I would have given most anything to have been driving down St. Charles Avenue on a morning a few days before Jazz Fest, crossed Napoleon and seen Clancy Martin standing in the neutral ground in nothing but a towel, holding his wallet and cell phone frantically calling Nathaniel Rich to see if he could borrow some pants. Martin, a contributing editor to Harper’s magazine and the author of the fantastic novel How To Sell, was in town to buy a specific variety of jewelry that one could apparently pick up cheap in the French Quarter and sell at a nice price in New York—he’s telling the story in a series of posts on the Paris Review Daily:
SO HERE I AM, a forty-three-year-old philosophy professor lying on a four-poster bed with the Marengo Street sun insisting its way through the lace curtains, calling each of my credit cards to see what the available balances are and hitting # repeatedly to talk to a representative to try to get a temporary increase. I e-mail my agent so that she can tell me there’s no money hanging out there to collect (we have seven thousand dollars coming from Korean rights, but I’ll be lucky to get the check by next year’s Mardi Gras). I call my brother, and he wires five thousand to my checking account, which increases that balance to $5,812. Then, options exhausted, but with perhaps enough credit to make two deals (my first appointment is in an hour and a half, and the 1910 seed-pearl choker he’d described to me on the phone sounds like it must be VCA because of the invisible-set emeralds in the toucan clasp), I take off my clothes, fill the quaint claw-footed tub with hot water, and—here’s where things go terribly wrong—place my phone carefully on a hand towel on the sink next to the tub, turn the volume up, and, thinking of my divorce, play Cee Lo Green.
Martin has become the PRD’s go-to guy for wonky adventure stories—his last entry had him hitchhiking from Kansas City to New York to see an art exhibition. Check back to the PRD for more installments of Martin’s adventure in New Orleans, and in the meantime read an interview I conducted with him for STOP SMILING magazine about How To Sell.