Eating Authors: Ilana C. Myer

1 Comment » Written on September 28th, 2015 by
Categories: Plugs
Ilana C. Myer

Over the weekend, while the Pope was visiting Philadelphia, I fled south to Maryland and took part in the Balitmore Book Festival. In many ways, that event marks the first point in the run-up to the release of Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard in three months, not least because I signed and gave away a small stack of ARCs. Between now and then I have innumerable blog tour posts and five conventions. First among that last is a day trip up to NYC for Comic Con in about a week and a half. If things go according to plan, the Fab Four (I think I’m Ringo) of Tor’s “Class of 2015” will recreate last Spring’s BEA performance and again join our moderator John Scalzi on stage. The star of the event is likely to be this week’s EATING AUTHOR guest, Ilana C. Myer, whose debut novel, Last Song Before Night, launches tomorrow. She’ll still have that “new book smell” and the audience will doubtless latch onto that, raise her up on their collective shoulders, and parade her around the Javits Center.

Or something like that.

I’ve heard stories about Comic Con, and I don’t know how many of them are true, so I may have things slightly off in that regard. On the other hand, something I’m completely certain of is that Ilana’s debut novel is an absolute delight. And I’m not just saying that because we’re classmates. Pick up a copy, read it for yourself, and then drop me a note apologizing for ever doubting me.

LMS: Welcome, Ilana, and congratulations on the shiny new book. Now, let’s get to that transformational experience, your most memorable meal.

ICM: There are meals that are memorable for the food, and it is inevitable one may turn to memories of a place like Paris or Tuscany or East Asia for an account of these. (I would like to get to East Asia! Someday.) But perhaps more meaningful are the meals we remember because of the place they occupy in the fabric of our lives, the events surrounding them. So I am going to talk about perhaps the most boring sort of meal I once had—a pizza lunch. Delivery, in Queens, New York. Kosher, on top of that. Just plain, kosher pizza. But this was a meal with some distinction. I was twelve years old and my life was about to change forever. It was—at least for many years—my last meal in America.

Last Song Before Nightuptor

Since I was three or four I understood that someday my family would move to Israel. Every year my father would say we were moving, “in a few years.” Until suddenly when I was twelve it was to be that summer. Our home, the semi-attached house in Queens I’d grown up in, was all packed up, emptied, strange. The last day in the country we were in my grandmother’s kitchen, waiting to leave for our flight on the now-defunct Tower Airlines. And my mother decided that on our last day in America we should have pizza. I’m not sure if it’s because she didn’t want to deal with six hungry children (or five—pizza was irrelevant for the six-month-old baby), or if there was something celebratory, or ceremonial, in the gesture. But either way, she insisted on ordering pizza from one of the kosher places on Main Street—Shimon’s, unless it was Benjy’s—even though time was running short. It arrived steaming hot in its red-and-white boxes, two pies for the family.

The pizza, as I recall it, was delicious, especially in retrospect; at the time I didn’t know that Israelis in the 90s didn’t know the first thing about making pizza and that I would miss our Main Street haunts tremendously. But more important, it nearly made us miss our flight.

Remember that scene in Home Alone when the family is running through the airport to the tune of “Run, Run, Rudolf,” dripping bags, panting, looking ridiculous? That was us, with the addition of two strollers. I still remember the near-eyeroll of the gate personnel as we flung ourselves at the flight gate—they had been holding the plane for us. Everyone on the plane knew we were the cause of the delay, and were probably even more delighted when they saw we had an under-two-year-old and a six-month-old in tow. (For good reason: the babies were vocally unhappy the entire way, and if I slept in the entire twelve hours, it might have been for ten minutes.)

If I close my eyes and recall the gooey, savory glory of that pizza I recall simultaneously the surreal quality of that last meal at my grandmother’s—surreal in its ordinariness, given what was about to happen—and the ensuing panic at the airport. And beyond that, the way life changed so suddenly and with such finality in the space of one day. It’s a lot to load onto a plain kosher pizza, but as memorable meals go—that was one.

Thanks, Ilana. How many people ever get to experience pre-Israeli pizza? There’s a metaphor there, surely.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!



One Response to “Eating Authors: Ilana C. Myer”

Such a great story. Thanks for sharing, Ilana 🙂

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