Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Florence, Paris, London, Elbow

Photo by Michael Prince

The past several months have been a bit of a blur, focused (or I guess if it's a blur it would be a sort of an unfocused-focused) on The Book. The book, the book, the book. You know, The Underside of Joy? Yes, that book. So when the opportunity to travel in Europe with my son, Michael, came up, I jumped. I mean, how many times is your 20-year-old son at least seemingly excited to travel with you? And what are the chances it will happen again?

Granted, he had been hoofing it across Europe with his friend for a month after their semester studying abroad ended, staying in youth hostels, counting every Euro. So it may not have been only my company he was thinking of. Who cares? Yes! I'd love to meet you in Florence. I'd love to get away from thinking obsessively about the book and spend some mother/son bonding time exploring incredible cities.

The ol' book can wait, right? Ella Beene and the town of Elbow will still be here, waiting when I return. But of course! Andiamo!

Although Michael had been in Florence for four months, he hadn't yet climbed to the top of the Duomo to gaze out at that gorgeous red sea of rooftops. So that is one of the first things we did.

In Paris, we made the pilgrimage to that famous bookstore on the Left Bank, Shakespeare & Company, a newer version of the one Sylvia Beach started, where Hemingway and friends hung out. My kind of store, where old shelves and every nook and cranny are crammed full of books both used and new. So many books, so little time. How does one choose? Ah, but when your mother, l'auteure, is standing over you with her camera? Not so difficult.

And what is Paris without a stop at the Eiffel Tower? It's so commanding, so captivating, especially at night with its multitude of lights -- that giant, glittering pathway to the heavens. Nearly impossible to look away.

Nearly, but not quite.

Our final stop was London. Land of Harry Potter. The first book that grabbed my little boy and would not let him go.

Move over, Harry. He's mine now.


  1. Wait a minute. Did I miss something? "The Underside of Joy" can't already be in print in Europe, can it? Is this an advance copy that he's holding?
    At any rate, Sere, this is cute. What a great trip, and a great kid.

  2. Carol: Yes, that's one of the advance readers copies they printed up for the BEA. The real thing won't be out until 2012, and later in some countries.

  3. Yay! Bravo on the book, and these gorgeous pictures, and a reader for a son ... and a trip together! So much that makes me smile. xoxoxo

  4. Well...what does he think? Where's Mike's post?

  5. What a wonderful trip with your son. Reminds me of a similar one with my son in Italy when he was in his early twenties. Also went up to the top of the Duomo. And how exciting and fulfilling to have him reading your book there. This sounds like a wonderful time in your life and as a fellow writer, I'm happy to hear/read about the great things that are happening to you - the awards, recognition, having your book published, and seeing it in print. Finally, after all the years of hard work and hope.

  6. Lindsey: Thank you! I'd always hoped I could travel with my kids someday and am feeling very grateful this all came about.

    Suz: Well...he actually finished it while we were still in Florence, so that's a good sign, right? He said lots of nice things at dinner, but he was really hungry and I was paying the bill, so there's that.

    Pennie: I know you have many years of hard work and hope behind you too, and I'm looking forward to reading your book someday in the near future.

  7. Oh God, Seré, I can't stop laughing! Those photos and your writing are too funny.
    How fortunate for both of you to be able to have an adventure together in Europe.
    Your love for each other, and your sense of humor, really shines here. So good to hear from you, so happy you're living it la vida loca--and fully, too! :-)
    (That last photo made me laugh so hard I cried.)

  8. Wait. Those pictures were posed????

  9. If I only had a son! I'd want him to be cute and well-read, with good taste in literature like yours!

  10. Lovely report of your trip. Your boy loves your book, he can't put it down. I miss those places in your report so thanks for sharing the memories and photos.

  11. Love this post! I am one of the lucky few Blogher members who got an advance copy and will be part of the Book Club next month. I read the whole book in a day and I have two kids 3 and under, so that should tell you something. Really enjoyed it and am really happy for you to have it published and to such great early press and exciting news. Look forward to writing the review on my blog next month and to future books from you. :)