some kinds of events
the shoestring series where you (read: I) read with some other writers to more or less drunk yet often attentive and enthusiastic people, many writers, and sell them books out of your backpack using your square, or there’s a table in the back where they buy some.
the academic event where students either have bought your book as a textbook or there is a local or university bookstore in the back. your host will say or not say “buy books” or “get your books signed” and part of the education going on has to do with the way students are being introduced to literary culture– live people making things, trying to get paid to do it, what their role as consumers is in art both within and outside of their role as students assigned texts, the construction of literary celebrity, how that affects their reading habits and experiences.
events where the organizers forgot something or the bookstore forgot something and there’s no books. everyone is so sorry. the mixup where they said “we’ll have books” and then realize they meant to say “oh, maybe you should bring some” or the mixup where you thought one thing and you were wrong and that’s why there are no books.
Sometimes there are a few books and no one buys any and the supplier feels ripped off for sitting there and goes home. You feel sad b/c you put your heart out and everyone is polite but they don’t buy books and does that mean your work is no good or just too whatever for a live event and you console yourself thinking your book is for a solitary person in a large chair in a comfy room. Or you think maybe your book’s just an okay book and only you will really like it and that’s worth something right?
This book, reading from it, has been different than my other 2 books. people buy this one when it’s there. they hear me read it and they buy it, they see its cool cover and they buy it, some combo. Especially younger people, who hear their own voices in it. dunno if it’s a better book b/c people buy it at the kind of literary events that exist: events for younger people, events for drunker people. Now when there are no books– and sometimes there are events where it is as if no one thought maybe there should be books– or maybe they thought selling books at a literary event was immoral, you know, would ruin the literaryness of it– anyhow though, b/c this book tends to sell, now when that happens I feel the loss of readers. If there are no books to sell I feel like someone who will never go online and order a book b/c that is not part of their lifestyle, or not yet, that haven’t make the neural connection– would buy a book and take it home and sit in a big chair and feel connected to it. Plus a moment of commerce moving toward and not away from me. I don’t know that I will ever write another book that will intersect with marketing and community venues like this again. It will take some adjustment. When there are no books to sell and the event was organized by writers I feel bummed sometimes b/c I think the writers who organized it don’t believe that kids like books anymore. I like to own books. I feel something powerful from it, from owning. Like in Lispector– the smallest woman in the world, which I think of so often in so many ways. A kind of capture– a pleasure that necessarily includes some darkness. There are a lot of books they don’t like and won’t buy, but there are some that they will, and those books are not always so bad, are they?