Norman Mailer, I'm Pregnant!

| On
Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Wordstock: Mercury
Originally uploaded by jensect.

Wordstock Book Fair - Day One, Sat. 4/23

Seriously, I'm almost done with these Wordstock posts. For real.

Ha ha! OK, I didn't even see Norman Mailer, nor am I pregnant. But this was an episode title of Gilmore Girls this season and seemed too good to leave alone.

9:30AM: M. comes and picks me up - helps me to solve wardrobe malfunction. Problem: my ass hangs out of my pants whenever I sit down. Solution: longer shirt.

9:45 - arrive at convention center, having circumvented the Sucker Parking (10 dollars! outrageous!) by finding street parking and having enough change. Walk short distance to Convention Center and are greeted by Wordstock Volunteers at almost every entrance and intersection. They give out programs and tell us which way to go. We were perversely pleased that that all Wordstock Goons (M. came up with this name which amused us to no end) could tell we were there for Wordstock and didn't mistake us for Pottery show people, or the Mind/Body expo people - even though I *have* been to and enjoyed the Pottery shows many years previous. Like calls to like, I guess. We must have had that Book Nerd gleam in our eyes.

10AM: We split up - I go in to the Borders Stage to see Anne Perry, M. goes to a smaller room to see Sharan Newman give a lecture on a concordance she has written to the da Vinci Code. I find a seat and test my ass-covering shirt. It works, but it could have been a bit longer (or my ass a bit smaller, but I guess we know which of these is more likely). As I am sitting and fidgeting with my shirt/ass ratio, I take a look around. There's not too many people here yet. I am always a horrible guesstimator when it comes to crowds, but I would say the number was hovering somewhere between 50-75, perhaps eventually getting to 100. Mostly women, although there are certainly some men there too. Some guy gets on stage and introduces Willamette Week's Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Nigel Jaquiss, who will then introduce Anne Perry. I really admire NJ's writing, and think it is a testament to how good he is that he won this big-deal award after only being a journalist for 7 years. It is kind of a shame he is having to turn his investigative skills to finding out author tidbits. For example, Anne Perry's cat is 27.
Anne Perry takes the stage and is very nice, but weary. It is clear that she has been doing readings (although probably not at the same time as 4 other people also with microphones in the other corners of the room) for a long time. She's phoning it in a little, but I forgive her because it is only about 4:30 am her time, and this is almost her last stop on tour. She reads a bit from her novel Long Spoon Alley (she told us it comes from the phrase "when you eat with the devil, use a long spoon"). I only read her Monk novels, and this wasn't one of them so I just sort of listen to the rhythm of her reading (very good). She answers questions from the crowd. Some were good, some were heartbreakingly stupid, like at all readings. She also had material ready to talk about when the questions were lagging. She writes two novels a year, does prodigious research, and clearly knows her stuff. It was a good reading, but afterwards when I met up with M., I wished I had gone to listen to Sharan Newman instead. She had slides.

11AM: I shanghai M. into listening to Diana Abu-Jaber with me. I have never read any of her stuff, but I heard her be interviewed by Terri Gross on Fresh Air, and also used to read her column in the Oregonian. She now splits her time between here and Miami. Diana Abu-Jaber also gets a Nigel Jaquiss introduction, but there were no cat factoids that I recall. This reading was packed - she also taught at PSU, and I think she had former students there, friends, and people like me who were just interested. She read from her memoir The Language of Baklava. She's a great reader, interacted with the crowd really well and seemed pretty real. She suggested someone hop over to the next stage over and kill whoever it was that was talking so loud she couldn't hear herself think. That's when I decided she was a-ok with me. Instead of politely asking, "can you hear me?" she's all "DEATH!" Although she could have taken a page from her own book and offered the loud-talker some baklava. She had a good Q&A session, although the real pisser for this event (besides the noise competition from every other corner) was that it was almost impossible to hear audience questions. The Wordstock Goon Minder for that stage offered to hear the questions and run them up to the author, but that wasn't particularly efficient.

