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Excerpt of The Book Signing by Pete Hamill
Carmody came up from the subway before dusk, and his eyeglasses fogged in the sudden cold. He lifted them off his nose, holding them while they cooled, and saw his own face smiling from a pale green leaflet taped to the wall. There he was, in a six-year-old photograph, and the words Reading and Book Signing and the date and place, and he paused for a moment, shivering in the hard wind. The subway was his idea. The publisher could have sent him to Brooklyn in a limousine, but he wanted to go to the old neighborhood the way he always did, long ago. He might, after all, never come this way again.
The subway stairs seemed steeper than he remembered and he felt twinges in his knees that he never felt in California. Sharp little needles of pain, like rumors of mortality. He didn't feel these pains after tennis, or even after speed-walking along the Malibu roads. But the pain was there now, and was not eased by the weather. The wind was blowing fiercely from the harbor, which lay off in the darkness to his right, and he donned his glasses again and used both gloved hands to pull his brown fedora more securely to his brow. His watch told him that he had more than a half hour to get to the bookstore. Just as he had hoped. He'd have some time for a visit, but not too much time. He crossed the street with his back to the place where the bookstore awaited him, and passed along the avenue where he once was young.
His own aging face peered at him from the leaflets as he passed, some pasted on walls, others taped inside the windows of shops. In a way, he thought, they looked like Wanted posters. He felt a sudden . . . what was the word? Not fear. Certainly not panic. Unease. That was the word. An uneasiness in the stomach. A flexing and then relaxing of muscles, an unwilled release of liquids or acids, all those secret wordless messages that in California were cured by the beach and the surf or a quick hit of Maalox. He told himself to stop. This was no drama. It was just a trip through a few streets where once he had lived but had not seen for decades. After seventeen novels, this would be his first signing in the borough that had formed him. But the leaflets made clear that here, in this neighborhood, his appearance might be some kind of big deal. It might draw many people. And Carmody felt apprehensive, nervous, wormy with unease.
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