The first stop of my book tour was Women and Children First Bookstore in Andersonville, Chicago. The reading happened the day after the book’s official release, so it became a launch party of sorts. I have a lot of love for WCF; I’ve been to a ton of readings there and always felt a sense of community. I loved the introduction I got from Shanta, the bookseller, and then it was on to reading three scenes from the book. Later, my friends said it felt like “Story Time,” or “Reader’s Theater,” as I ended with a scene that was very dialogue-driven. I did this thing that I learned from my friend, the playwright Lisa Schlesinger, where you look in a different direction for each character, to help orient the listeners.
What made the reading special is that it was the “local, hometown” reading–the one that all your friends come to, and it was an incredible treat to see my friends there. So many of my friends had helped along the way, and it was great that they could see what their support had led up to. I was also very tickled to see some of my former students. In the picture, you see Marquita Jackson, Michele Thompson-Draper, and Pamela Gabb, who’d been in my Intro to Lit class this summer and were just wonderful.
Also, I have to confess, I’m a bit of a ham, and love performing my characters. I also really enjoy talking about the book during the Q & A sessions. Finally, at one point during the signing, Shanta told me that we had run out of books, and I was surprised but delighted to hear that.
Afterwards, some friends and I walked over next door to Andee’s, a Mediterranean restaurant. The picture you’re seeing required multiple efforts–my camera turned out to be a sensitive soul, requiring special handling to activate the flash. But maybe the sepia look adds to its charm?
The day after, I decided to stop by a few bookstores and sign stock. My first goal was to get to Unabridged Bookstore, in Lakeview. Unabridged is great, and world-class in its selection. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) they were sold out of the book, so I didn’t stop by, as I waited for them to get more copies. I went instead to the Borders on Michigan Avenue, which is a very lively (and always packed) bookstore, and it was very sad to hear, a few days later, that they were closing. The staff when I was there was incredibly helpful and kind–going through such lengths to find me a Sharpie!–and I really do hope things work out for them, in spite of the closing.
Afterwards, I went to the Barnes and Noble in Lincoln Park, where I was absolutely tickled to see, in the New Fiction shelves, my friend Eleanor Brown’s book WEIRD SISTERS. I also saw my friend Rebecca Makkai’s THE BORROWER, which was very cool. My own book was there also, right next to Ann Patchett’s new one, STATE OF WONDER, which is, as everyone knows, a fantastic read. I also tried to make it to Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, but I ended up missing my train. I definitely want to get there eventually, though, Sharpie in hand.
All in all, my release week in Chicago couldn’t have been better. I met lots of wonderful booksellers, got to celebrate the debut of my book with my friends, and had that experience that’s always incredibly gratifying: seeing the finished book in actual bookstore shelves! There is nothing like it.