TaoD tour day 2
Friday was a drop-in at the Barnes and Noble on Steven’e2’80’99s Creek in San Jose, where inevitably no one had any idea that I was coming, but by lovely synchronicity the solitary cashier had just set aside her very own copy of The Art of Detection to buy, so she had me sign it. And as we stood there waiting for the manager to find the stray copies, she introduced me to one customer after another’e2’80’94and sold one book after another. Three books in five minutes, and we might have run through the entire stack if we’e2’80’99d been actors able to maintain the attitudes of happy surprise.
A new kind of author event: leaning with one elbow on the check-out counter. Try it, if you have a friend in book retail.
The evening event at Kepler’e2’80’99s was a very different matter. Successful, but another animal entirely. Chairs were set up, and occupied by fifty or sixty warm bodies (despite it being a Friday night with presumably much to offer in the way of entertainment in the Bay Area.) I told the Kepler’e2’80’99s staff how very happy I was to be there, and meant it’e2’80’94last year Kepler’e2’80’99s closed, just after its fiftieth anniversary, from the sorts of pressures felt by independent bookstores across the country. But the community wouldn’e2’80’99t have it, and pulled together to save this bookstore that began as a center of leftist politics and went on to form a part of the backbone of the Bay Area literary scene.
We love Kepler’e2’80’99s! Please buy a book from them!
And I had the kind of interesting questions you learn to expect from that sort of audience. This time, someone asked about my background in theology, in a way that had me talking about the letters I get from readers who read my novels in dire times and found ease. And I had to say, that this is a thing I would never have heard had I stayed an academic theologian. Comfort is a valuable resource, and if I can ease the grief of someone whose mother is dying or provide distraction for a person undergoing chemotherapy, my existence may be justified.
Or even provide an alternative universe for those of us driven to madness by modern life. Given traffic, cell phones, and the newspaper headlines, who among us wouldn’e2’80’99t rather be hunting for a clue on the Marin headlands with Sherlock Holmes?