categories: Cocktail Hour
The Jacob Javits center over the old train yards in New York City is enormous, vast. And BEA barely fits in there, huge booths from hundreds of publishers and distributors and other giants, also little hopeful booths of all kinds, some staffed by a single writer in front of her single title, maybe a little sad. BEA is Book Expo America, put on, I believe, by the American Booksellers Association, and it’s overwhelming, puzzling, and really lot of fun. I have been there this week as the guest of Algonquin Books and it’s been nuts. My only job was to sign books for an hour and a half, like speed dating, quick, really wonderful conversations with I don’t know how many people, though I know Algonquin was aiming to give away five hundred bound galleys of the new book. Bound galleys are advanced reading copies (ARCs), and a lot of people come to the expo just to get them. And tote bags galore. But tote bags aren’t enough. In fact, there’s a corral downstairs where people check their roller suitcases. I saw more than one filled entirely with books. And nice to know mine are in there. Life Among Giants will be published in November–but BEA offers a chance to preview things. Plus we made the Publisher’s Lunch BEA Buzz Books list, and they offer a teaser here.
Some folks are fans, many are bookstore people. And in my line were friends, as well. One of them said, “I haven’t seen you since fifth grade!” It was Sally Hart! (Now Sarah). Whoa! That’s a tough two-minute conversation, with tears in my eyes. In some ways you know your fifth-grade friends better than anyone else you’re ever going to know in life. And then there are the E-Bay bandits, these men with cold eyes who say, “Just a signature and a date, please.” Or one, more honest, who said, “Inscribe it to Pal-Pal.”
Well, at some point that beautiful, hard-won galley will make its way to a reader!
And former students, most working in the industry. And the industry, judging from BEA, is feeling pretty optimistic.
And writers galore, some sweet reunions, a lot of hellos.
Most enjoyable of all was meeting the Algonquin and Workman people who’ve had a hand in the production of the book, and those who are to have a hand in the promotion and selling of the book. It’s heady stuff, and I’m feeling very lucky to be in such good hands, the hands of all my first readers.
Neil Young has a memoir coming in Octobe
r, and he
was there–a big attraction, sitting in a conversation onstage with Patty Smith. Yup. It was awkward at first, but these two charming people got to some very deep stuff, all while being funny and so smart on so many levels that you realize how they’ve done what they’ve done: brains. And of course fortitude.
Lunch with my editor, dinner with my agent, the Workman party. Fun.
And that huge poster of my book. Mine. And theirs, of course.
BEA Buzz Books, 2012:
* Neil Young: Waging Heavy Peace
* Shani Boianjiu: The People Of Forever Are Not Afraid
* Amanda Coplin: The Orchardist
* Jasper Fforde: The Last Dragonslayer
* Jessica Khoury: Origin
* Kevin Powers: The Yellow Birds
* Lawrence Norfolk: John Saturnall’s Feast
* Lance Weller: Wilderness
* J.R. Moehringer: Sutton
* Dennis Lehane: Live by Night
* Eric Devine: Tap Out
* Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian: Burn For Burn
* Libba Bray: The Diviners
* Ned Vizzini: The Other Normals
* James Meek: The Heart Broke In
* Mark Helprin: In Sunlight And In Shadow
* Scott Hutchins: A Working Theory Of Love
* Rhoda Janzen: Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?
* Teresa Rhyne: The Dog Lived
* Bee Wilson: Consider The Fork
* Iris Anthony: Ruins Of Lace
* Diana Athill: Make Believe
* Janet Gurtler: Who I Kissed
* John Kenney: Truth in Advertising