Sunday, September 19, 2010

Another day, another author event (and another book, of course!)

For whatever reason, this week has been heavy on author events.

It started last Sunday. The Chicagoans among you know that many of us (recent surveys suggest as many as 80% of us) have never been reconciled to Macy's having changed the name of Marshall Field's. Every year at this time, there is a demonstration under the clock at the State Street store.

This year, following the protest, there was a book discussion and signing at the State Street Borders, just down the block, with Gayle Soucek, the author of Marshall Field's: the Store that Helped Build Chicago. There was much reminiscing about the glory that was Field's, as most of the people there were either former employees, former customers, or both. Soucek is currently writing a book about Chicago catastrophes, and she commented that it was noteworthy how involved Field's was (the store and the man) in helping during a civic crisis. She also said that her publisher told her not to "bash" Macy's in the book, but put a blurb on the back highlighting the controversy!

On Monday, I blew off my Italian class to go hear Tim Gunn talk about his new book, Gunn's Golden Rules: Life's Little Lessons for Making it Work. This was at the Michigan Avenue Borders, and, boy, I think they are going to lose some customers over the way the event was organized, or, should I say, not organized. They were handing out wristbands starting at 9:00 a.m., with several different colors, only the first two of which got seats. But when people arrived, they lined up in order of arrival, so that when the first two colors were called to be seated, people dashed madly from all over. When the signing started, they gathered the various color groups in different parts of the store, but the employees who were doing so couldn't be heard, so people wandered about haphazardly. There was a huge long wait, but at least we had books to read!

Gunn, of course, was charming, an oasis of graciousness and calm amidst the chaos and confusion. He really must have been exhausted, because he was signing books for a good three hours or more, way past the time the store normally closes. It's nice to see someone on a show like Project Runway trying to raise the level of discourse and maintaining decent grammatical and vocabular standards. Besides, he collects architectural pop-ups, so he clearly has good taste.

On Thursday, it was Audrey Niffenegger at the Harold Washington Library Center, talking about her new graphic novel, The Night Bookmobile. Technical difficulties prevented her from showing the photographs that she took, from which the drawings were derived, but she read the short story which was the basis for the Guardian serial which was the basis for the book. This is the first installment of a work to be called The Library; I'm definitely looking forward to the rest.

Today I went to the 57th Street Children's Book Fair, and staffed the Friends of the Library table for a couple of hours. There were quite a few authors in evidence, but I didn't get any, though I was tempted by The Sixty-Eight Rooms, by Marianne Malone, about strange doings in the Art Institute of Chicago's Thorne Rooms.

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