Back in the hotel room after spending the evening at the Midwest Booksellers Association Trade Show. I was on hand to say thanks for Coop being given a nice award.
I said thanks because the room was full of people who spend their every working day introducing readers to books, one by one, hand-to-hand. I would be nowhere without them. Above all I thanked them not so much for helping me tell my stories but for helping me share the stories of others…because it is in the unanticipated stories of others that readers seem to find resonance and – sometimes – a measure of peace. With these comments I had my brother and his little family in mind.
Before the event, I signed a mountain of books. This is only one stack. There were many more. Still, it seems easier than logging. Again, a tip of the hardhat to my brother.
After giving my heartfelt thanks, I used the remainder of my time to share critical insights related to bovine artificial insemination, because that’s what I think people expect at a literary gathering.
Most of all, though, I gawked. I love my mostly non-literary life. As in: I fed the pigs sour goat milk and old bread right before I left for this event (did shower first). And took the dang garbage out to the mailbox. But then a short drive later, I was listening to Neil Gaiman spin an effortless, wry, witty tale of how he came to discover he had accidentally become Midwestern – even as he spoke in his fabulous burbling English accent. I got to talk shop with David Wroblewski, a gentle man and engaging conversationalist. I was able to witness as Elizabeth Berg paid loving tribute to her parents. I got to hear Todd Boss read a poem that brought my father to mind and tears to my eyes. I got to look over three tables and think, “Holy shnikies, that’s Jonathan Safran Foer!” I got to hear children’s book authors discuss the creation of books I’ve read to my own little girls. And I got to meet some of the people who put my books in boxes and ship them all across the United States.
In short, it was kid-in-a-candy-store time.
Finally, in the category of things a guy never anticipates when he’s in nursing school twenty-some years back, I got Twittered by Neil Gaiman. I would be a disingenuous fakey-fraud if I pretended that’s not the coolest thing since the new chickens started laying. Thank you, sir.
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