Author event: Alix Strauss and *Based Upon Availability*

There are some weeks when J is at work late (or out of town), and my evening activities are ‘based upon availability’ of a sitter for the kids.  Often these nights end with me whining about missing an event and like most fish tales, ‘the one who got away’ gets bigger and better with each retelling (It was her ONLY New England appearance!  This is THE book of the season!, etc.)

Then there are the days when the stars align … last Wednesday was one of those nights!  I hit all the green lights as I drove to the train station, an inbound train was waiting for me, and the dark clouds held off.  Although I can take no credit for the traffic lights or train schedule, I’m confident that slipping my paperback out of my purse and replacing it with an umbrella helped ward off the rain (and made for good people watching on the train, since I didn’t have my usual diversion).

The event was held at The Liberty Hotel in Boston; the hotel name itself is not the only ironic name – meet your friends for drinks at Alibi, dine at Clink, or enjoy a private reception in the beautifully landscaped courtyard (the former exercise yard, still called “the Yard”).  That’s right, The Liberty Hotel is the former Boston City Jail.  Closed in 1990, with renovations beginning in the early 2000s, the hotel is now part of “The Leading Hotels of the World” collection, a luxury property with outstanding services and amenities.  Preservationists retained exposed brick and wrought iron railings from the original building, keeping the building’s history while updating it for today’s traveler.

Alix Strauss’ event was held upstairs in one of the suites overlooking Boston and the Charles River.  It was a lovely intimate affair and I enjoyed talking with the author, friends and family, the Liberty’s GM and PR director, and other guests, including Marie, the Boston Bibliophile and her husband.  I was able to joke with Marie “what are we doing next Wednesday?!”, as we had met the previous week to view To Kill a Mockingbird at the Brattle Theater (sadly, no plans for this week!).

Alix knows how to throw a party!  The bar offered several drinks based on characters from Based Upon Availability.  Isn’t that clever?!  It was a great sneak peek into the personalities Alix would introduce when she read from her novel.

And she did read … after about an hour of mixing and mingling, Alix took the center of the room and shared a bit about her recently published novel.  The excerpt she read introduced us to Morgan, the (fictional) manager of the Four Seasons Hotel in New York, her mother (and a gaggle of her mother’s friends), and several of the hotel guests.  Alix’s writing is sharply observant and witty … like the author herself!  After she read, she took questions from the room, and had us laughing (yes, LOL!) with her quick humor.  She is so warm and personable, I could have listened to her talk for another hour!

Here’s the back-of-the-book synopsis, showing us that Alix Strauss is about to share what might go on behind closed doors at any shi-shi hotel:

… readers are drawn into the lives of eight seemingly ordinary women who pass through Manhattan’s swanky Four Seasons Hotel. While offering sanctuary to some, solace to others, the hotel captures their darkest moments as they grapple with family, sex, power, love, and death.

Trish obsesses over her best friend’s wedding and dramatic weight loss. Robin wants revenge after a lifetime of abuse at the hands of her older sister. Anne is single, lonely, and suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Drug-addicted rock star Louise needs to dry out. Southerner turned wannabe Manhattanite Franny is envious of her neighbors’ lives. Sheila wants to punish her boyfriend for returning to his wife. Ellen so desperately wants children that she insists she’s pregnant to her disbelieving husband. And Morgan, the hotel manager—haunted by the memory of her dead sister—is the thread that weaves these women’s lives together.

The reading focused on Morgan, the hotel manager, and some of her unexpected daily activities … wow, the next time I check-in to a hotel, I’ll be wondering about what goes on behind the reception desk!  I’ll be bringing this novel on vacation with me later this summer, in the meantime, check out some of the reviews of Based Upon Availability from its recent TLC Book Tour.

Oh, and since I have a knack for catching people mid-blink, I’m unable to share the pics I took of Alix at the event.  This photo is from her website, where you can learn more about the author, her books, and upcoming events.

Thanks to Alix Strauss and the Rachel Moniz at  The Liberty Hotel (who swears she’s nothing like Morgan in the novel!) for a lovely evening.

Is Based Upon Availability on your summer reading list?  Does this type of fictional (or maybe not-so-fictional?!) exposé make you wonder about behind-the-scenes in hotels, restaurants, etc.?  And, have you ever visited jail in the name of research?

9 comments to Author event: Alix Strauss and *Based Upon Availability*

  • I’m so glad the stars aligned for you because the event sounds fabulous! Elizabeth Berg will be close to us this Saturday, but we’ll have out of town company, so I’m trying to figure out how to make my stars align for that event.

  • I loved, loved, loved this book and am so excited for you that you got to meet the author and listen to her read! I found the book to be very darkly complex and yes, I too wondered about all those people working behind the desk at the hotel! I do so hope that you enjoy this book, and I will be looking forward to reading your thoughts on it. If you do end up liking it a lot, I have another recommendation for you.

  • I am always in a constant state of jealousy over all of you that are a train’s ride away from events like this. I think Florida has a real bad reputation, because nobody comes here unless they live here. This book sounds quirky and wonderful!

  • What a great event. And the book sounds wonderful.

  • Wow…I read and reviewed this book and strongly disliked it…and it is normally the kind of book I love…I think the dysfunction was just too weird for me. The characters for me were very unappealing. I have read some reviewers who felt the same way that I did but we must be in the minority…I am so happy you loved the event.

  • As you already know, I though your evening sounded near perfect. You are so lucky to live in / near a city with such great literary events and that you can take advantage of them sometimes. We have nothing. And, frankly, I just don’t have it in me to drive 2.5 hours each way just for a reading or a signing. Call me crazy or lazy or some other “-zy.”

  • Sounds like great fun!

  • Kathy – Saturday has come and gone; I’ll have to check your blog to see if you brought your house guests to visit with Elizabeth Berg.

    zibilee – I’m bringing BASED UPON AVAILABILITY on vacation with us, so I’ll be back in touch for your further recommendation – thank you!

    Sandy – clearly you need to open an indie yourself (wouldn’t that be a dream!?)

    carol – it really was a lot of fun. Great that the hotel was open to co-hosting a novel based on hotel ‘secrets’ :)

    Patty – I’ve been in that situation, too, where others just rave about a book and I have a “huh?!” reaction. I’ll be reading this one soon …

    Beth – nope, no -zy words for you! 2.5 hours (or anything over 1 hour) is too far for me unless it’s the proverbial once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

    Lisa – it felt like a little bit of NYC in Boston

  • I love author events like this. We just visited Alcatraz in February and last year we visited the local prison in Mansfield where much of Shawshank Redemption was filmed. Both of which would be awesome places for Stephen King book signings. The Mansfield prison is much creepier than Alcatraz.

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