Coast to Coast: books, cars, music, teeth, from patch to patch of sunlight

The giant SINNER book tour is over, but there are still a few places to get the custom art book wrappers I made for it. Here’s a list of all the places I stopped on the drive — I left behind wrappers and/ or signed books at each, though I can’t guarantee they still have them. Call the stores before making the hike (and some of them will ship). 

NOTE: I’ll also be headed to the Decatur Book Festival and Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, and I’ll be bringing the wrappers to those two events as well.

VIRGINIA: Richmond — Fountain Bookstore

MARYLAND: Baltimore — Children’s Bookstore

PENNSYLVANIA: Pittsburgh — Homestead Barnes & Noble

OHIO: Akron — Barnes & Noble

OHIO: Crocker Park — Barnes & Noble

ILLINOIS: Winnetka — The Book Stall

ILLINOIS: Naperville — Anderson’s

ILLINOIS: Chicago — Books-A-Million (Clark St)

ILLINOIS: Chicago — La Salle Barnes & Noble

WISCONSIN: Milwaukee — Boswell Books

WISCONSIN: Milwaukee — Brookfield Barnes & Noble

WISCONSIN: Madison — Barnes & Noble (West Towne)

IOWA: Iowa City — Prairie Light Books

NEBRASKA: Omaha — Bookworm

NEBRASKA: Grand Island — Hastings

COLORADO: Denver — Tattered Cover (Highland Ranch)

COLORADO: Boulder — Boulder Books

COLORADO: Edwards — Bookworm

UTAH: Salt Lake City — King’s English

NEVADA: Reno — Barnes & Noble

NEVADA: Reno — Sundance Books

CALIFORNIA: Menlo Park — Keplers

CALIFORNIA: Los Altos — Linden Tree Books

CALIFORNIA: L.A. — Children’s Book World

CALIFORNIA: L.A. — Barnes & Noble, the Grove

CALIFORNIA: L.A./ Brentwood — Diesel Bookstore

CALIFORNIA: Montrose — Once Upon a Time

ARIZONA: Flagstaff — Barnes & Noble

KANSAS: Kansas City — Mysteryscape


The last location from Sinner — the land of delicious pies and kisses.


The shops in Santa Monica that inspired .blush., and Erik’s, the shoe store of tears.

PLACES FROM SINNER: Santa Monica (The Pier)

Last year when I was visiting SINNER places while writing the novel, I got a printed fortune from Zoltar. This year, I paid Zoltar a dollar, and he said “If you’re looking for a helping hand, look at the end of your own arm” and then gave me nothing.

Which I guess makes him right. 

PLACES FROM SINNER: Hollywood Forever Cemetery

PLACES FROM SINNER: 1-4 Venice Beach being Venice Beach

5 - the alley behind Cole’s apartment

6 - roof decks for boys flying planes and being wolves

7 - cafes for hire-car drivers to take rockstars to 

PLACES FROM SINNER: Baby North’s house

Also, Venice Beach being Venice Beach.

CITY: Los Angeles, CA

SMELL: Salt, nostalgia, the fleeting and never-enough odor of victory

PLACE: The Pacific Ocean

THE WAY: Instead of flying as usual, I wanted to drive my ‘73 Camaro cross-country on the Sinner tour. Four thousand miles across seventeen tour stops, two conferences, one faulty exhaust flange, one broken alternator, one failed master brake cylinder, and more gas stations than I can remember. “You could just rent a car for the rest of it,” observed humanity with each new car part installed. No. No, I couldn’t. Coast-to-coast was the point. Halfsies didn’t count.

PEOPLE: Kate, Brenna, Tessa, and David all sat in the passenger seat at some point. Everyone but David handed me a wrench at some point. I was driving Tessa and Brenna down to San Diego when I couldn’t stand it — I had to leap from the freeway and park the Camaro in front of the Pacific Ocean and take a moment to realize: 

*We made it. We really, really made it.

CITY: San Francisco, CA

SMELL: The savory upmarket scent of organic burger places vying valiantly but stereotypically with decades of human piss

THE PLACE: Street Art tour with Russell H.

THE WAY: Art and anarchy are both relevant to my interests, and San Francisco has its share of both. Russell was technically busy, but kindly agreed to meet with us over his lunch hour after he discovered that I had spray-painted my car for fun and profit. Moments before we met, he texted me: “on the way. wearing eggplant colores pants.” [sic] He was. 

PEOPLE: A stencil artist himself, Russell was passionate about street art. He described it as a conversation. I can see his point. In fact, I can see how many of my conversations would be improved by responding with a can of spray paint. Russell led us around Soma and the Tenderloin, lowering his voice as we walked toward what he described as the last bastions of San Francisco’s Skid Row. “Don’t look at anyone’s hands,” he warned, which of course made me look at everyone’s hands.* We parted ways in front of the Luggage Store, which says on its website P.S. WE DON’T SELL LUGGAGE. They do not sell luggage. Russell wished us well in the Camaro. “While you have those windows rolled down,” he advised, “remember to look out of them.”

*spoiler alert I did not die

CITY: South Lake Tahoe, CA

SMELL: The bite of conifers, the heat of lackadaisical road construction, and the tender, cosseted odor of unjaded, privileged youth growing into unjaded, privileged adulthood

PLACE: Reno-Tahoe Helicopter Tours

THE WAY: I informed Tessa and Brenna that I had a surprise planned for them. Warily, they asked if they needed special attire for the surprise. Hahaha no, I replied, and we drove for an hour to the south side of the lake. Surprise! Helicopter. Tessa began to clap as soon as she saw the airport sign. “Oh God,” Brenna said mildly, as I parked the Camaro, “you aren’t flying, are you?” I was not.

PEOPLE: Claudio was flying. He was Italian, or had been Italian, or was going to be Italian. It was immediately clear that he hated people and that we would get along fine. We briefly discussed the flying arrangements in the office, and then he told me, “You’re trouble.” This was unreasonable, as I was mostly just standing there. 70% standing there, 30% being myself. Maybe even 80% standing there, 20% being myself. Claudio informed us that we didn’t have to pay if we died, and then we walked out to the tarmac. As we climbed in, he handed us headphones. “Put these on,” he said, “and shut up.” A minivan drove by. Claudio swore at it benevolently. Well, mostly benevolently. 70% benevolent, 30% simmering rage. Maybe 80/20. As the helicopter soared, I recalled a lifetime of flying dreams. “How is it so far?” Claudio asked, with uncharacteristic tenderness. “I’m getting a helicopter,” I replied. Tessa laughed. Brenna sighed. Claudio frowned, and then he pointed to Tiger Woods’ house, which doesn’t look very large from the sky.

*Claudio had me sit in a different helicopter for photos. He told me to make it look realistic, like I was really a pilot. I asked him if he would also sit in the helicopter for me to photograph him. “Make it look realistic,” I told him. “Like you’re a real pilot.”