Oh, exciting times here in Philadelphia.

First of all, it was All-Star weekend. Which meant that the best NBA players (plus every single black musician, rapper, athlete, or television star-slash-wig-saleswoman) was in town. Adam snagged tickets to Saturday night's events -- the three-on-three competition starring the likes of Moses Malone, Dawn Staley, Magic Johnson and -- go figure -- Justin Timberlake; the slam-dunk competition, and the three-point shooting.

I am not much of a sports fan. But I love Adam, and Adam loves basketball, so off we went. And while the basketball was interesting in places (the dunks were pretty fabulous), the best part was the star-spotting. Fashion statements abounded. Evidently, fur is the hot thing for men to be wearing -- fur coats, fur vests, fur sombreros. Whereas the don't-try-this-at-home look for the ladies is skintight jeans, stiletto-heeled boots, and a bikini top. With a fur coat on top. Yikes!

Meanwhile, my all-time Favorite Foreign Cover Ever honors go to Japan for this entry. You have to follow the link to Amazon's Japanese website to see it, but it's totally worth it to see the extremely adorable watercolor illustration of Cannie and Nifkin sitting on the bed. Better yet, the thing you can't see is a little painting of Nifkin's head at the top of the spine. It's always so thrilling when the foreign editions of the book look so great (as an author, once you sell the rights, you've got nothing to say about the cover, or even, sometimes, the translation. I've been mostly lucky in that respect -- for instance, I had a very diligent German translator who took the time to ask me for definitions of everything from Tater Tots to sympathy fuck. But sometimes things get, as they say, lost in translation -- for instance, I got a note from an unhappy reader who'd read the Polish translation where, evidently, Martha's Vineyard isn't a place but an actual vineyard, and where a bar mitzvah becomes an actual bar, with a liquor license and everything).

In other foreign-edition news, the foreign rights of GIB have just been sold in Hungary and Norway. So if you're Hungarian and/or Norweigian, and you're struggling through the English edition and wondering why oh why the book hasn't been published in Hungarian or Norweigian, fret no more.

Back in the World of Work, I've had long conversations with editor extraordinaire Liza Nelligan about how to bring IN HER SHOES to its highest level of excellence (or at least have it not suck). I'm nipping and tucking, adding scenes here, taking scenes out there, smoothing out the dialogue and untangling some of the knotty calendar problems that plagued the first draft. (Liza: "Do you know that it's three in the morning for, like, an entire day in this chapter?") Lots of interesting things to consider. Like the fact that this book is, like GIB, set in Philadelphia. Liza wants to move it to New York. I maintain that I can have a long career setting books solely in Philadelphia. I also think that it's perfectly okay to revisit certain themes, like the issue of weight, and the redemptive love of a little dog. "John Irving always has bears and wrestling in his books," I said. "Right," says Liza. "And the critics always take him to task for it." Hmph.

So I'm writing away and enjoying the brand-new Vanity Fair, complete with Dominick Dunne's most recent musings. Is it me, or is he turning into the upper-crust version of Larry King? This latest article includes a plug for "my really longtime friend Elaine Stritch" and her "absolutely brilliant one-woman show," an appreciate of the Beverly Hills Hotel ("one of my three favorite hotels in the world, along with Claridge's in London and the Ritz in Paris,") and name-dropping galore. I like Dunne's novels fine, but his social commentary always leaves me feeling like a homeless person with my nose pressed up against the window of his oh-so-fabulous life, a whirl of superannuated gaiety featuring regular lunches with Nancy Reagan and talk of Betsy Bloomingdale's hip replacement. He's got everything but the dot-dot-dot format. Which I miss.

In other news, I'm finally getting the cable internet hookup. No more dial-up modem! No more missing important phone calls from telemarketers! Or editors!




Jen