Travel Articles




Five Days in Beantown -- Day 1

Why do Europeans always describe Boston as a "European City"? Where on earth do they get this? If you mention Boston to anyone--anyone--living on the Ye Olde Continente of Europe, you will get this response in various accents:

"Oh, I love Boston. It's not like an American city"--cringe--"at all. It's more like a European city." Big smile, as if they have just remembered the good old days or the sight of their first-born child.

"What did you do in Boston?" you ask.

"Oh, we did the Freedom Trail and ate lunch in a German restaurant." They'll say this as if it is the totality of Beantown. (Want to know why Boston's nickname is Beantown? Here's an explanation that is much better than anything I could give you.) They will say this with such a straight face that you will be tempted, just for a moment, to believe it. But you shouldn't.

Boston is so much more than the Freedom Trail, which I do indeed walk on my last day in Boston. Boston is skyscrapers and busy shopping streets like in Manhattan and Chicago, and Boston is also hordes of homeless and mentally ill people roaming the streets. Or maybe I am just hyperaware of people talking to imaginary friends and enemies.


My arrival in Beantown is baby-butt smooth. My flight is five minutes early, and there is no queue at passport inspection or the taxi stand. I'm at my hotel within 30 minutes of landing. This will never happen again.

Dillon's, Festival of Language ReadingI was a bit nervous about the logistics of arriving since I'm expected to read at the Festival of Language off-site reading at around 9:00. What a treat it is to converge at the door of Dillon's with several of my writing compadres I've known only online, publishing and being published by them--especially Stephen Hastings-King, one of the most interesting, intelligent characters around. I end up spending a lot of time with him--but not quite enough--over the days to come. If Jetlag Man--me--were able to drink cider into the wee hours, we would talk until daybreak.

Stephen Hastings-KingAnother wonderful surprise is seeing Dora D'agostino, a writer I met in June last year at the KGB reading. She is the first person to buy one of my books at AWP. Thank you, Dora! People who buy my book are INCREDIBLE people indeed!

The reading goes . . . well it goes. I have no idea what I read anymore. See, I am Jetlag Man. My superpowers are confusion, a drained look that causes people to buy me alcohol, and the desire to hug everyone I see. I read from Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), I think. At the very end--since my awesomely talented, amazingly gifted and incredibly kick-ass playwright/screenwriter friend Lori Fischer has missed my reading--I read a new story called "When Susan Died the First Time." I'm told Lori has made a video of it, so we might be able to see Jetlag Man in operation.

Another person I "converge" with at the door of Dillon's is Len Kuntz, a fellow editor at Metazen. Reaching up to hug this giant--both physically and in terms of his body of work--is a feat in itself. Len emanates goodness. You can actually feel it when you're around him. No lie. I wish I had a good picture of his reading. They're all blurry. Picture him, though, thusly: tall, trim and smiling; intensely focused and present. Brown hair. There you go.

I'm a bit fuzzy on what happens next. I know Stephen Hastings-King and I gab for a while before Lori and I head off to our hotel. I somehow sense the importance of going to bed fairly early, allowing Jetlag Man to become Christopher again, like The Incredible Hulk becoming Bruce again.

It has just occurred to me that you, sweet reader, may not know why I am in Boston. I'm here for AWP 2013--the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, a gathering of around 11,000 writers, publishers, MFA programs and students of writing. The largest actually. The atmosphere is electric, and the panels promise to be, for the most part, interesting. I'll be speaking about them in posts to come.

More tomorrow from Jetlag Man in Beantown.

I must be off,


Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an absurdist satire about how gay identity is formed in modern America. Available from Amazon Anything in paperback and Kindle editions.

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