12NOON: I had a hankering to hear the screenwriting panel, God only knows why. M. humors me and we wander over and the line is snaking out of the little room they've scheduled it in. We turn away, only to scurry back 5 minutes later and get an even worse spot than if I'd just stayed put to begin with (story of my life!). So, Standing Room Only means they better be more than just a little amusing and instructive. It wasn't all bad - by standing I didn't have to worry about the shirt/ass ratio even a little. The panel was Mike Rich (former KINK fm news dude, now screenwriter extraordinaire of treacly feel-good movies); Whitney Otto (not a screenwriter, but had her novel How to Make an American Quilt made into a movie; Ron Shelton - director and screenwriter - wrote Tin Cup, Bull Durham, etc.; John Norville - I'd never heard of him before - I think he does a lot of clean-up work on other people's scripts; and finally, Shawn Levy, the Oregonian's film critic. If I were the Queen of the Universe, Whitney Otto would have either had her own panel on works adapted from your novel, or had at least one other person up there in the same boat. She was great - interesting and funny - but not really what they were talking about. Also if I were Queen - Mike Rich wouldn't have been there. I'm sure he's a nice man, but he didn't really have much to offer - other than "oh yeah! me too! Although when I did it, it was more boring, except for that one time when Disney really screwed me hard.", Ron Shelton could have done the panel all by himself - he was great and clearly had seen more Rise and Fall of the Screenplay than the rest of them put together. John Norville was interesting too, but he tended to wander off the topic a bit. Shawn Levy was fine, although I think he left Whitney Otto out to hang which he should have been able to avoid as moderator. Two more acts as Queen of the Universe in the context of this panel: the woman who kept letting her cell phone ring and then giggled about it would have had it explode in her purse, and the asskissing questions would have been reduced by at least 30%.
side note: I kept seeing Shawn Levy all over the book fair. Everywhere I turned, there he was!

1PM - LUNCH TIME. M & I leave the convention center to go to lunch. We ended up at Red Robin, because there is less standing (hey- we just stood for an HOUR, man). It was the right choice. "Is a booth OK?" " More diet coke?" "Can I bring you more fries?" The service was so good it was suspicious. Thank you, M., for lunch! It was delish and I owe you SEVERAL.

2PM ISH- we head back over and call my sister and harass her into coming down to hear Wesley Stace read. Then we wander the floor of the book fair. Look - there's Shawn Levy again. There are lots of bookstores and book accessory-type vendors here. It's quite nice. Food and drink, on the other hand is highway robbery. Reading this over, I see the recurring theme of my cheapness, and it isn't shaming me at all. After M. and I had wandered a while, we went outside of starbucks to call and see if Bec had made it yet. While doing that, I notice WS wander in and head toward the main room. He has avoided the check-in table with Wordstock Goons! Will he be allowed to read, or will they kneecap him before he steps on stage? We meet up with Bec, do a little shopping, and then head over to the Powell's stage where WS will be reading. Problem - there are a million deadheads swarming all over. Poor Elizabeth Gaffney - by the time we got there it was about Q&A time for her - there were only a few people left in her audience, but hundreds of loudly talking people waiting in line for Phil Lesh to sign their book. It was really obnoxious. And, it continued. The Wesley Stace reading was delayed about 10 minutes, and the Powell's stage minder had to come up and chide the line several times. Once the hippies were under control, the reading began. It was good. He read from a different section than the night before, he sang a couple of songs that one of the characters in his book sings. At one point it was an inadvertant duet with Marc Acito, who was belting out something on the Borders Stage. When it was all said and done, Phil Lesh was STILL signing books, so WS kind of had to hang around the autograph table until he was given an adjoining table. M. had bought his book earlier in the day, and decided to get it autographed since the line wasn't that long. Hooray! I would have liked to do the same, but I really only had $$ for one book and decided to buy Chelsea Cain's book since she is a) local, b) I am pretty sure she doesn't have as big of a publicity machine behind her as Singer turned Author Wesley Stace. (although I am sure his book is fantastic, and I do fully intend to read it.)

Be First to Post Comment !
Post a Comment

Klik the button below to show emoticons and the its code
Hide Emoticon
Show Emoticon