Book tours seem like tough slogs—not that I’d ever object to having the kind of writing career where I could conceivably be sent on one. It’s been fun lately to watch Ian Rankin and Sarah Pinborough ping-pong off each other as they toured the US, with Rankin often appearing at venues where Pinborough would be signing books a few days later. Rankin sang Pinborough’s praises at his events—a number of the people who came out to see her at Murder By the Book were there because Rankin had recommended her when he was at the store last week.
Alas, I couldn’t get to Rankin’s event, but I did make the trip into the city yesterday for Pinborough’s Behind Her Eyes signing. We’ve crossed paths briefly in the past (at the World Horror Convention in Brighton, which is now seven years ago, if you can believe that), and have exchanged messages on social media. So it was fun to hear her talk about her life in publishing and how she got the opportunity to write a thriller, and the problems of trying to market a book where the twist is so crucial to describing the story.
She was nearly an hour late arriving in Houston because her driver from Austin didn’t show up and new arrangements had to be made at the last moment. But I think everyone who came to the store for her appearance waited around, which says a lot. Murder By the Book is a great store, with terrific patrons. If I lived closer, I’d be there all the time. This was the last event in Pinborough’s tour, so Houston sent her off today with torrential rain, although the storms were less dreadful than initially predicted.
We saw Moonlight this weekend, which is now available on iTunes. I knew very little about the story going into it. It consists of three sections detailing the life of a young black man from Miami. The first part is when he’s eleven. Then it jumps ahead to when he’s seventeen, and finally to when he’s twenty-five. His single mother is a crack addict who ignores him and often sends him away so she can have the apartment to herself. He comes to the attention of a local drug dealer, but rather than take advantage of young Chiron, he takes him under his wing, together with his girlfriend. He becomes a surrogate father, teaching him to swim and explaining to him what some of the insults that are cast at him mean. He and his girlfriend provide a safe place for him to go, which is something he’s been lacking up to now. His life is no less difficult at seventeen, and at twenty-five he reconnects with a classmate with whom he had a meaningful encounter during that period that didn’t end well.
It’s an unusual film that toys with audience expectations. Some of it is based on stories from the writer’s youth and also the director’s. It was filmed in Miami, which creates an unusual juxtaposition of bad neighborhoods that are within walking distance of beautiful beaches. One of the most poignant scenes is the one where young Chiron’s interrogation of Juan, the drug dealer, forces the older man to confront the ugly nature of his business.