Modern Family: Real Life on the Road with Emma Straub


Two years ago, Nashvillians met novelist Emma Straub during her stint here as a visiting writer at Vanderbilt. Having read early copies of her soon-to-be-breakout bestseller, The Vacationers, we at the bookstore didn’t think we could love the author of this book more — that is, until we got to know Straub and her delightful family. The Straubs went back to New York despite our pleas to stay in Nashville forever; but now Emma’s coming back for a visit, this time with another story (again, a bestseller), the tale of college friends all grown-up and navigating adulthood, Modern Lovers.

In a review for The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani praised Straub’s “verve and sympathetic understanding of her characters.” Maybe it’s those very qualities that made us fall for Straub herself. If she can empathize with her flawed, stubborn, fictional people, surely she can understand all of us human beings, too?

To further prove that Straub is the brilliant yet humble pal you’ve always wanted to have, please enjoy these snapshots from her book tour thus far and the captions she wrote to go with them. And don’t miss her visit to Parnassus Books next Tuesday, July 12, at 6:30 p.m. right here in the store.

Some people buy expensive, flattering clothing for their book tour. Not me! I decided to go full-tilt crazy instead. My publisher, the superlative Riverhead Books, made some little pouches as a promo item, and when they sent me the info about the company they used to make them (Print All Over Me), I realized that I could make myself clothes. So I did. And then I made clothes for my entire family. Why be less crazy when you can be more crazy, you know? Also, as a mother of a five-month-old baby (four months on my pub day), it’s massively helpful not to have to think about what to wear.
Here’s another from the “Riverhead is Bonkers, But In a Good Way” department. In Modern Lovers, there’s a cat named Iggy Pop, and he goes missing. On my pub day, I discovered these lost cat posters on telephone poles on my block. Like I said, bonkers, but in a good way.
One of the things that’s really fun about publishing a book is deciding what food to serve at your launch party. This time I got three giant cakes from my friends at Ovenly, and they threw in this little cake as a prezzie, which obviously meant that I was supposed to eat the whole thing by myself, right?
This pool shot was taken after we arrived at our Los Angeles AirBnB to find a terrifying hovel and quickly decamped to a nearby hotel. My three-year-old got to sleep in a king-size bed, and the baby slept in a crib in the bathroom. Life with babies is often described as boring and repetitive, but taking children on book tour takes care of that.
Two completely sane people and their perfectly behaved offspring.
Not all bookstores are created equal. Some bookstores (including, of course, Parnassus) come complete with cuddly animals. This sassy pup named Lola belongs to Copperfield’s in Petaluma.
By far the most stressful part of book tour has been when I have to travel away from my baby, which requires using my breast pump and also a lot of crying in public. The sight of things like this in airports is sort of like a person dying of thirst seeing a tiki bar in the middle of a desert. It’s the little things in life — the space-age pod little things.
(Proof of BBC visit.)
This month I got to be on TV twice, a personal record for me, having been on TV exactly no times ever before. The first was on a Canadian morning show. I wore my jumpsuit and got very, very excited when the host announced that Joe Jonas was following me, only to have my feelings crushed when they told me that his segment had been pre-taped.
The second time I was on TV was for The Today Show, when I did not stay remotely cool but instead pretended to be an anchor and take lots and lots of pictures.
Job perk: Sometimes when you mention cheese enough times in print, people notice and send you huge boxes of cheese.

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