1. Two big literary events provided bookends to my weekend. On Saturday, my local bookstore was celebrating its 40th anniversary. With big chains and mom-and-pop stores closing regularly, the odds of being in one location for 40 years is about the same as newlyweds Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries staying married til death do them part. So Community Bookstore threw a party and invited the neighborhood.
It’s a small store (with a cat and an iguana!) so they held the shindig at the nearby church. This is what’s great about my neighborhood: about 300 people showed up. To a literary reading. Where no alcohol was being served. Seven notable authors were reading, including Paul Auster, children’s book author Jon Scieszka, and the dynamic duo of Brooklyn literati National Book Award finalist Nicole Krauss and her NY Times bestselling husband Jonathan Safran Foer. They each selected readings from their favorite books published in the past 40 years.
Here is Jonathan Safran Foer reading from See Under: Love, by David Grossman. (Sorry for the blurry photo. I wasn’t able to use flash during the reading and I was a bit too far away.) I’m happy that Community Bookstore has been around 40 years and I hope they can stick around another 40.
2. The sixth annual Brooklyn Book Festival was held on Sunday. It has grown tremendously (and more organized) since I had a booth at the first festival when The Subway Chronicles was published. I’d had no idea what to expect so I brought 50 copies of my book to sell. My editor tried to discourage me from taking a table. But I’m glad I didn’t listen to her because by 1 p.m. I’d sold all of the books, including one to Elijah Wood. (Really!)
But I digress. This year, more than 150 booths were set up in the courtyard area in front of Borough Hall. Throughout the day authors participated in panel discussions like the one I went to with Pulitzer prize winner Steven Millhauser and Emma Straub (@emmastraub) discussing The Writer as Illusionist: What are the tricks of technique and perspective that can push fiction ever deeper into the realm of fantasy? I admit I was more into seeing Millhauser (Martin Dressler and The Illusionist) than hearing the discussion. For me it’s like being in the presence of a celebrity. In fact the entire event is like the Academy Awards. Oh, look, there’s Jhumpa Lahiri. Hey, isn’t that Walter Mosley? Wow, Larry McMurtry and Joyce Carol Oates. If you’re not into literature, you can subsitute the names Jennifer Aniston, Steven Spielberg, Natalie Portman and Tom Cruise to get the same effect.
4. Montague Street held their annual street fair and one of the fun events was the “dog show.” Local dogs could enter to compete in categories such as friendliest, cutest, face only a mother could love and so on. The crowd voted their favorite with a show of applause. Just like at Westminster (maybe) each category winner then went on to compete for “best in show.” This year, the all-around winner was Woody. And if I may say without sounding crass, Woody’s person isn’t half bad either.
5. During a cupcake emergency, I was helped out of near paralysis by Erika and Julia. A work friend was going to be in the vicinity of Crumbs and offered to bring some treats to the office. Which flavor did I want? Oh indecision of indecisions. Oh agony of agonies. Chocolate? Peanut butter? Carrot? Apple cobbler? Choosing a college was easier. Luckily for me Erika and Julia stepped in to save the day otherwise I might be still curled under my desk mumbling indecipherable words.
The winner was…black-bottom cheesecake brownie.
Have a great weekend everybody!