Soon I will be leaving my beloved West Coast and taking this show to New York. A friend of mine in San Francisco, taking a page from Bob Dylan's history, calls my travels The Rolling Blunder Review. I like that.
This book I'm touring with has taken me 26 years (it's the second half of a project that originally took 20 years). Much of my adult life has been spent wrestling with this material and now it's done.
I feel like I'm graduating from the longest high school experience in history. I guess that makes this book tour my commencement ceremony. Heck, with the multitudes of old high school chums and former girlfriends I have seen so far, all that seems lacking is a rented gown and mortarboard.
These 26 years have taken me from a humorous, yet angry young man consumed by class rage to suburban dad and burgeoning elder who tries to comfort angry young writers consumed by class rage.
I know how lucky I am to go out and talk about my books. In a previous blog, I mentioned how lucky I am to stay in these hotels where I might have been scrubbing toilets in my earlier life. And, yes, it's great to sell books. It's great to sign autographs, it's great to meet heroes (I once found myself in a hotel lobby with Pink Floyd!). But the real wonder of this is more simple than all of that. Over and over again, I am surprised, touched, and amazed to have a moment to simply speak to you.
I can't believe you're there. I can't believe you and I are friends. I can't believe we were brought together by something as tenuous and tender as words. Yet, the right words between strangers seem stronger than steel cables.
I'm thankful for my readers. I'm thankful for my audience. You all have no idea how much you have meant to me and to my family. And the only way I know how to thank you — aside from kissing everybody in the bookstore — is to try to write you the best stories in the world. I may fail. But I'm always trying. It's kind of like baking you a basket of Christmas cookies.
So, go ahead and have a couple. They are calorie-free. I made them with love. Thank you.
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Luis Alberto Urrea is the recipient of a Lannan Literary Award, an American Book Award, a Western States Book Award, and a Colorado Book Award, and has been inducted into the Latino Literary Hall of Fame. He lives in Chicago.
Books mentioned in this post
Luis Alberto Urrea is the author of Queen of America