Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey

Bestselling author of Wool and other books. Currently sailing around the world.

Crazy Cool Email

I get a lot of awesome emails. I wish I could share them all. No way I could keep this one to myself.

Email subject:Eerie in its accuracy

Your scene in Shift set in Kramer Books between Donald and Sen. Thurman is eerie in how closely it parallels an experience I had thirty years ago. I had gone into Kramer Books to browse the biography section when I realized there were fewer and fewer people around. I noticed suited men at the end of each isle preventing new shoppers from entering the stacks. Then I saw the curly wires of their earpieces. A gentleman, the only other person in the stacks by then, browsed my way and asked me if I was going to read the book I had in my hand (the 3rd volume of George Kennan’s memoirs), and I told him I thought I would. We continued talking and after a while it dawned on me I was talking to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. I stifled my disgust and remained polite and he eventually picked a biography and a history book and, as you described, handed them to one of the secret service agents to take to checkout. So, yeah, the scene seemed real enough to me!

Best regards,
Brad

Follow-up email:

It was 1977, when Pinochet came to Washington for the ceremony to sign the Panama Canal Treaty during Carter’s presidency.

8 replies to “Crazy Cool Email”

Very cool! I lived and worked in D.C. then (actually at the U.S. Department of State with some of those special agents that protected foreign dignitaries) and I got a kick out of your Kramerbooks scene when I read Shift. Just checked and it’s still there… great spot.

I hope you’re still thinking about opening your own bookstore.

Thoroughly awesome!

Somehow, I don’t think I’ll ever get an equivalent “I tripped on that same rock you mentioned in your book while trail running.”

It does show how much a book store acts as a nexus for a community. Sadly, I live in a town without a bookstore – new, used – just. . . .nothin’.

I once took a trip to England, found a fancy hotel in London, dropped off my suitcase and went touring. When I came back that evening and entered my room I saw my suitcase open and everything carefully laid out on the bed. Nothing was missing, just displayed. I went to my brother who was in another room and no one had checked him out. I went to the front desk to complain, they told me it was a random security check. That was crap, I have an Irish accent, my brother does not(this was during the time of the ‘troubles’). Angry that it was just racial profiling against Irish I informed them i would check out in the morning and find a less racist hotel. They didn’t care one bit, even when my brother( a special investigator for the DA who was there to visit some big shot in Scotland Yard), informed them I was American born and raised. They remained rude.
The next morning as i left there were men is dark suits all over the place, I thought they had come for me until I watched Charles and Lady Di enter through the front. I then understood, and AGREED with, the security. I would have checked everyone if Lady Di was coming to my house, lol.
But it doesn’t end there….. I said hi to Lady Di, we had met in a construction project in the World Trade Center just three months previous where she had asked me lots of questions about growing up in the Bronx, she was a nice lady, she remembered me. The funny part was when she asked me how i enjoyed my stay, I told her they were rude and I was leaving. When i turned to the guy at the desk, he was as red as a beet. After Di went to her room they apologized to me, offering me a week for free, but being thick headed, I still left. My credit card was never charged though.

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