A Partial List of Things People Gave Me on Tour

I’m writing this on a plane from Seattle to Atlanta, whither I am traveling in order to read, sign and blather at the Barnes & Noble in Buckhead on Monday night at 7:00.

The reason I was in Seattle was PAX, the Penny Arcade convention, where I ran a couple of panels. If you’ve never been, PAX is kind of a special thing. It’s a convention for gamers, but it’s more than that too — there’s a real feeling of community at PAX, which you wouldn’t think would be possible with 40,000 strangers in airless corporate convention center, but there it is. It all flows from Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, the two guys who make Penny Arcade. They are very smart and very not-into-bullshit, and you can be pretty sure that whoever you meet at PAX is going to be like that too. Mike and Jerry are real culture heroes, and you look around at PAX think, yeah, we’re all in Mike and Jerry’s culture.

One of these lives at my house now

One of the panels I did was on being a gamer and a parent – when I was a kid I used games to get away from my parents, but now that I’m a parent video games are part of the culture that I want to pass on to my kids, which is an interesting shift. About 150 people showed up, and I was initially unnerved when no other panelists did, but my friend Evan Narcisse fearlessly joined me on stage, and there was a lot of audience participation, and the whole thing came off very well.

Then on Saturday night I moderated a panel on books and games – what do gamers read, what do books do that games can’t and vice versa, what makes great writing in a game, and why so few novels do games well (Snow Crash and Ender’s Game were at the top of the list, but it wasn’t a long list). Basically I think the emotions that games stir up are a lot more complex than most novelists realize, and it turns out they’re really tough to describe, which is why so few writers get it right. The transmedia theory rapidly became very thorny indeed; I did my best to keep up. I didn’t want to do the panel at all unless Marc Laidlaw – a novelist who also wrote Half-Life 2, one of the most wildly atmospheric games I’ve ever played – could come out for it. He did. It was one of those panels where the audience jumped in, and the staff basically had to kick us out of the room to get us to stop talking.

I will close with a partial list of things people have given me since I’ve been on tour. You’re kind of like the tiny prince in Katamari Damacy on tours like this – by the end you’re rolling along a ball of stuff bigger than you are.

1. A fox costume. [Well, fox ears, and a surprisingly substantial fox tail. If they were white – i.e. belonging to an arctic fox – this would have been a mildly tasteless allusion to the infamous fox-sex scene in The Magicians. As it is they are reddish in color, which makes them a hugely tasteless allusion to the total-fox-horror scene in The Magician King. But I'm not saying I didn't put them on. (There was a bear suit too. I didn't put that on.)]

2. Four books. [One of them was not only by Terry Brooks, Terry Brooks himself handed it to me. With his own hand.]

3. Two novel manuscripts. [These were from close friends—I can’t take manuscripts from people I don’t know, because they're such a big commitment.]

4. One dwagon [yellow]

5. One magnificent 10-foot knitted scarf in Brakebills colors

6. Three home-confected Brakebills (and one Brakebills South) t-shirts

7. A magic-button Neitherlands keychain

8. One tiara with ominous, reliquary-like tiara box

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24 Responses to “A Partial List of Things People Gave Me on Tour”

  1. Jaimie says:

    Come to think of it, you have a definite thing for foxes, man.

  2. Nicholas D. says:

    Just another day deploying the nuclear option. Nothing to see here.

  3. M Blockley says:

    Fox head, proportional to 12-foot human body or no?

  4. M Blockley says:

    Believe me, that’s a rhetorical question. There are things we really and truly don’t want more detail than has already been provided in MK.

  5. JCD says:

    That’s a downright alarming number of new items to account for while traveling. Knowing that, your graciousness in accepting another book – albeit small, paperback, and easily misplaced during packing – by the time of Seattle’s University Bookstore reading is commendable and appreciated. Really.

  6. Leverus says:

    pshaw. it wasn’t graciousness, mere acquisitiveness. I wanted that book!

  7. JCD says:

    Yes, well, tomayto-tomahto. Hope you enjoy!

  8. M says:

    number 7 is awesome !

  9. Jaimie: Thank you for noticing, WRT that fox thing! I helped make the fox ears/tail happen. It’s like this: one fox scene is narrative, two is thematic, and three across two books begins to suggest that the writer has A Thing For Furries. We also had lovely “Team Reynard” ribbons on hand to give out, which is even MORE tasteless and inappropriate than the fox ears/tail.

