In the not so olden days, this would probably have been in the purview of the bookstore or the publisher or some combination of the two. With bookstores struggling to survive, that kind of thing is largely of the past, and I never knew it to be a major feature of the business anyway. Publishers probably do their wining and dining of authors somewhere other than small cities off the main book tour track. But in many ways, this evening was better. Steve took great care to welcome one of his favorite authors, and though the blown life up photos of Mr. Phillips head used as placemats was a risky touch, it seemed to have gone over well. Perhaps more important was the centerpiece of Arthur Phillips works, and Steve's close reading of all of them.
|This was the basis of the placemat...|
Arthur seemed up to pretty much everything the group could throw at him, and was gracious and appreciative of everything. I don't want to get too much into the details of dinner conversation without everyone's permission, but of course the conversation turned to the decline of books, as it inevitably does among any group of people who has a vested interest in their persistence. Arthur wondered after we had all gloomed it up for awhile about why what seems to be their passing seems so sad to us, since we at the table will probably always have books, and plenty to read until we ourselves are gone. If the next generation doesn't care about them, what of it? It's a good question, and was met by a musing silence. I think we want to pass them on, one of the guests said.
Anyway, at least some of us--the ones I've checked in with since--had a marvelous time. I'm not usually so namedroppy, but I really appreciated Steve's generosity and cleverness in putting the whole shebang together, and thought I'd mention it partly in thanks, but also because it might inspire a similar idea sometime in, well, YOU.
The reading itself, by the way, was highly entertaining. Some writers know how to do the traveling show aspect of this part of their gig and some don't, and no shame to them if its the latter. But Phillips has his act down, and I expect there is very little that could ruffle him in such a situation. Even a woman wandering into the room because she thought she'd heard him mentioning Brown College was taken into his schtick.
One man was noticeably laughing the whole time. Steve ran into the guy later in the parking lot and it turned out that he and his wife had seen Phillips on Jeopardy. They had come because they wanted to know if he was that funny in person.
Turns out he was.
And yes, I did buy a copy of the book that night. I'll be getting back to you on it before too awfully long.