Having a nice time in…

Having a nice time in Iowa City, which is a charming place, and not as big as I expected. Somehow I thought it was a major city, but while it was the capitol of Iowa once upon a time, that time was something like 200 years ago, and now Iowa City appears to be a sleepy little college town. Ryan was telling me that there are 30,000 students here during the school year, and about 60,000 full-time residents. It's hard to imagine a third of the population of your city disappearing every summer!

I spent a peaceful afternoon working in Sharmi's apartment, and then we had dinner at Atlas Grill with Ryan's family. The grilled shrimp over jambalaya is quite yummy, and the chips and salsa were noticeably spicy, which surprised me a little. I suppose I had unfounded assumptions about what people eat in Iowa. :-) Ryan's family is lovely, mellow and relaxed and sweet and sane; they actually remind me a bit of Kevin's family, which is kind of funny. Maybe all the Mohanraj girls are similar in temperament, and look for similar sorts of boys, who tend to come from similar sorts of families? It's a theory, anyway.

Ryan's mom actually read and loved my book, so clearly she's a very smart and perceptive person.

The reading went well enough, though the Q&A was a bit less enthusiastic than normal. Julie Englander, the interviewer, ended up asking a lot of questions; I think people were intimidated by the whole recorded-for-NPR and incidentally videotaped-for-student-tv thing. Still, fun, and about thirty people there in the end, so a good turnout.

Afterwards, Sharmi and Ryan and I went out to get drinks with Robin Hemley (my nonfiction teacher from Utah, now director of the Nonfiction writing program at Iowa) and two of his new students. We had a nice time at Martini's, where the cosmopolitans and kir royales are $2 each, as are all the beers, of which they have an extensive selection. I don't even want to tell you what cosmos cost in Chicago. Ryan's brother Chris joined us a little later, and we all had fun talking about writing and teaching and academic politics and how to construct tension in a scene and how Iowa City compares to other places and good books we like and holes in our reading that we plan to fill up sometime real soon now. :-)

Speaking of which, I'm ensconced this morning in a comfy green chair at the Java House cafe, with my chai and a tasty spinach-feta scone, and as soon as I finish this entry, I'm going to go back to reading The Moor's Last Sigh, which is taking me a little while to get into as is usual with Rushdie for me, but which is starting to grow on me. The DesiLit Chicago book group is discussing it this Sunday, so I have hopes of finishing it in time to join them. I'm not going to read all morning, though -- just until ten or so; then I have to try to do a last pass revision on "The Marrying Kind." I'm getting increasingly stressed messages from Megan at Melcher wondering when it'll be done.

I'm feeling better about my writing this morning than I have in a while, maybe in part because I just got a e-mail from someone who read my book, and said, "I don't know whether to describe it as heartbreakingly lovely or poignantly beautiful or discreetly informative..." Discreetly informative. That just makes me giggle. :-)

4 thoughts on “Having a nice time in…”

  1. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    I’m not sure — it isn’t national NPR, but regional. I think it’ll eventually be archived on the Prairie Lights website, but I also thought the CWLP NPR piece would be archived, and that doesn’t appear to be up. So just don’t know. Will post if they show.

  2. Just an intrusive aside. Because I have followed your wanderings, I got and read (just finished)The Hamilton Case. I don’t recall your mentioning it, but the book is first rate (I think) and a fascinating exploration of Sri Lankan history and the people involved. It is just my luck that you would hate de Kretser, but I hope not!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *