It is with great reluctance and sadness that I’m letting you know I won’t be attending one of my favorite events, the Tucson Book Festival, next week. The desire to go is high — but I decided to withdraw for a few reasons:
First, as someone who has been prone to pneumonia in the past, I’m not exactly giddy over the idea of catching COVID-19 or even the flu that is currently spiking there — nor do I want to bring that home to my family or other vulnerable members of my local community (family, friends, school). And traveling to Tucson for me means three airpots, and four plane flights, plus hotel and such. I tend to get sick most trips, somewhat, and in fact last time I went to Tucson I came back with the flu, which progressed to pneumonia (“flumonia!”), which was my second bout with it that year. (And I gave the flu to my family. Oops?) It’s not that I expect to die (though, do we ever?), but I also will have a difficult time reckoning with a serious respiratory illness.
Second, the coronavirus is daily a rapidly shifting situation and one that remains… a little bit mysterious. For every answer, we find out two more questions about it, and though the severity is hoped to be less, we just can’t say with any certainty what this will do. The concern is multiplied by the fact our own country seems to be largely rudderless — the only trickle-down that’s happening here is the trickle of information we’re getting. While that doesn’t mean we should all panic and gargle hand sanitizer until we yarf, it probably merits caution in the sense that maybe we cut out some non-essential things. My wife was already a little freaked out with me going. So.
Third, the author panels I was on were already cut in half — a number of authors had already opted not to go on advice from family, publisher, doctors, etc.
Fourth, I’ve had some fans express reservations about going, but still wanted to go to see me… which is great, but then that makes me feel bad because I don’t want you to put yourself in harm’s way (or anxiety’s way) just to see me or get a book signed.
Fifth and finally, I’m an anxious lad who wrote a book about a pandemic.
So, with that said, I’m so sorry I won’t see you there.
I am as always glad to try to send bookplates, either to the festival in my stead, or to you directly. And certainly I hope the festival would consider having me back again in the future.
Be well, and wash your hands.
(No, wash them again.)
(AND STOP TOUCHING YOUR FACE, CARL.)