|Jeffrey Stayed Overtime to Sign This for Me|
There is this annual event in Washington, DC called The National Book Festival, which I have missed since its inception 11 years ago. I guess I was too busy going to my kids’ soccer and baseball games. But I finally went last weekend. It reminded me of the New Orleans Jazz Fest with a series of tents filled with stages and chairs. But instead of music, inside the tents were authors giving talks. And there wasn’t any crayfish etouffee, just food for thought. You could choose from History and Biography; Fiction and Mystery; Contemporary Life; Poetry and Prose; SciFi, Fantasy & Graphic Novels; and three other tents geared to teens, children and families, which I could pass on. My boys don’t enjoy reading. I blame their early exposure to the Internet and the wonderful world of video games. I wonder if 20 years from now the Book Festival will be greatly thinned out as the new generation of tiny byte readers comes to maturity. But this year, anyway, it was teeming with people who love reading and love books and want to hear authors and want to buy their books and have their books signed. You can’t get a YouTube clip signed, now can you? It was a nice, peaceful crowd, the kind of crowd where it seemed unlikely that anything dangerous would happen. Maybe I got this sense after the mention of the word “librarian” caused one audience to erupt in applause. All of this against the backdrop of the gorgeous Washington Mall…look one way you see the Capitol, the other way, the Washington Monument. Sadly, I have turned into the typical suburbanite who fails to capitalize on the beauty of our Nation’s Capital.
I rolled in to see Douglas Brinkley talking about his new book on Walter Cronkite; then bought a copy of The Marriage Plot and stood in line to get Jeffrey Eugenides to sign it. The line for his signing was very long. At five sharp, when his signing was supposed to end, I was the third of about 20 people left. The attendants in the line told us it was unlikely that he would get to us. Moments later we were told he would stay and sign everyone’s book. Jeffrey has a big loopy signature. I told him it was worth the wait. He told me it’s getting messier. I told you it was a nice crowd.