Thursday, August 12, 2010

In Which I Share Some Eavesdroplings, and the Best Endorsement Evah!

by Bill

Strictly speaking, this isn't a review. It probably falls more in the blurb category. Also, it comes from someone who didn't read the actual book (which doesn't disqualify it from the blurb category, now that I think about it).

One day while I was working on Chasing Smoke, which feels like it was one million years ago now—Wow. It just hit me I'm working on my fifth book now. Chasing Smoke was over two books ago. Just, wow.

Anyway, this particular day in the coffee shop, a woman sat in the chair next to me and jabbered on the phone for about an hour. I admit I was listening to her more than I was writing, because she was saying things like:

"I realize we haven't met yet or anything, so I won't hold you to your answer, but would you ever consider reversing your vasectomy?"

And, "I just want to see your picture. . . . No, I don't care if you're dressed or not. Either way." Pause to listen. "That big? Sweet."

These little eavesdroplings were pure gold, so naturally I was typing a transcript of her half of the conversation rather than getting much actual work done.

So she's talking and talking and I'm typing and typing, and when she hangs up she notices me looking at her. I expect to take some serious crap for listening in on her phone call, but instead she gets all bright-eyed and says, "Hey, you sure do type a lot! Whatcha doing?"

I immediately close the transcript document in case she decides to lunge into my chair to read what I'm working on. She doesn't. (This is a good thing.)

I explain I am writing a novel, and she says she wants to read it. I'm not too clear on whether she understood I wouldn't be able to let her read it until it was done and the novel was in actual book form, but fortunately I had a copy of Lost Dog in my bag. When I showed it to her, I think she somehow got the idea the book I was writing was the book she held in her hands. But whatever.

After a thorough inspection she turned to me and offered the Best Blurb Evah!

"This looks like a great book for my fiancé to read while he's in jail."

Oh. My. Gawd. Yes.

I see no need to explore such questions as: was her fiancé the person she was talking to on the cell phone? And if so, why did she need to see a picture, clothed or otherwise? And what was that big? And why hasn't she met her fiancé yet? If it wasn't her fiancé, does her fiancé know she's talking to men she hasn't met and discussing the reversal of their vascectomies with them, and, well ... Yeah.

Because: "This looks like a great book for my fiancé to read while he's in jail."

While this delightful bon mot isn't a review, it is my Go To Endorsement whenever some anonymous Publishers Weekly reviewer flicks shit my way. ("'Contrived' you say? 'Detestable?' Maybe you should have read it while you were in jail!')



Lois Winston said...

Bill, I'm teaching an on-line workshop this month called Help! I've Lost My Muse! Yesterday's lesson was all about eavesdropping on strangers' conversations. I just told my students to come over to the blog and read what you posted today.

Bill Cameron said...

Cool, Lois! I look forward to their visit!

Elisabeth Black said...

Wow. It doesn't get much better than that.

I'm getting bad about listening to people's conversations in coffeeshops. But you know what? I notice other people - people who do not look to be writers and therefore have no business being nosy - doing it too. Naturally, I watch them also.

Sophie Littlefield said...

bill, i am headed straightaway for the coffee shop....and I am going to sit there until something interesting happens to me no matter how long it takes!! For some reason stuff like that never happens when i am typing away. i guess we just need more interesting clientele...

Shane Gericke said...

Dang, Bill, this IS the Best Blurb Ever. Perhaps he was talking about how big his, uh, bar of soap was.

You get the best eavelets. The stuff I hear in my happy hometown are pretty boring.

Shane Gericke said...

Usually bitching about the kids, or the husband, or both.

Bill Cameron said...

Oh, I get plenty of bitching about the kids and job too, Shane. But when the gems arise, they are truly precious!

Sophie, I have hope for you. Be strong!

Beth, I suspect there is a little eaveslooter in all of us.

Joshua Corin said...

Bill...that really is the Best Blurb Evah. It almost qualifies as its own little Flash Fiction.

Meredith Cole said...

How funny! Did you sign a book for her on the spot?

Most of the cell phone calls I overhear are not as thrilling either, they say things like "I'm on the train..." or "Do we need milk" or "Mmm. Yeah. I know. Yeah..." (of course at the top of their voice). Can I come hang out at your coffee shop sometime?

Bill Cameron said...

Meredith, I do confess that the coffee shop in question was in a particularly interesting part of town. As it happened, I didn't sign the book. She gave it back to me and then walked off without even saying goodbye. Oh well!

Josh, good call on the flash fiction! That strange woman on her cell phone is a secret genius.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

That was absolutely brilliant, Bill! Let them read jail!

I usually get boring eavesdrops, but once this woman started out talking about brownies for the bake sale and then suddenly segued into "So of course we had to hire the exorcist from Haiti." She then went on to describe an attempted exorcism of a malignant ghost from the back of the church (by the organ, of course). I was riveted.

I still see her around town and, well, worry.

Kelli Stanley said...

Pure poetry, Bill-Bill!!! :) Let's hear it overhearing!!!

And gee--this is not only an incentive to hang out in coffee shops, but to hang out in coffee shops in PORTLAND.

Y'think the Chamber of Commerce might be interested? You know, they could kind of riff, like "great place to visit while your fiance is in jail". ;)


Terry Stonecrop said...

Haha! I can't imagine her commenting on how big he was. Totally mad but funny as hell!

You get the Best Eavesdropper award:)

Bill Cameron said...

I've had great fortune in the eavesdropping department. Here are two more coffee shop gems. In each case, I got to hear both sides of the conversation.

"I'm kinda like that weird kid in that movie. I see the spirits of people and animals."
"Yeah, like dead dogs and shit. I mean, when I see them they're walking around, but they're all misty like."
"No kidding?"
"Yeah. My neighbor's cat hung around for like a year after she had it put to sleep."


"You look like you taste salty."
"What, I look sweaty?"
"No, just salty and delicious. I want to lick you."
"Oh. Well, that's all right then."

Gabi said...

I can only aspire to being good enough for the jailhouse library.

I did notice that she didn't ask you, sitting next to her, to reverse a vasectomy and send her pictures au naturale. Or did she? Have you only told half the story? Give!