It has been a whirlwind week in New York where I went to promote The Restless Hungarian at a conference of the Jewish Book Council.  (Read their review here)  One is invited to do a carefully rehearsed, two–minute pitch to curators for Jewish Community Centers, synagogues, and other organizations around the country.  Think two-minute Ted Talk.  I had rehearsed my pitch for days to get just the right mix of passion and informal congeniality.  Then on the flight over I came down with a raging sore throat!  Would I even be able to talk?  I got through it with an ample dose of DayQuil…though I sounded like I was channeling Tom Waits.  Afterwards authors and curators, wearing green and yellow name badges, mingled.  The greens, myself included, made a beeline for the yellows, hoping to plant seeds that would lead to all-expenses paid visits to wonderful places.   I’ve never tried actual speed-dating, but I imagine that is what it’s like.

The following day the architect Malachi Connelly, Sharon and I drove around Bushwick, Brooklyn to buy wine, cheeses and fruit for the a launch party and book reading.   The venue was Malachi’s office hidden within an old repurposed factory, behind shipping containers, and a Vietnamese restaurant appropriately named “The Bunker.” How would anyone find the place? And would I actually be able to read to an audience?  By Wednesday evening, I had completely lost my voice.

Miraculously, the next day I could speak again and the reading turned out pretty well.  An old childhood friend whom I last saw when I was thirteen showed up.  As did the granddaughter of Anna Perczel, whose parents knew my father in the underground communist movement of the 1930s.   It was with some trepidation that I welcomed my half-bother and half-sister, to whom I had sent preview copies of the book.  They had not responded.  Were they angry with me at how I had portrayed our father?  The chronology of The Restless Hungarian ends before they came into the world. Would they feel cheated by not being included? They did not, and they each walked out with an armload of books to give to their friends.

It felt good to come home, driving Route 4 as it lifts from the Central Valley and begins to wind through the foothills.   We had uncommonly late rains this year and the earth was still fragrant with moisture.   It is a joyous thing to see and feel the vast open spaces opening up as we leave urban centers behind.   We were astonished to see how much the plants around our house had grown is just a week.  In our 10-tree orchard, branches were already laden with small peaches, apricots, and pears, many more than we have seen in the past.

The first order of business on returning home was a lengthy Skype call with Edina, Máté, and Zsofi, my Hungarian producer, location manager and art director who are working with me to produce complex recreations for the film in Budapest in September and October.  I have learned about “mood boards” from Zsofi.  A mood board is a collage of props and furniture envisioned for use in a scene in a film.  Here is the mood board for a scene in the film, which is also described in the book on page 21, about my father’s earliest memories.

“Why still make a film now that you have written a book?” you may well ask.

There is a long and a short answer. The short answer: The film is a completely different animal. It is very different from the one I started five years ago. before I was informed by the experience of writing the book. It will get down to the essence of things… more intimate, more personal, more scary, and more beautiful than what I could have previously imagined. I will share the long answer with you as it unfolds… through the summer and fall. Stay tuned

Buy the book here. There are still  about half a dozen promo codes available for a free download of the audio book. Write to me and put “free audio book.” in the subject line.