  10. Heather Head says:

    The main thing I’ve gotten out of your tour is the fact that you will be in Atlanta on a night that I might be able to pull off being there as well. And the fact that my very smart husband is less smart than usual when I wake him up with important news.

    Me: We have to go to Atlanta Monday night!
    Him (groggily): Why?
    Me: Because Lev Grossman will be signing books! In a bookstore! In Atlanta!
    Him: In a bookstore?
    Me: He has a new book out.
    Him: He has a new one? I thought he just had one come out.
    Me: …
    Him: Oh.
    Me: This conversation is totally going in his blog you know.
    Him: You are not allowed to write down anything I say before I get out of bed.

    Trouble is, I’m not sure we will come after all because then he wanted to know WHERE in Atlanta and “a bookstore” was apparently insufficient data. So then he looked up Buckhead (he’s awake now) and said that a three-hour drive each way the night before we have a six hour drive to go home was not really as feasible as I think it is.

    And now I’m not sure I’m actually going to post this because apparently if I do I have to “get my own d*mn coffee.”

  11. Nicholas D. says:

    Team Reynard for life. Where’s the merch?

  12. Nicholas D. says:

    For the Team Reynard shirt, I’m thinking lettering in front of a nuclear explosion.

  13. I am pretty sure that guys can’t be Team Reynard without women having issues. :-) Or something.

  14. So, I admit that I found the idea of someone giving Lev a Reynard costume a little creepy. But somehow the “Team Reynard” idea has gone so far past creepy and tasteless into the realm of f-ing BRILLIANT.

    I even have an idea for a T-shirt/graphic… but, I don’t know… I feel like Team Reynard merch might have to come with a background check?

  15. Little My says:

    Hey, did you see the nice nod to MK in The New Yorker? Congratulations. “Grossman expands his magical world into a boundless enchanted universe, and his lively characters navigate it with aplomb.”

  16. Leverus says:

    I saw! Nice surprise.

  17. Danny Bloom says:

    Lev, hi. danny bloom in Taiwan, Tufts 1971….in asia since 1991…reporter here…..Lev. i got some good reserach on how MRI and PET scan tests are showing that reading on paper lights up different parts of the brain compared to screen reading of same text and that these regions are superior for info processing, info retention and info analysis…..i got 25 PHD experts lined up to give you qyotes on this supporting my hunch and research….can do story? not about me? about the reserch with MRI and PETs….anne mangen, maryanne wolf, bill powers, edward tenner, i got them all…..can do? email me here or at danbloom AT gmail
    ..

  18. Amy! We didn’t give him a Reynard costume *as such*. We just enabled his existing fox issues to be visually manifested. If we’d wanted to get him a fox costume, we could have totally done that — we’d already done all the research. :-) He didn’t even *wear* the tail, which is very nice and quite substantial. The ears alone are just a marker, at least within congoing fandom — a marker that says, “Yeah, I’ve been known to hang with furries every now and then, what of it?”

    Now the *bear* suit, that’s another thing entirely.

  19. PS: And the Team Reynard ribbons were precious — black flowy script on fox-orange ribbon. Very classy! Well, I mean, as classy as they can be, given the subject matter. :-)

  20. M says:

    check it
    someone created a cast list for The Magicians

    http://dangerousmethod.tumblr.com/post/9476969935/casting-lev-grossmans-the-magicians-mixing-the

    …. i dont know any of them except for emma roberts, i hate emma roberts…so she doesn’t deserve to play alice. we need someone more meek…and less obviously pretty..

    someone more… absurd and need to have more interesting eye shapes

  21. Leverus says:

    That’s cool. I think basically Kieran Culkin should play everybody in every movie.

  22. Hi Leigh Ann!
    Yeah, I dunno, I still think it sounds at least sort of like a Reynard costume… but that’s totally OK!
    I’m pretty sure one can’t love The Magician King without embracing it’s creepy, dark and disturbing elements.

    Speaking of substantial tails… I made a Team Reynard t-shirt/graphic.
    (Note that this was before I knew what the ribbons looked like, so there’s no correlation.)
    Do you think I’ll get hate mail if I put this in the Cafe Press store?

    http://pic.twitter.com/JlCDSS1

  23. qbertina says:

    Most disgusting comedy gold ever.

  24. [...] can also count me as someone who thinks that Team Reynard ribbons and T-shirt graphics have not yet passed beyond creepy.) September 11, 2011 | In books | [...]

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