I like books.


I live in a small town and enjoy writing about the inhabitants. I spend most of my time perusing through used book stores looking for that one great book that I don't have; consequently, I have rooms filled with books. I am a book addict.

Friday, November 18, 2005

A night with Amy Tan.

Last night, I had the privilege to hear Amy Tan read from her most recent novel. In addition, she told a lot of personal antidotes about her life, her mother, and even talked about the death of her father and brother. It was, without a doubt, one of the major moments in my life. It will go down with moments like hearing Sandra Cisneros read, meeting Bill and Hillary, and meeting John Travolta, howbeit through the window of his car. It’s all-good.

But Amy Tan, I must tell you she is great. Now, when I read her novels, I will hear her voice, her physical voice, and it will make the novel much more intimate. It’s like when I heard from a tape Gwendolyn Brooks reading her poem “We Real Cool”. Now, when I see the poem, remember the poem, or hear others read the poem, it is her voice that I hear, her inflections on certain words and briskness on others. That, that is how I will always read Tan, I will read it with her voice in my head. If you ever get a chance to hear one of your favorite authors read, even if it is on a tape, do it. It makes the much more intense.

Anyway, Afterwards I stood in line for about an hour waiting for her to autograph my book. The moment came when I stood in front of her and I had practiced really cool things to say and she asked me was the book for me and I fumbled with my words and tried not to blush and finally yes came out. I thanked her for the autograph and moved on and then it occurred to me, maybe my thanks was not sincere, maybe I didn’t truly appreciate that she was signing over 399 books, because many of the 399 people there, bought ten or more books for her to sign. Her hand must have been hurting, and to be put on display like that, oh my god. I wasn’t grateful enough. Book signings are for the fans no matter what people think, oh there were hundreds of her books bought last night, but truthfully, she didn’t have to sign every single book or page of autograph book or sheet of folded paper, but she did and she did it so gracefully with her two tiny dogs in her lap and with such a smile on her face for each and every person who passed her way.

Later, I had coffee and breakfast with friends and we went over the night, nerds we are, all three of us in the Master’s program, all three of us writers and lovers of great books. We discussed our favorite poems and it got down to more intimate things like explaining to me what a Jacob’s ladder and a Prince Albert are. I am fifty they are less than 25 and I must say, things are different but so many things are the same. They loved Amy and we all agreed that she is one of our favorite writers. It’s amazing that she writes like me, she uses incidents in her own life, from her childhood, from her mother and grandmother’s life and she makes fiction from all those stories or memories.

I hope someday to have a book out or many books out and people love the book so much they are willing to stand in line for hours to get my signature and I hope that I am as graceful and sweet as Mrs. Tan. Oh how sweet life is.


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