The tired Sunday post

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Mother Nature and Junot Diaz

If you read my blog you’ll find Kevin’s Halloween costume funny (I hope); everyone else will just be baffled (especially because Kevin never remembered how to pronounce his last name). At the party last night, Kevin spent a lot of time explaining to everyone else who he was, and why. I spent a lot of time eating cheese and pickles and olives and cheese again. Wasn’t sure I’d make it into party-land standing, let alone wrapped in vines plucked off the side of our house, but a nap with the dogs on the couch gave me a couple more hours of stamina.

Yesterday was a Chapters day, and I enjoyed myself despite (because of?) spending five hours behind a table stacked with my books, smiling and waiting for people to approach. Thankfully, many friends turned up — for the hugs, right? One bought me a coffee and a protein box from Starbucks, which lasted all afternoon. And I sold a bunch of books, and not only to friends. I tried to tailor my pitch to whomever was approaching. Mention the setting? But offset it by adding, “It brings a child’s innocence to a politically-charged situation.” (Thanks to Charlene Diehl for the suggestion: I was riffing about pitch ideas on Facebook during the slower moments yesterday.) I also said that it was a good book club book, and I’d got strong and heartfelt responses from readers. I used vague phrases like: “mother-daughter relationships,” “family drama,” “memory.”

During a mid-afternoon lull, I had four back-to-back long conversations with people who apparently were just looking to chat and didn’t buy the book (that was a low point). I gave advice on how to get published. I declined free manuscript reading. One woman said she rarely reads in English (she is French), but that she felt extremely drawn to the book. She stayed for a long time, but never quite made the leap to purchase; I wondered whether I should have pushed her harder, but pushing is not really my forte. My inner-Menno recoils in horror at all this self-promotion. What if I’d said, “Maybe there’s a reason you’re being drawn to the book.” But I couldn’t, and didn’t. (But I’ll admit I wondered afterward: maybe there was a reason.)

A woman originally from Romania said she thought it would be too close to her own experiences to read, and apologetically walked away; but then changed her mind and came back all in a rush and bought it as a gift for a friend.

Mid-afternoon I posted on Facebook that no men had yet to buy my book, but lots of them were smiling at me. Of course, three minutes later a man bought the book. By the end of the afternoon, I figured about half the sales had been to men. Some were buying gifts for their wives. One had never met a writer, and complimented me on my author photo. He’s the one who had the best line of the day. After I’d signed the book for him, he said, “Damn, I should have had you write ‘Thanks for a wonderful night!’ so I could show it to my ex.”

See. I wouldn’t get any of this stuff if I’d stayed home instead.

This morning I listened to an interview with Junot Diaz (the real one) on YouTube — Kevin had found it while researching his costume. I guess this is one way to discover a new writer — be mistaken for him. It’s a very long interview, but if you’ve got time while kneading bread or doing dishes, listen in. I started around the 19th minute, where he’s talking about the book being an archaic medium because it moves at a human rhythm, not at the rhythm or speed of a machine; it’s archaic because we have been trained to become machines, and to forget that we are humans. He also said that to find something new, you have to first be lost.

I resonated with so many of the things he was saying, and I think other writers will too. (Be warned: he did use the F work often enough to interest Fooey, who was playing in the living-room. “It’s that word Mommy uses when she’s driving,” she said. Argh! I keep promising the kids I’ll stop swearing in the car, and I keep failing miserably. Just like a human or something.)

Come see me at Chapters today, starting at 11am
Obscure CanLit anxiety dreams

8 Comments

  1. Dear Carrie,

    Sorry I missed the book signing/promo yesterday. I was at Chapters way too early in the am and then had to head out. Is it still possible to get a signed copy? I am glad it went well. Sounds like a long day… I live in Elmira so I can swing by. Not sure how that would work for you 🙂 Congratulations! Libby

    Reply
    • Hi Libby,
      I’d love to sign your copy … I’ll be at a free event this coming weekend in Waterloo at the Wild Writers Festival. Saturday morning. I’ll post detailed info again on the blog soon.
      I may also try a book-signing table at the Coles in Conestoga Mall in the run-up to Christmas … if I’m really brave …

      Reply
    • I will try to get there in between dance class and hockey… you know how it goes. Let me know when it starts. Good luck again. Busy times. Libby

      Reply
    • Hi Libby, I’ll be at the festival from 9am onward, and my panel event is from 11:30 – 12:45. Maybe see you there?

      Reply
  2. I love the costumes! And the last paragraph of your post totally cracks me up. My daugher, when she was 3, totally shocked some friends of ours by saying casually “oh dammit” when the cheese slid off her pizza. I thought I chose more intense occasions to swear, seriously.

    Reply
    • Yes, CJ once slipped the F-bomb into casual conversation (luckily only with me!) while trying to pull on a pair of pants. He wasn’t particularly upset, just making an observation that had a little something extra in it. I explained that it wasn’t a word to be used, generally. But I was secretly pleased because he’d conjugated it correctly.

      Reply
  3. if it’s any consolation, my students loved the book. They had lots to say about it, and several chose to write essays on it. Topics: the child’s point of view, the allusions to children’s novels throughout the first part, the characteristics of political activists in the novel, the blending (or not) of political activism and parental responsibility in the parents. I’m afraid most of them disliked Gloria (the young are so judgmental).

    Reply
    • Thank you for sharing the book with your students! I’m curious — what ages do you teach?
      Gloria is one of my favourite characters, for whom I had a lot of sympathy while writing the book, but I do understand that she can elicit a negative response — complicated characters are like that.

      Reply

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