So, it's spring and I've been slacking on posting. One of the reasons is that I've been selling books at lots of events outside of the store. Author events are like anything else in life. They can seem exciting--but after time they aren't always so great. It's similar to the pizza joint your best friend worked at in high-school. At first, it's thrilling and wonderful. Then it becomes mundane and boring.
So after ten years and about 1,000 total events I'd recently become a bit jaded by events. You often hear the same questions from audience members(what time of day do you write/do you write on paper or the computer/what does it mean). And authors frequently read for far too long in my experience. Yet, in the past few weeks I've attended two events that were revelatory. Very different in many ways and similar in all the ways that are good.
Norah Labiner is a talented novelist whose style is all her own. She has published three amazingly creative novels with local Coffee House Press. I attended an event at the Loft Literary Center two weeks back--she read and was accompanied by her husband on pump organ. It was a fascinating evening and I really encourage you to see her read if at all possible. Two more chances are coming soon: 5/21/09 at the Hamline Midway Library at 7 p.m. and 6/30/09 at the Ridgedale Library also at 7 p.m. This is a great example of a small press working with a talented, if fairly unknown, author. Her novels are mind-blowing in their creativity and genre-bending ways.
This past Wednesday evening, we sold books at the Minneapolis Club for Graywolf Press and their author Elizabeth Alexander. She's now best known as the woman who read a poem at Obama's inauguration. Now a big name in the world of poetry--she has long been a stalwart at Graywolf. And only when she began to read the now famous poem did I realize that I was witnessing a truly historical moment--if on repeat. Her reading was measured and simple and powerful. She also discussed all of the pressure and madness that was involved with her writing the poem and getting it into print. Graywolf rushed a very beautiful chapbook edition of the poem into print and it is available for $8.
What these two events reminded me of was a pretty simple fact I had forgotten: events can make a powerful book or work even more powerful. Art, in person, is a very different thing than art on paper.
A bonus is that we got 20 copies of "Praise Song For the Day" signed by Elizabeth Alexander. We'll only be selling one copy per customer to limit dealers and collectors from hoarding them all. Available until they're gone.