I read at Espresso 77 last night. My son sold books for me and gave out free mugs as gifts. Four friends, ten customers, and three employees listened in. I read the opening six pages of Open Wounds and the first five pages of the second part, The Bells of Hell – where Lefty is introduced to the reader and to Cid – the protagonist.
The shop turned off the music.
The customers looked up from their conversations and laptops, took out their earphones, put away their phones.
Just about everybody tuned in for twenty minutes. It’s hard not too in such a small space.
I stood by the register with my back to the milk and condiment cart. The owner’s art-work surrounded me on both walls.
I love this place.
I wore my Espresso 77 t-shirt which says, “I love espresso,” on the front and Espresso 77 on the back. The writing is in white and red. The t-shirt is black. I wore my special, thick, writer-ly, wool coat. It doesn’t have elbow patches. It is slate black. And it is cool.
I may not be cool.
But my jacket is.
My son sold three books – two to friends, and one to a customer who got into the reading and decided to give it a try.
It was just about perfect.
Earlier that day my son and I went to a local pool hall and played ping-pong – 30 pool tables, 5 ping-pong tables, 2 air hockey tables, and one foosball table. I introduced my son to foosball. He liked it – a lot.
If the sun had come out and it had rained diamonds it couldn’t have been a more perfect day.
My son asked me if I had a nickname when I was growing up. I told him yes. When I played rugby I was called Joe Nose, usually accompanied by, “the Nose knows.” I broke my nose 9 times on the rugby pitch, so often that the last few times I had to push it back in place myself before it swelled and I had to go the doctor for rearrangement. Rugby players all have nicknames. I don’t know why. One guy we called IDK because whenever someone asked what his name was none of us knew. “I don’t know,” became IDK.
In Open Wounds Cid calls Winston Arnolf Leftingsham, his cousin from England who comes to get him from the orphanage he is stuck in for five years, “Lefty.” Winston has no left arm or leg (the leg is a wooden replacement) and is badly scarred on the inside and out from mustard gas fighting at Ypres in the First World War. Cid never calls him “Lefty” to his face because… that would be wrong. But the nickname sticks.
My son has had some nicknames so far, like Maximum Max, Maximo, and Maximillion, but nothing that has stuck yet like Lefty or The Nose or IDK. I hope he gets a good one. They’re good for character and myth building.
In case I forget later, I’ll be at Espresso 77 in my neighborhood on Sunday evening 7-8pm reading and talking about Open Wounds. If you’re in Jackson Heights, Queens, come on by and have a latte with me and talk books.
I’m doing a reading at my favorite coffee shop in Jackson Heights called Espresso 77. I have one of their mugs and a t-shirt at home. If they were a football team I’d be a fan. If they were a rugby team I’d play for them. As it is I’ll just have to settle for being a frequent customer.
Afzal and Julie are the owners and they are both wonderful people who’ve helped build community in our neighborhood through good coffee, food, and cool atmosphere. My wife and son and I hang out there a few times each week – and have done so since they opened up three years ago. I walk by it every day going to and from work.
I did an interview with the Queens Tribune on the bench outside the front door last summer. My son showed some of his artwork there thanks to Afzal (who is an artist also) and now I’ll get a chance to do a reading of Open Wounds.
If you’re in town and want to come by, it’s a small shop with Gimme coffee from Brooklyn (which is awesome if you like coffee) and well-trained baristas that make just about perfect cappuccinos and lattes every time. I’ll be drinking their seasonal Honey Bee Latte and reading/talking about Cid and Lefty and the Open Wounds gang for an hour. Most of the time I drink tea but once a day, late in the afternoon, when my energy is low and I’m on my way home from work…
There’s nothing quite like doing something this personal in your favorite neighborhood hangout.
Sunday Evening from 7pm-8pm.
Going to Cambridge MA this week for two days. Cambridge public library will be hosting an Author Trio event this Wednesday the 16th that I’ll be a part of with the wonderful Amalie Howard (author of Bloodspell) and Leigh Fallon (author of The Carrier of the Mark). We’ll be reading and answering questions so I hope to see you there if you’re in the neighborhood.
I’ll also be visiting local indies in the Cambridge/Boston area and a fencing salle or two (Bay State Fencers on Thursday the 17th in the early evening from 5-7pm) before I head home late thursday evening.
Oh… and the pictures are of Occupy Wall Street Zuccotti Park. We went on Friday, Veteran’s day, and took a bunch of pics. I also gave their library a copy of Open Wounds to add to their reading list. I’ll be putting up pics of the demonstration all week.
They wrote me letters.
My friend Leslie handed me a stuffed white envelope filled with them. They run from quarter page to full-page, are written in black pen and blue, with some in pencil. Some say Dear Joseph and some say Dear Joe, some Mr. Lunievicz and some Joseph Lunievicz. They all thank me for coming to their class so I’ll only share a few over the next couple of posts. I hope you find them as fascinating and wonderful as I do.
I really like the first chapter you wrote and with more understanding of the reason why you wrote this book I can say that I understand the haunted feeling you went through. I’ve known what you meant by vision it’s day dreaming of the haunted feeling. I want to know how you finished your book. I’ve only wrote so short of my small moment but I’ve only been speaking English for six year. I’m an Arabian girl. I want to make sure that one day I can be as creative as you are. And write abou the war in the Arabian war. Thank you. I hope I get to read your book some day.
Thank you:- K.
I told them about my vision of a 72-year-old Cid Wymann (protagonist of Open Wounds) on the roof of the Chelsea hotel dueling with sharps with a man whose face I couldn’t see – the idea which consciously began the Cid Wymann story. I am always amazed at what people hear when I talk – what sticks with them as important. I love this letter.
Dear Joseph Lunievicz,
Thank you so much for coming to our school! I had a lot of fun with the read aloud and fun facts of fencing. I am a writer as well, and finally I know how to actually publish a book! I get compositions notebooks and write many stories. My friends G. and J. are me “editors” and they write stories in notebooks as well. Thank you, so much for coming to our school and I hope you come again.
Your Truly, R.
PS I suck at spelling too.
Okay. So I told them all how bad at spelling I am and at least one student heard that and took heart that she could be a writer in spite of being spelling-challenged. She’s even got an editorial pack already in place. I can’t wait to read one of her stories.
I thank you for coming to 161 and telling us a little about your life and your book “Open Wounds”. I’m going to read that when I’m done reading my “Vampire Prince” so I thank you for coming and may god Bless you.