Monday, July 25, 2005

Mim-Mo magic

Miami is a city of sensations. Music dances around each corner. Spanish and English bounce off the street like staccato notes. Humidity settles onto brown skin and white skin. Expectations hang in the night air as clubs come alive.

We stayed at the Omni Colonnade on Aragon Avenue, just a block away from Books and Books. The hotel was phenomenal—a historic structure featuring heavy crystal chandeliers, gurgling fountains and artwork depicting times long ago when the city was in its infancy. The rooftop pool is a work of art. We chose this hotel because we combined a much needed vacation with my work obligations. They gave us a great rate because it was partly a business trip and we needed two rooms since our daughters came along. We were also able to walk everywhere we wanted to go in Coral Gables. We only drove the car when we went to South Beach the next day.

I signed that night at the bookstore and if you never visit another bookstore, go to Books and Books. The place feels more like a library than a retail establishment. Shelves run from floor to ceiling, and there’s a courtyard where various events including music performances take place. There’s a cafĂ©, and large rooms filled with books and items related to books.

I was happy that a respectable number of people came to hear my presentation. I didn’t count because I never had time. I realized after I spoke that Killing Earl really touches people in a way I didn’t anticipate. One woman came with her daughter who is experiencing a mystery illness of her own. Another woman came because I’d spoken to her mother’s book club in another city last year. Everything fell together nicely.

After my event, we had dinner with Beth Cioffoletti and her husband John. Beth is the woman whose email changed my life a few months ago, resulting in my tackling another book quite a bit earlier than I’d planned. We had a meal and drinks together at Puchetta Restaurant a few blocks from the bookstore. What a restaurant—a very diverse menu, with fresh seafood and food prepared with no canned or processed foods. Pastas are made on-site. Our host made us feel as though we were dining in someone’s home.

We did South Beach while we were there, and enjoyed the Mi-Mo architecture of the hotels. We had lunch just across from dunes and seagrass, and the food was excellent. A group of Hare Krishna disciples filled the air with music; pretty young girls with cigar boxes strapped to their bodies wandered up and down the boulevard.

In all, the combo business-pleasure trip was a resounding success and a much needed respite. If you sign anywhere, sign in Miami.

Next up is this weekend in Savannah, city #4 on my tour. As always, come and see me if you’re in the neighborhood near the Oglethorpe Mall Barnes and Noble.

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