An Open Book – The Inprint Blog https://anopenbookblog.org a place for literary conversation Fri, 15 Feb 2019 22:33:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.9 Dispatch 10: Chris Cander and The Weight of a Piano go to New York City https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-10-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-go-to-new-york-city/ https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-10-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-go-to-new-york-city/#respond Fri, 15 Feb 2019 22:33:30 +0000 https://anopenbookblog.org/?p=2475 Continue reading ]]> Houston author Chris Cander’s “Dispatches from Book Tour,” a multi-week blog series of reflections and updates along her 17-city U.S. book tour for her new novel The Weight of a Piano (published by Knopf), continues with Dispatch 10 from New York City.

February 7, 2019

Not only because I dedicated the book to her, but because I love being with my daughter, Sasha, I invited her to join me in NYC for my event at the gorgeous McNally-Jackson Books. She originally said she couldn’t miss school that week, but on Monday, she called and said her schedule was light and she really wanted to be there. So on Wednesday, she flew up from Houston—by herself, clever girl!—and was able to be with us last night for a truly memorable event.

My agent, Jess, and editor, Gary, along with many other wonderful members of the teams at HSG Agency and Knopf were there, as well as some old friends and family who came from far and wide, and many, many others who’d read or heard about The Weight of a Piano. The store very nearly sold out of books, in part due to one reader who loved the talk so much he bought TEN copies to give away to friends.

Everyone adjourned to the home of my dear friends Louise and Charlie Marburg (please check out her collection The Truth About Me, which is amazing) for a party that lasted into the wee hours. I was so delighted that my friend, the author Christina Baker-Kline (who gave my book a beautiful blurb) was there, along with many other writers, artists, and all-around interesting people. I know I keep saying it, but this has been an incredible experience, and I’m so appreciative for all the love and support from my publisher and agency, all the booksellers and bookstores, and the many friends and readers who continue to spread the word about my beloved book.

Tomorrow I return to Houston, where I’ll have a few days off and then get to be with Valerie and friends at the amazing Blue Willow Bookshop on Wednesday, Feb. 13. I’d love to see you there.

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Dispatch 9: Chris Cander and The Weight of a Piano make it to Springfield, Mass https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-9-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-make-it-to-springfield-mass/ https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-9-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-make-it-to-springfield-mass/#respond Wed, 13 Feb 2019 01:07:18 +0000 https://anopenbookblog.org/?p=2466 Continue reading ]]>

Houston author Chris Cander’s “Dispatches from Book Tour,” a multi-week blog series of reflections and updates along her 17-city U.S. book tour for her new novel The Weight of a Piano (published by Knopf), continues with Dispatch 9 from Springfield, Massachusetts.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

I caught the train from Penn Station to Springfield, Mass for a relaxing, 3-hour ride. About the time we were to arrive, the train stopped. Nobody said anything, nobody moved. I assumed we were letting a southbound train pass, as we had a while earlier. My friend was at the station waiting for me, and sent a text asking if we were late. Finally, just as the train started moving again, I asked the conductor what was happening, and he said, “Springfield was twenty minutes ago! Why didn’t you get off?”

My face flushed. “I didn’t hear an announcement.”

“You’re just supposed to know!”

“I’m from Houston!” I told him. “Texans don’t do trains!”

He laughed and patted my shoulder. He called my friend so they could decide where she should pick me up, then moved me and my stuff close to the door and said he wouldn’t let me miss my stop this time. Now Greg and I are pals for life.

The event that night at Odyssey Bookshop was so great. The store, founded by current owner Joan Grenier’s father, is celebrating its 55th anniversary this year. I got there early to sign 200+ copies for their First Editions Club and finished in time to visit with some of the attendees, including my cousin Sheri and her friend who drove 90 minutes to be there, and the nephew of a woman in my mother’s book club in Industry, TX. Even with extra chairs, the room was packed, and the attendees asked many interesting and thoughtful questions. We went way over our allotted time, but it was so worth it. Afterward, Joan asked me to sign their infamous bathroom wall. I found a spot next to the mirror and sent this message out to all you beautiful readers.

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Dispatch 8: Chris Cander and The Weight of a Piano go to Washington D.C. https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-8-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-go-to-washington-d-c/ https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-8-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-go-to-washington-d-c/#respond Sat, 09 Feb 2019 00:08:25 +0000 https://anopenbookblog.org/?p=2460 Continue reading ]]> Houston author Chris Cander’s “Dispatches from Book Tour,” a multi-week blog series of reflections and updates along her 17-city U.S. book tour for her new novel The Weight of a Piano (published by Knopf), continues with Dispatch 8 from Washington D.C.. 

