My 2011 blog­ging res­o­lu­tion had been one post per month but life inter­vened and not in ways that are par­tic­u­larly inter­est­ing to share here. I’m happy to report that I’ve just sent off first pass gal­leys of my story col­lec­tion, Ladies and Gen­tle­men, which Knopf will pub­lish June 28. The cover by Peter Mendel­sund (who also designed Mr. Peanut’s Lite Brite skull) is fab­u­lous and Jason Rice, of Three Guys One Book, did a nifty write-up on the book’s first story, with more, he promises, to come. It’s also already popped up on Goodreads. I’ve even got pre­lim­i­nary tour dates and will be mak­ing a west coast swing in July, which is thrilling.

Mean­while, I’m brush­ing up on my Scuba skills and read­ing Robert Hughes’s The Fatal Shore in prepa­ra­tion for my trip to Perth, Aus­tralia for the Perth Writ­ers Fes­ti­val—four flights and a mere 35 hours of plane travel, but who’s count­ing? A close friend, Dolores Karl, read Bleak House cover to cover dur­ing her flight to Oz. I’m going to bring Mann’s The Magic Moun­tain and can say with cer­tainty that I won’t get to the end by the time I finally land.

Reading-wise, I’ve been on a bit of a bil­dungsro­man kick, so I highly rec­om­mend the last two nov­els I’ve read, David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green and Saul Bellow’s The Adven­tures of Augie March. I’m new to Mitchell and the for­mer is entirely charm­ing and hilar­i­ous. I’d read nearly every­thing by Bel­low except Augie and it’s an uneven book like Ever­est is uneven in places—a tow­er­ing, gigan­tic, mind-blowing work, so hope­ful and life-affirming at its core. Read it now, if you haven’t. In between, I’ve been dip­ping into Bellow’s Let­ters, edited by my for­mer pro­fes­sor and truly remark­able teacher, Ben­jamin Tay­lor, and John Cheever’s Col­lected Sto­ries (I’d read his jour­nals in Decem­ber, also must-reading).

In Mr. Peanut news, I’ve received Dutch and Ger­man copies of the novel though the Roman­ian edi­tion has yet to show up on my doorstep. Crit­i­cal recep­tion in the Nether­lands has been ter­rific—here’s the most recent review for any Dutch read­ers—and all three Euro­pean cov­ers are cool in their own way. Piper’s Ger­man edi­tion pub­lishes at the end of the month. Vin­tage will pub­lish the Amer­i­can paper­back April 19. Finally, if you’re in Hoover, Alabama (a stone’s throw from Birm­ing­ham), next week­end, I’ll be appear­ing at the South­ern Voices con­fer­ence Feb­ru­ary 18, along with other great writ­ers like Helen Simon­son, Eliz­a­beth Strout, and Roseanne Cash.

More soon.