A little IN HER SHOES update for a pre-Sorority Life Monday night (and if you still think that September 11 had any lasting impact on our culture, five minutes of Sorority Life will cure you of that delusion forever).

The book is going to be a selection of the Literary Guild/Book of the Month club. So if you're a member, you can get it there, starting in November.

First serial rights -- also known as the first printed excerpt of the book -- will run in Readers' Digest. Yes, right before Humor in Uniform!

I admit it -- I was slightly weirded out by the idea of RD, as I tend to associate it with right-leaning politics and doctors' waiting rooms. However, it's a great place to have a piece of a book appear -- it's got an enormous circulation of devoted readers. Hence the title. And they're doing Anna Quindlen's new book in the current issue, and if it's good enough for Anna, then I say, bring on Life in These United States!

I just finished reading Michael Cunningham's FLESH AND BLOOD, which was amazing, and sad (and depressing, too, because now I'm convinced that IN HER SHOES is in every way its inferior, except possibly in the arena of descriptions of designer footwear).

And now that we're done travelling for the time being, I'm enjoying futzing with my garden. We've got a little red-brick backyard, and two big planters running along the permieter of the yard, plus two nice deep window boxes out front. Ever since the spring I've been picking up plants here and there -- at nurseries and flower shops and the Home Depot -- and trying my best to keep everything alive and happy. It's actually going better than I ever could have hoped. I've got three thriving rose bushes that I started from cuttings back in April (had a small aphid problem, but it's all good now), and cherry tomato plants that are trying to take over the world, and petunias and basil and geraniums and impatiens and snapdragons and black-eyed susans. It looks really beautiful -- a little shaggy and overgrown, because I overplanted when everything was still in seedling form and now it's all going nuts, but still beautiful. I'll post pictures of Wendell in the flowers, if I ever figure out how. I go out every day to weed and dead-head and water, and I think of all the years I lived in apartments, or college dorms, where you couldn't have a garden, or a pet, and you couldn't paint the walls, where there was never any point in planting anything because you wouldn't stick around to see it grow, and I think that it's good to have a garden, and a city, and a home.

Jen