basketball player will do), and a cast of 64 dwarfs waiting to get married in a ballroom with miniature canons.

Honestly, Danish novels should become the new Hollywood addiction. So if any of you fat cats from MGM, Sony, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Miramax, and Fox Searchlight are reading this, you're more than welcome to start with mine. And now you're at it, would you mind putting me up in one of those fancy villas at Venice Beach? That place feels like a film set, anyway.