Seems like yesterday I was planning for BEA and that was in May. Time flies ...particularly now that I can't seem to remember a damn thing unless I write it down. My date planner looks like I've got the social life of Mrs. Astor, but if you look carefully it's not "party at noon" it's "yes you mailed the rent check today, don't mail another one."
August is an odd time here in NY. It's quieter; a lot of people leave town this month, and even the tourists seem to stay in their air conditioned busses and bequeath the steamy sidewalks to those of us traipsing into work clutching ice coffees and squinting behind our Raybans.
Walking home is the best part of going to work these days, and not just for the "going home part". Summer evenings in NYC are a little slice of heaven ... if you like your heaven lightly marinated in eau de decay. And I do. I love everything about New York, every single thing. I love the rats less than I love the traffic, and I don't love either of those anywhere near as much as I love the Chrysler Building, but how I feel about New York is a default setting of "love love love."
When I walk home in the evenings I usually end up walking down Lexington Avenue, my favorite ave in the city. From the office at 35th and Seventh Ave east to Lex it's about half a mile, then south to 14th is a mile. I stroll. No power walking, elbow flailing race walking for me. I just stroll.
Tonight though I walked down Broadway instead of Lex because I had to stop at Barnes and Noble for a copy of The House of Mirth. Don't tell anyone I've never read any Edith Wharton, ok? Never even seen any of the movies either. But a very fine writer sent me a novel that is a variation on House of Mirth and I knew I'd better read it if I wanted to get the jokes. So in I went. And the place was crowded. People sitting and reading. People choosing books, people buying books. Four floors of them. It's August in New York and this place is jumping.
I went in for The House of Mirth. I came out with that plus Severance Package by Duane Swierczynski. I mean really, could YOU resist this first line: His name was Paul Lewis and he didn't know he had seven minutes to live.
Well, I've been a huge fan of Duane Swierzzynki's since The Wheelman. He's on Twitter too, and tweeted about a movie called In Bruges with Colin Farrell, and when I got it from NetFlix I loved it too. So of course I wanted to read this new one.
Then I read the back cover: Jamie Debroux's boss has called a special meeting for all "key personnel" at 9:00 am on a hot Saturday in August. When Jamie arrives, the conference room is stocked with cookies and champagne. His boss smiles and tells his employees, "We're a cover for a branch of the intelligence community. And we're being shut down." Jaime's boss then tells everyone to drink some champagne, and in a few seconds they'll asleep -- for good. If they refuse, they'll be shot in the head. Escape is not an option. Jamie's boss has shut down the elevator and rigged the fire towers with chemical bombs. Panic sets in, chaos erupts, and no one is sure whom to trust. Jamie quickly realizes that there's only one way he's ever going to see his family again: the hard way.
I challenge you to read that and not want to buy the book. I certainly couldn't. I managed to escape further damage to my already thin wallet by closing my eyes as I walked past the new releases in mystery fiction, chanting "no no must pay rent." Then I slithered over to the subway. New York in all her August subtle charm was forgotten. I had a hot book to read and all I wanted to do was get home and dive in.
Twenty pages into it I remembered I was supposed to be writing this blog post for tomorrow. Oops. Time to start writing THAT on the calendar now too I guess!
One thing I'll never have to write down to remember: read Duane Swierczynski novels!