I will be on the road a fair amount this fall, introducing my new novel, Day After Night, to the reading public. (Check out www.anitadiamant.com for where and when.) I’m not looking forward to it.
But fear not. This is not another ungrateful rant about the drudgery of the commercial journey. I heard a writer once call book tour fatigue a “first-world” problem –- on the order of too many choices in the grocery store. Believe me, I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to meet readers, which is the best part of a book tour. Actually, it’s pretty much the only good part.
The problem is that I am always a very reluctant traveler. I head for the airport fighting the gravitational pull of my own home. On the eve of any trip –- a day in New York, a week in Jerusalem, it makes no difference — I am already longing for the consolation of my return. My husband’s unthinking daily kindness breaks my heart. I get melancholy moving laundry from the washer to the dryer.
It is unfashionable to dislike traveling. So many people I know love to travel, live to travel, that it seems like a weakness or even a moral failing not to embrace the adventure of distant places. Does this mean that I lack curiosity? Or maybe I’m just a wimp. My daughter has already lived on three continents and she is only 23 years old.
People assure me that my aversion to travel is due to with working trips, which inevitably lead from airport to hotel to bookstore or synagogue or lecture hall, then back to hotel and airport again. Minneapolis, Cleveland, and many parts of New Jersey are all a corporate blur.
But the truth is, vacations make me anxious on their own terms. I get overwhelmed with choices: where to look, what not to miss. The essential experience or unbeaten track? A conversation with natives or another museum? The museum is easier and you get to check it off the universal travel to-do list. Which leads people to utter sentences such as, “We did London.”
My favorite travel experiences have been utterly random; the wine tasting I attended with a couple of medical students (complete strangers) in Tel Aviv a few years ago; the conversation – in French – with a man from Naples as we sat at a family-style restaurant in Florence; the Israeli restaurateur in Costa Rica, who served us the best meal we ate all week.
You don’t plan stuff like that; it just happens. I just need to scrape up the hope to believe that experiences like that are possible wherever I go — including stops along a book tour.