This morning I am heading home from Seattle, having completed my book tour mission, which I chose to accept.  All the people who met me at the various readings and interviews had no idea that they were seeing a slightly unclean version of me, since my little black reading jacket held up remarkably well and gave the illusion of cleanness all the way from Atlanta to Washington State.  But truly, a writer on, say, day three of her book tour is just a few steps up from someone who lives in her car.  I decided to go for the rumpled but brainy look, figuring that if it works for Cynthia Ozick, it can work for me too.

This black reading jacket is indestructible, absorbing Pinot Noir stains (reception in Portland after reading at Powell’s) and ink stains (someone’s leaky pen after a reading in California) alike, and serving as a kind of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat garment (you see that I take every opportunity to put in a reference to Donny Osmond, the inexplicable crush of my formative years) for me as a writer.  When I wear it, I feel strangely calm.  Regardless of the crowd size, be it big or small, I am happy to read to them from my novel.  Honestly, one night I decided to switch things around and wear something sort of nubby and beige; I made it as far as the hotel elevators when I suddenly freaked, turned around, ran back to the hotel room, and changed into the black reading jacket.  Things went well.

I have no faith in, or interest in, the talismanic.  But I do think that the black reading jacket is to the writer (or at least this writer) what the little black dress is to any character on “Sex and the City.”  When I wear it I am protected from the fact that, as people sometimes say, Americans don’t read fiction as much as they used to.  When I wear it I feel that they do.  When I wear it I am certain that fiction rules.  In this jacket I live in a kind of Fictionlandia, where everyone either wears their own black reading jacket, or holds a ragged copy of a beloved novel, and goes running after their favorite writer to have her sign it, even with a leaky pen.

Okay, home now.

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