Yet another Eric Stone Drive-By Book Tour is getting underway. I've been warming up with events on home ground and am headed for New York tomorrow.

My last book tour, the Disoriented Express with Colin Cotterill, we added up the estimated weight of our assembled crowds. I don't think I'll bother with that this time. For one, I don't have Colin along to help me with the estimates. And unless something truly untoward or special occurs along the way, I'm not sure I want to spend a whole lot of time describing book events. (Although I might post the occasional picture.)


(There really were more than four people at last night's event at The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood Village (in Los Angeles.) There were, maybe, 40 or so. But bookstores are tough places to take pictures. This is me telling the assembled multitudes about prahoc - a Cambodian fish paste that is sort of like the stinkiest, most overripe French cheese you could possibly imagine - only it's FISH. Ray Sharp eats some in GRAVE IMPORTS.)

Suffice to say, I enjoy book events. It's a mighty fine job; showing up at a bookstore to talk about books you've written and about yourself and sometimes about writing in general or other books. I'd even do that if it wasn't my job. I'm strange enough that I even love doing it when no one shows up for a book event. I'm plenty happy just sitting around and chewing the fat with bookstore people. (My first job was in a bookstore. I've loved the places ever since.) Still, I love it even better when a lot of people do show up for my book events. So if you're reading this, take a look at the events schedule and show up when I'm nearby.

Here's what you'll get: Cambodian pop music by Ros Sereysothea (truly fantastic, late '60s / early '70s pop psychedelia.) A slide show of great (if I do say so myself, since I took them) photos of Cambodia - you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll ooh and aah. Me talking about GRAVE IMPORTS, my latest book, and maybe some about FLIGHT OF THE HORNBILL, my next book, and about myself. Maybe - I'll take a vote - I'll read something from one of my books (no more than five minutes though, I promise.) And you can ask me questions. And I will sign any books you buy - well, at least the ones by me. (A note about that: I have only once, in Anchorage, been asked by a bookstore for ID when I showed up and offered to sign books for them. I usually feel obligated to point out the jacket photo and hold it up to my face, but I suppose anyone could show up nearly anywhere and sign any book they want.) I don't recommend it, though.

Today I'm at Metropolis Books in downtown Los Angeles. It's a brave little bookstore, founded by a fellow writer, in an area that is just beginning to develop. Anyone, anywhere in the vicinity, should support the place. Independent bookstores need us.

Speaking of which - Eso Won Books is one of Los Angeles' great treasures. It is a store that specializes in African-American books and has been a vital part of the Black community around these parts for a number of years. It's in trouble. It might have to close down by the end of the year unless things significantly change. When Bill Clinton came to L.A. to sign his memoir, it's where he went. Eso Won is at 4331 Degnan Blvd. (Just off Crenshaw in Leimert Park, Los Angeles.) Do yourself a favor, do Los Angeles a favor - go there, soon, buy books, buy a bunch of books. It's a great store. It would be a tragedy to lose it.

You can also buy from them online at http://esowon.booksense.com

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