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Sunday morning, in Washington D.C., I rushed down to the hotel lobby to pick up copies of the New York Times and the Washington Post, both of which ran their wonderful reviews of The Weight of a Piano. The day could’ve ended happily right then, but it was just the beginning of what would be one of the best of the tour thus far.

My sister Sara, whose birthday is today, had joined me for the weekend, so naturally we had cupcakes for breakfast. The reading at Politics and Prose, which is one of the 6 stores to choose The Weight of a Piano for their Signed First Edition Club, was at 1 pm—early  enough to satisfy those who are both book lovers and football fans. My agent was there, as was my publicist, and a packed house of wonderful readers. I read from two sections of the book, including a scene in which Katya, the Soviet concert pianist, and her husband are discussing whether to emigrate to the U.S. After the reading, a little girl about 8 years old stood up at one of the microphones to ask the first question: “What kind of music would Katya play once she got to America?” I loved that question, and even more that she had the curiosity and confidence to ask it. Attendees aren’t always comfortable with the exposure of standing up from their seat and walking to a microphone to ask a question, but the others must have been inspired by her moxie because a lengthy and interesting Q&A session ensued.

Afterward, there was a party hosted by my agent’s amazing parents, Deborah Ashford, who’s long served as lead counsel on the PEN/Faulkner board, and Kevin Klose, who was president of both NPR and Radio Free Europe. Everyone was as kind as they were intelligent, and I loved meeting so many wonderful people. Deborah had a cake made with the image of the book’s cover, and put a candle in it so we could sing happy birthday to my sister.

Later, Kevin drove us to the U Street Corridor, where we dined at Le Diplomate, a charming rendition of a Rive Gauche bistro. After a lovely Bordeaux and several small plates, we were sleepy, but with all the memories of such an ideal day still fresh, only reluctantly did we return to the hotel and go to bed.

 

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Dispatch 7: Chris Cander and The Weight of a Piano go from Mississippi to Tennessee https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-7-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-go-from-mississippi-to-tennessee/ https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-7-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-go-from-mississippi-to-tennessee/#respond Wed, 06 Feb 2019 22:13:34 +0000 https://anopenbookblog.org/?p=2455 Continue reading ]]> Houston author Chris Cander’s “Dispatches from Book Tour,” a multi-week blog series of reflections and updates along her 17-city U.S. book tour for her new novel The Weight of a Piano (published by Knopf), continues with Dispatch 7 from Mississippi to Tennessee. 

Friday, February 1, 2019

My new friend and sales rep Jess Pearson and I made a pilgrimage to William Faulkner’s grave before starting our road trip from Oxford, Mississippi to Nashville via the peaceful, historical Natchez Trace Parkway. It was a long drive, so we stopped in Collinwood for a cup of coffee and some sugar-free fudge, and then at my editor Gary’s house in Franklin, where I got to see The Weight of a Piano lined up alphabetically next to Peter Carey and Raymond Carver and others on the wall of shelves containing all the books he’s ever edited. Swoon.

The reading at the legendary Parnassus Books was terrific, and impressively attended, especially for a Friday night in Nashville. I was thrilled to meet Karen Hayes, who along with Ann Patchett, owns the store. We and a couple of their terrific booksellers enjoyed a great conversation over dinner at a little place called Miel.

After several days of non-stop festivities, I thought I’d drop into a profound sleep, but here I am, awake at 1 AM, still thinking about all the old and new friends I’ve gotten to see, the bookstores and booksellers whose gracious hospitality and enthusiasm for the book are connecting it with so many readers, and the incredible opportunity to spend time talking about this book and these characters that I love so much. I’m not taking a second of any of this for granted.

 

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Houston author Chris Cander and The Weight of a Piano go to Oxford, Mississippi https://anopenbookblog.org/houston-author-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-go-to-oxford-mississippi/ https://anopenbookblog.org/houston-author-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-go-to-oxford-mississippi/#respond Tue, 05 Feb 2019 23:45:45 +0000 https://anopenbookblog.org/?p=2450 Continue reading ]]> Houston author Chris Cander’s “Dispatches from Book Tour,” a multi-week blog series of reflections and updates along her 17-city U.S. book tour for her new novel The Weight of a Piano (published by Knopf), continues with Dispatch 6 from Oxford, Mississippi. 

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Oxford, Mississippi is a true gem, “the cultural mecca of the South.” We stopped at the home of Richard and Lisa Howorth, owners of the renowned Square Books, where we’ll spend the night. I can already tell I want to be friends with them forever. (Gary and Richard and I were feeling the love for The Weight of a Piano in store’s Valentine’s Day-themed window display!) Over lunch at Proud Larry’s, I learned about Oxford’s literary history, including the fact that theirs is the only town square in the south with four bookstores.

After signing several hundred books for their Signed First Editions Book club—that makes a total of six stores who chose the novel for that honor—we went to Off-Square Books to record the The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour. It’s a weekly live radio show hosted by the fabulous Jim Dees and featuring author readings and musical performances. We’d arranged ahead of time to pair me with an amazing young pianist named Price Walden, who performed two pieces from the novel so beautifully the standing room only crowd was dazzled. Tonight’s episode will be broadcast on Mississippi Public Broadcasting on Saturday, February 2 at 7:00 PM.

We capped the evening with dinner and drinks at City Grocery, where the manager, Lenny Moon, slipped me their recipe for shrimp and grits. I’d love to share it with you, but I promised I’d keep it secret. When the tour is over, I’ll make a big batch for anyone who wants to try it!

 

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Dispatch 5: Houston author Chris Cander and The Weight of a Piano go to Jackson, Mississippi https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-5-houston-author-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-go-to-jackson-mississippi/ https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-5-houston-author-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-go-to-jackson-mississippi/#comments Thu, 31 Jan 2019 18:13:30 +0000 https://anopenbookblog.org/?p=2444 Continue reading ]]> Houston author Chris Cander’s “Dispatches from Book Tour,” a multi-week blog series of reflections and updates along her 17-city U.S. book tour for her new novel The Weight of a Piano (published by Knopf), continues with Dispatch 5 from Jackson, Mississippi. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

How apropos to take The Weight of a Piano to Mississippi, the “birthplace of America’s music”. It’s also home to one of the most gorgeous bookstores I’ve seen: Lemuria Books in Jackson, owned by John and Mel Evans. John invited me to peruse the special, locked room filled floor to ceiling with signed first editions by the likes of Eudora Welty and William Faulkner, and it felt like being in church. After signing 300+ books (gorgeously covered in mylar, which makes the gold foil on the cover shine even more) for their Signed First Editions Club, we headed down to their event space.

I’m so honored that my Knopf editor, Gary Fisketjon, has joined me for a portion of the book tour. Tonight, he joined me on stage and talked about how and why he acquired my novel, and we talked about the research and work that went into its creation. That he chose to publish The Weight of a Piano is still a marvel to me, but that he’s spending time with me on tour is something I’ll never forget.

After the event, we and some other old and new friends had dinner at John and Mel’s truly magnificent house in Ridgeland, and tried their son’s new line of spirits called Catshead. My head will probably hurt a bit in the morning, but I wouldn’t change a thing about this magnificent evening.

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Dispatch 4: Houston author Chris Cander and The Weight of a Piano go to Fairhope, Alabama https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-4-houston-author-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-go-to-fairhope-alabama/ https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-4-houston-author-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-go-to-fairhope-alabama/#respond Wed, 30 Jan 2019 21:47:39 +0000 https://anopenbookblog.org/?p=2436 Continue reading ]]> Houston author Chris Cander’s “Dispatches from Book Tour,” a multi-week blog series of reflections and updates along her 17-city U.S. book tour for her new novel The Weight of a Piano (published by Knopf), continues with Dispatch 4 from Fairhope, Alabama. 

Fellow writer and dear friend Caroline Leech panicked this morning when she found out I didn’t have what she thought was adequate outerwear to endure the Polar vortex that is bearing down on the US during this leg of the book tour. In full mama-mode, she quickly wrapped her own scarf around me and wished me and my friend Dina, who’s joining me for two days, luck as we headed off to IAH. The flight to Mobile, Alabama was easy and uneventful, as was the drive to the gorgeous little town of Fairhope, which sits on bluffs that overlook Mobile Bay.

We arrived in time to walk around the charming pedestrian-friendly shopping district filled with locally owned stores and eateries. We stopped in to R Bistro for a glass of wine, and made friends with the bartender, a well-read, gentle giant named Elmo. A true Southern gentleman, he even took an hour off his shift to attend my reading at Page & Palette.

Author Rick Bragg once wrote that “you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a serious-faced novelist [in Fairhope],” so naturally the local independent bookstore is seriously wonderful. The Page & Palette staff are dedicated and knowledgeable, and really know how to put on an event—in a back room with a bar. There was a full house relaxing in chairs and barstools. Based on their engagement and thoughtful questions, the readers in this town are just as serious as its writers.

When I was here four years ago on book tour for Whisper Hollow, Steph Crowe, the events manager, asked about my then-next project. She was an early and avid fan of The Weight of a Piano and one of the booksellers around the country who nominated the book for an Indie Next Pick, a distinction for which I’m very grateful.

I’m headed to Jackson, Mississippi today, and although the temperature continues to drop, I’ve got Caroline’s scarf and am ready to hit the road.

