Understanding Life & Love While Trying to Promote Your Debut Novel

Erin Kodicek on October 11, 2018
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reed.JPGElliot Reed's A Key to Treehouse Living is a moving and wonderfully odd debut about a young man who tries to make sense of his lonely existence with an ledger that imparts accidental wit and wisdom. If you enjoyed Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, this novel has the same feel/s.

Here, Reed channels his main character in a charming glossary-style essay about balancing the challenges of a book tour, and (newly) married life.


SUNK IN: Your eyes, when you look at a photo of yourself, taken by someone at an event. Also the term which refers to understanding a fact at a deeper level, and letting that understanding affect your behavior. Has it sunk in yet that you’ve published a book? This question, for example, is difficult to answer. How should a novelist behave? Should they give advice? Why? Or: Has it sunk in yet that you are married? Again, hard to answer. Easier to answer: are you used to wearing a ring yet? No. I am still fiddling with it.

REAM: A stack of paper, the act of hollowing out, or the method by which citrus juice is extracted from its fruit—all of these are important uses of the term REAM. If you are travelling across the country by airplane and antique van, and you are travelling because you have been scheduled to talk about your first novel at bookstores in, for example, Chicago and Portland, then you often feel as if your mind has been utterly depleted. You will feel a vague, unplaceable sickness and sense of dread. Someone once said that this feeling of sleep deprivation, of total cognitive desiccation, is comparable to what it might feel like to be a stack of white printer paper with nothing written on it. The other kind of reaming—a usage that must carry the preposition out—is what would happen if you were to say something horrible and unforgiveable and completely out of character in front of one of these bookstore crowds (see also L’Apelle du Vide). You would be rightfully crucified and your publisher would delete all memory of your book and recall every single copy of it. The internet would fill with negative references to your name. This is the second type of REAM. You would say, “I got reamed out.” Finally, once your bookstore event has actually gone well—largely thanks to the people who love and care about you and your work—you will want to find a citrus fruit, a reamer, and your alcohol of choice. Slice the fruit in half, then use the citrus “reamer” to eviscerate the fruit, collecting its juice in the glass into which the alcohol of choice has been placed.

REDWOODS: World’s tallest trees, and a term informally used to refer to a timeless book. If one of the bookstores you choose to visit is City Lights Books in San Francisco, and you are on your honeymoon and your wife has never seen the redwoods, go to the bookstore, allow your wife to disappear into the depths of the enormous bookstore, and try to find your novel among the redwoods. You will find it there, looking as small as it is in comparison to the old growth around it. Perhaps it will become taller. Understand that a redwood is technically a redwood no matter how tall, and feel a sense of profound comfort emerge from the initially terrifying understanding that many good books have come into the world at the exact same moment as yours. Find your wife and go find the groves that exist on Hwy 1. Pass the sun-bleached paperbacks outside a movie theater in Chinatown on your way out of town.

SUN-BLEACHED PAPERBACK: Even a redwood can become a sun-bleached paperback with its cover curled up by fog and wind sitting with others like it on a folding table outside a movie theater in Chinatown, each priced at a dollar.


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