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London Is the Best City…In Kentucky

Okay, so I was eating Chinese food last night (a weird choice in New Mexico, I'll grant you), and when I finished my Kung Pao Shrimp, I opened up my fortune cookie to find this message waiting for me:

Never hesitate to ask a lesser person.
— Confucius

I proceeded to spend too much time thinking about this, because:

1. I am too willing to take my fortune cookies seriously (even when, like this time, they are nothing approaching a fortune).

2. I ask far too many nosy questions, even to people I don't even know. e.g.: I recently approached an older woman at a airport bar, after I watched her throw her wedding ring into her fruit salad: "What did he do?" (Which pales in comparison to the question I really wanted to ask: "Um…do you think fruit salad at an airport bar is really a wise choice?").

And, mostly, because — since my novel came out last month — I have been asked a lot of questions, many that I've found compelling, and many that have surprised me.

None more so than the following: "Does your novel take place in London, Kentucky? I really love it there!"

Now, of course, I suspected that people might wonder if my novel takes place in London, England (it doesn't) — but I was completely ill prepared for the number of people wondering about whether I had made my setting the grassy knolls of London, Kentucky (pop. 5,692).

And, more vitally, how many people have visited the grassy knolls of London, Kentucky (pop. 5,692), causing them to ask the question in the first place?

How many? A lot. I'm not kidding.

And, a lot of them have a story about how London, Kentucky, has changed their lives, made them happy, made them want to stay.

Which is why I begin today's blog with a shout-out to the good people of London, Kentucky. As soon as I can, I'm coming to find you.

*As a side note: in real life, my first novel takes place in my hometown — a suburb of New York City. The title makes sense once you've read the book.

Or, maybe this isn't a side note.

Because I’ve been thinking about reading recently. Specifically: The unique, bizarre ways that those of us who love reading — who hold books as precious as, say, Kevin Federline holds the penny — take it on.

As an example, how do you decide what you are going to read next?

On this end, I do the same thing each time. I open the book and read the first sentence. And then I turn to the last page, and I read the last one.

Friends have pointed out this isn't un-similar to Harry in When Harry Met Sally.

If I'm not mistaken, he reads the last sentence because he is worried he will be dead before he finishes the book.

For me, that is a secondary concern.

I am not reading the last sentence to discover the final action, but — rather — the final feeling. If this counts as cheating, so be it!

As I start the prickly work of working on Novs 2 (this is its official title, by the way), I have been reading a lot. Anything and everything — and, quite frankly, weird things that I am surprised I am drawn to.

This week, it has been a fantastic book called The Journalist and The Murderer.

It's about a murderer who sues the journalist who wrote the book about his trial.

Now, I don't have a murderer in Novs 2, or a true-crime reporter, for that matter. So how this is helping me, I'm not sure.

But it is fantastic.

I will spend today finishing it, as I (gulp) brave the two long plane rides (and one three-hour-layover) that will slowly wind me back to New York City.

See: I normally like flying (or, at least, I certainly don't mind it) but earlier this week, my friend Daniel said, "Give me ten minutes, and I bet I can scare the beejezus out of you about flying."

To which I said, "I bet you cannot."

Ten minutes later, I was wrong.

Reading will carry me through. But any books suggestions before I am airborne are welcome. (We have until 2:00 CST.)

Also, of great help will be my favorite songwriter, who — actually, beautifully — is a Portlander.

Mr. M. Ward.

According to my iTunes count, I've listened to "Carolina" 401 times.

This month.

Has a more perfect song ever been written?

I leave you with some of his lyrics and a promise to write tomorrow from my favorite coffee shop in New York City, where I work every weekday morning on Novs 2. It looks like a cave and the chairs are break-your-butt hard and they serve (without irony) $3.90 un-moist cupcakes.

You'll love it.

Oh a playful little kitten met a playful little bird,
and then off with its head, off with its head, oh my!
— M. Ward, "Outta My Head"

÷ ÷ ÷

Laura Dave is a novelist and journalist. In addition to writing for such diverse publications as the New York Times and ESPN Magazine, she is the author of the acclaimed novels London Is the Best City in America and The Divorce Party. Her third novel is The First Husband.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. The Divorce Party Used Trade Paper $2.95
  2. The First Husband Used Hardcover $4.95

  3. The Journalist and the Murderer New Trade Paper $15.00

Laura Dave is the author of The Divorce Party

6 Responses to "London Is the Best City…In Kentucky"

    Brockman July 11th, 2006 at 10:20 am

    I'm dying to know how the rest of that conversation with the wedding ring woman went! What DID he do??

    Venkman July 11th, 2006 at 10:28 am

    Oh Brockman, you silly old fool -- hang the wedding ring! I want to know what that "friend" said in ten minutes to scare the beejezus out of her about flying.

    Amanda July 12th, 2006 at 7:04 am

    Yay, Laura! Glad to hear you rocked the west coast. see you soon, AET

    Cuz July 12th, 2006 at 2:47 pm

    I love M. Ward too! Fancy that. I pick a book by how hot the author pic is and Laura Dave is one hot tamale. Am I allowed to post that on-line?

    Jamie July 14th, 2006 at 4:47 pm

    I feel like you have to read the whole book sometimes to really feel the final feeling (you get when reading the last page of a story).

    Lalit January 16th, 2011 at 4:56 am

    Actually I was searching for custom fortune cookies when I reached this blog. It is excellent blog and I will definitely visit your blog again. Thanks

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