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Books on Monday: Ten Days in the Hills

I remain puzzled by the dust jacket that adorns Jane Smiley's new novel, Ten Days in the Hills. It suggests that the book is more focused on watching movies than on making them. And there is no couple that corresponds to the young kissers. (There's no young white woman at all, and the only young woman is in a semi-sibling rivalry with the only young man; she probably would never let him make love to her under any circumstances.) So I continue to look for a solution. I could have asked Ms Smiley about the dust jacket the other night, when, for the second time in my life, I lined up for her to sign a new book. But I make it a policy not to query or quibble with writers at signings.

The reading-and-signing took place at 192 Books, a small but neat bookshop that is very, very far from home. To wit, it's at 192 Tenth Avenue. Tenth Avenue is not really on my map, or wasn't until recently. You can almost see the Hudson River - from street level. The quickest way to get there from here is to change trains at 51st Street, and take the E to 23rd Street. I chose to come and go by the L connection, walking all the way from Eighth Avenue and Fourteenth Street. It wasn't too bitterly cold.

Ms NOLA told me about the event a day or so before, but happily I had the foresight to investigate on line, because reservations are necessary. A gentleman stood at the door and checked names off a list.

I was very sorry about the pathetic size of my acquaintance afterward. I knew only two people who lived anywhere nearby, and they were so unlikely to be free that I didn't bother them. I retraced my steps, and dined alone at the Japanese pub across the street. From home, that is.

Ms Smiley entertained questions (mine was the first taken). Someone wanted to know how fame and fortune had changed her life. Her laconic answer: "I own more horses than I ever thought I would."

Read about Ten Days in the Hills at Portico.


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