Sunday, March 20, 2011

Virginia Festival of the Book

The Virginia Festival of the Book's Annual Vendor Fair was held in the sun-drenched lobby of the Omni Hotel in historic downtown Charlottesville. I drove all morning, sat at the Atticus Books table for a couple hours, took a walk in search of carbohydrates and caffeine, and then drove on. In the car, I listened amost exclusively to FM pop stations, so the "boom boom boom" and other dance songs have now permanently scarred my brain and left me speechless.

In Europe, sales offers of Fight for Your Long  Day expand almost exponentially (on and, at least as the optimistic quintile of my imagination allows me to believe), but for my two-hour drive stoppage, no one in Charleslottesville took me up on my signed-book offer or anything else. A number of browsers were willing to take a look, but it seems Cyrus's life was not the must-have I told the guy down the street serving espresso it ought to be seen as.

The prominently published writer Jenny White, a professor of anthropology at Boston University, took a considerable peruse through the pages of the novel, but she didn't say a word about it. Perhaps she'll work the adjunct angle into her bestselling detective fiction about Istanbul and the Ottoman Empire. I just read the description of her Winter Thief, and it looks like the kind of book every educated, overworked person loves--well written, suspenseful, with intrigue, a chance to learn about a different culture or historical period (significantly more affordable than a direct flight to Constantinople), and not concerning a here and now that is just too "problematic" or painful to think about. While she was looking at the book, I read her name tag, knew that I knew that name, and twenty minutes later passed her stack of books near the front. I didn't get an autograph or anything else, and the person I thought could be Dorothy Allison turned out not to be.

The publisher of Jaimy Gordan's National Book Award winner, Lord of Misrule, was also present and stopped by the Atticus table after a few hours to say he hadn't sold a single copy of the small press novel that roared. Well, we could chalk this up to Charlottesville's monied snobbery and its unwillingness to look a West Virginia horse in the mouth although the larger truth is that it was just too much of an amazing sunny day to waste too much time indoors on browsing and buying books.

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