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My Book is Not an Airplane Book

I was in the New Orleans Art Center and two people who bought my book said something like, “This is great. I have a flight coming up.” To which I said, “That’s great. It’s a good airplane book.”

Now that some time has passed, I don’t think it’s a good idea to tell people my new book is an airplane book. To me an airplane book is a book that demands nothing of you, particularly the demand to think about what you’re reading. Read Chapter 3 and then tell me that I’m wrong. I tell people it’s a fun book with a dark side. But it isn’t an airplane book. Or I hope it isn’t.

The title of the book is The Girl in the Silver Mask. I’m not comfortable with the title for the simple reason that there is no girl in the story. There are women, but no girls. So, I have my protagonist, Drake Ramsey, an author like me, only successful, unable to develop the plot of his new book because he’s fixated on coming up with title with the word “girl” in it. Drake says,

I don’t actually have a plot idea yet, because I can’t stop thinking about the title. I know. Little bit of horse-before-the-cart stuff, but have you noticed how many successful books out there have the word girl in the title? Years ago it was horse. Awhile back, it was wife. Now it’s girl. I think that Larsson fella got it started...

You see my problem. How can I figure out a plot, when I’m going crazy trying to think of a title with the word girl in it? It’s important. I’m sure you see my point. And how many first-time best-selling authors’ second books have flopped? A lot! Well, not mine. I’m covering my ass on this.

Drake then lists over fifty books with the word “girl” in the title. To be clear, I found the titles on Amazon and in bookstores. For a while every time I walked into a bookstore I carried a pad to jot down titles with the “girl” in them. I’m sure my fifty plus titles listed on page 4 of the paperback edition are just the tip of the where-have-all-of-the-feminist-gone iceberg. My editor wanted me to delete the whole lot saying no one would read them. Of course people won’t read them. The impact is visual. If I had found fifty more titles with the word “girl” in them, I would have included them as well.

I was walking past a bookstore on Decatur Street and through the large front window I saw a customer looking through a copy of The Girl in the Silver Mask. I almost stopped to watch, then thought Philip Roth would never do that. So, I moved on never knowing if she actually bought the book. It was an odd feeling, I think mostly because the odds of passing a bookstore that actually has a copy of The Girl in the Silver Mask on display at the very moment a customer is looking it over must be breathtakingly enormous. Still, if she actually did buy the book there is a good chance she will enjoy it. And I do hope she would enjoy the inside joke about the word “girl.”  

As I write this, there are three bookstores in New Orleans displaying my book. I should have taken photos of the books on the shelves to show you, to relieve you of the burden of having to trust me. But I figured that Chuck Palahniuk doesn’t walk into bookstores and take pictures of his books so I put my cell back in my pocket.

I had three humble “author events” while in New Orleans. The first was at the New Orleans Art Center, which you should definitely visit if you are in NOLA. The cover image of The Girl in the Silver Mask was designed by Alan Zakem of Tina and Herman, who own and run the Art Center, displayed some of Alan’s work and set up a table with my books. Alan talked about his art, me about my book. I sold some books, though admittedly not many.  

The second event was also at the Art Center and I filled the artist talking about their work spot. I found this interesting though we didn’t need police for crowd control. Still, I sold some books. I wonder if Roberto Bolaño every sold any of his books in an art gallery.

The third event was in the Treme Coffeehouse. The book opens in the Treme Coffeehouse with these words: “A few days before Halloween, I was sitting in the Treme Coffeehouse, counting my heartbeats.” It was a good idea to have a reading at the café. The Coffeehouse and I provided free coffee, cookies, and cake, as a bribe, and I did a short reading. Problem was, I was terrible! So embarrassing. I bet Cormac McCarthy never humiliated himself like that. Amazingly, I sold some books, and ate some cake. Once again, crowd control was not a problem.

Now that I’m back from New Orleans I’m waiting for The Girl in the Silver Mask to go viral. When it does, I’m going to give a bucket load of money to the New Orleans Art Center and the Treme Coffeehouse, anonymously of course. Given that I am not Roth, Bolaño, or McCarthy, Herman and Tina in the Center and Tracy in the Coffeehouse took a chance on me. Yes, they made a little money too, but I need to emphasize the world “little.”

So, if you want a fun book with a dark side, give The Girl in the Silver Mask a try. Your purchase could be the one to get the viral ball rolling, or more accurately, clicking. And I would suggest that you hold judgement on the whole airplane thing until you’re done with Chapter 3. I bet Milan Kundera never said that.

Copyright © 2017 Dale Rominger

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