I've attended many a book-reading and author-signing. These events are usually a good treat, though from time to time they can be actively painful: the author whose work is amazing, but whose reading style is like nails on chalkboard.
Personal-size pan-pizza pet peeve: readers who declaim with a continual up-raise, so that even a stretch of workaday prose sounds like a call to arms. This oratory style can be cool for poetry (hi Amanda Gorman!), but I find it much less so in a domestic drama or, say, a nonfiction account of a military snafu.
And somewhere in the back room here at the blog, I have a half-finished essay about the sartorial peculiarities of authors in the wild. Do I carry a badge from the fashion police? Does this stop me from judging? Am I stuck Chandler Binging rhetorical questions?
I mean, I get it: fiction writers spent a lot of time alone, playing with invisible friends and muttering while wearing jammies or a favorite baggy poet's shirt. One must feel comfy while submerging oneself in the moral drama of tiny claymation people even while raining hellfire onto their wee imaginary lives.
And when the lucky moment comes for the writer to read to in public, I think everyone understands that this (at least this, if not air travel) is the moment to doff the p.j.'s and get dolled up.
Clothing is costume, right? Business casual, Carhartt's head-to-toe, Boho chic, biker boi -- it's all about identity. So when one of my odd tribe dons a Crocodile Dundee hat, or pairs an abbreviated red satin slip-dress with tall cowboy boots, or sports non-ironic shoutout lace spats and a leather jacket á la Madonna circa "Lucky Star," it's revealing on another level.
Not just skin (it was a SHORT dress), but also about identity.
Of course, when the glorious day arrived when I would myself be signing books in public, this badge-flashing, judgey-judgey critical eye turned briefly inwards.
And then back out again.
It was a chilly day. I had a nice autumnal pair of corduroy trousers and my trusty fisherman's knit sweater. Part of my self-image involves not wanting to fuss about how I look, evidently. I put on some lipstick and called it good.
And what a day! There was a delicious charcuterie board, and Veteran's Day-themed bevvie (the Stone Wall, favored by Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys, involving mulled cider and optional Captain Morgan Spiced Rum).
The Little Bookstore is little, so standing room only means half a dozen folks, but--!
We sold out of books (hurrah!), not all to kind friends. The first sale in fact went to a visiting thespian performing at the Clayton Opera House. Why yes, my good woman, just an ordinary day at the farthest reach from Manhattan!
Honestly, I didn't quite get a cramp in my writing hand, but it was a delight to give it a go.
Thank you family, friends, bookstore goers, and those shining beacons of civilization: bookstores!
It's likely to become a theme for me but: I regret only not taking more photos.