Afternoon off. Used bookstore in town called “Author Author,” run by two women writers. They had Bridge of Birds and Eight Skilled Gentlemen by Barry Hughart.
“Barry Hughart,” one of them said. “Any good? ‘A novel of an ancient China that never was.'”
I was dumbfounded for about three or four seconds. What do you say?
“He quit writing after the third book,” I said. “Couldn’t stand the publishing industry. People cried.”
“The publishing industry isn’t so bad,” she started– Writerly types. What-ever.
I mumbled something about shy, retiring types, and left. Next door was a sushi restaurant, so I went there. The waitress wasn’t a native English speaker, and after I stared at the menu for a few minutes right before lunch ended, offered to bring me the special of the day. I have no idea what I ordered, but it turned out to be tasty. If I had to write the hick-midwest version of the name of the dish, I’d call it “Shrimp log with rice and god-damn if that isn’t some kind of raw fish on top. With, uh, teriyaki sauce involved in there somewhere.” And miso soup.
I could eat miso soup for breakfast. Not every day, mind you, but I could. The bottom of the bill was printed with tipping guidelines. I went to the coffeeshop down the road, avoided all the tea-type products, and ordered a triple decaf cappacchino. I wanted cheesecake, but they didn’t have any.
“My surname is Li my personal name is Kao and there is a slight flaw in my character.”