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Dispatch 3: Chris Cander and The Weight of a Piano go to Dallas https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-3-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-go-to-dallas/ https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-3-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-go-to-dallas/#respond Mon, 28 Jan 2019 21:24:50 +0000 https://anopenbookblog.org/?p=2430 Continue reading ]]> Last week AnOpenBookBlog kicked off a blog series by Houston author Chris Cander, “Dispatches from Book Tour,” a multi-week series of reflections and updates by Chris along her 17-city U.S. book tour for her new novel The Weight of a Piano published by Knopf. Here is Dispatch 3 from Dallas:

Thursday, January 24, 2019

One of the best things about being on book tour is reconnecting with old friends. I met Nancy Allen when we were in the same workshop at Sewanee Writers’ Conference in 2016, and when she found out I’d be in Dallas, she invited me to stay with her. Not only that, but I had dinner with members of her book club, who’ve been together for 46 years. 

At Interabang Books, expertly managed by Brian Weiskopf, Nancy gave me an impromptu introduction to the full house, in which she relayed that a certain Famous Author who led our workshop absolutely eviscerated the 20 or so pages of The Weight of a Piano I’d submitted—and suggested that any frustrated or disappointed writers in the audience should do what I did and just keep going.

The next morning, I got up early to talk books and represent Houston on Good Morning Texas, then headed home for the weekend before setting out again.

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Author Chris Cander takes her novel The Weight of a Piano to Austin https://anopenbookblog.org/author-chris-cander-takes-her-novel-the-weight-of-a-piano-to-austin/ https://anopenbookblog.org/author-chris-cander-takes-her-novel-the-weight-of-a-piano-to-austin/#respond Fri, 25 Jan 2019 21:37:49 +0000 https://anopenbookblog.org/?p=2424 Continue reading ]]> Yesterday AnOpenBookBlog kicked off a blog series by Houston author Chris Cander, “Dispatches from Book Tour,” a multi-week series of reflections and updates by Chris along her 17-city U.S. book tour for her new novel The Weight of a Piano published by Krnopf. Here is Dispatch 2 from Austin:

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

How have I only just discovered Vonlane?? Why drive yourself when you can nap on this luxury bus ride from Houston to Austin? I woke up, thinking I was still dreaming, to the news that the day after its release, The Weight of a Piano has already gone into its third printing.

The lovely booksellers Meike and Annie met me when I arrived at BookPeople, where a wonderful crowd of old and new friends had gathered. I was also delighted and surprised that my parents were there and two high school friends I haven’t seen in years. My friend and Writers League of Texas director, Becka Oliver, was there to interview me, and I also had some great questions from the audience. I had a lovely note from Aunt Josephine letting me know that she couldn’t be there, she’d picked up two copies of the book and couldn’t wait to start reading. I was pleased but slightly confused…I don’t actually have an Aunt Josephine.

I picked up a copy of Small Fry based on Annie’s recommendation, and will read it on tomorrow’s drive to Dallas.

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Houston author Chris Cander shares Dispatches from Book Tour https://anopenbookblog.org/houston-author-chris-cander-shares-dispatches-from-book-tour/ https://anopenbookblog.org/houston-author-chris-cander-shares-dispatches-from-book-tour/#respond Fri, 25 Jan 2019 00:17:39 +0000 https://anopenbookblog.org/?p=2415 Continue reading ]]> Last week, Inprint featured an interview with Houston author Chris Cander about her new novel The Weight of a Piano. Earlier this week, Chris kicked off the U.S. book tour for her new novel right here in Houston to full house audience. How exciting to see one of our very own local Houstonians kick off a nationwide tour with such success!

Chris has kindly agreed to take us on the road with her. Over the next five weeks, Chris will be sharing reflections and updates from across the country as she releases The Weight of a Piano with the world. “Dispatches from Book Tour,” a blog series by Chris Cander begins here. We hope you enjoy Dispatch 1.

Hello, readers! My third novel, The Weight of a Piano, was released by Knopf this Tuesday, and the launch event that night was the kick-off to a 17-stop tour. I hope you’ll (virtually) join me via these brief Dispatches from Book Tour.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

It’s publication day! Instead of a traditional reading, I wrote a brief play based on several scenes from The Weight of a Piano and engaged an incredibly talented team of local artists to bring it to life. Konner Scott, the composer who wrote “Die Reise”—the original piece that appears at the end of the novel—performed it and other music from the book. Afterward, my dear friend and fellow author Mark Haber from Brazos Bookstore and I had a lively onstage conversation about the story. I was honored to have so many people (more than 350!) there to share the night with me—including my agent who flew in from NYC to surprise me.

So much work by so many people went into this event, and it turned out exactly as I’d imagined and hoped it would. I was so elated afterward that I could hardly sleep that night.

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