12 March 2010
First, some photos from “the road” — McNally Jackson reading on Wednesday (thanks Jane and Tommy for pics):
Thanks to all who came out, and thanks again to Angela and Dustin for inviting me / making it happen. With any luck, we’ll have an mp3, and I can do some post-game analysis.
I’m processing all of this “being out there” — which really isn’t all that much exposure, just relatively so, for a homebody like me — but it’s all a little out-of-body, which is not how you want it to be, i.e. you want to be as present in the moment as you can. I’m learning that the little things can make a difference, e.g. I’ve started making sure that there will be a mic, because something about having to raise my voice makes the experience feel very un-me. I’ve also noticed that lighting matters — the dimmer the better, the easier for your audience to focus on the words and the story coming forth from your mouth into the space.
It’s a strange waiting period we’re in right now. Hoping for some reviews, a national publication would be super. We got bumped last Sunday from PARADE — a last minute switcheroo to Chang-rae Lee’s The Surrendered. What can I say. A deserving author and, from what I hear, a very deserving book. Still, one feels the injustice (who knows, really; but the thought crosses my mind) of “only one Korean American author at a time,” even if the novels are as different as any other two novels might be.
It’s also, weirdly, a kind of shock to realize that people are actually reading the book. ”Your book arrived, am reading now!” many have written. Uy. Really? Forgot about that part. The most gratifying reactions have been from those I know to be highly critical readers, who approach reading as a deep, and sometimes difficult, pleasure. Long for This World is not, it would seem, an “easy read”: shifting points of view, lots of characters (with Korean names) to remember, multiple story-lines which diverge and reconverge at different points in the book. But I’m happy to hear from readers who are not dismayed, but rather compelled, to journey with the characters to the other side, to convergence and resonance.
Rambling here… but thanks for reading, both here and LFTW. Am working now on a longish short story that is coming along; it feels good to take a serious ax to a first draft and really work at making it deeper and more whole. Note to self: do not write short stories on deadline anymore. The process is so much like writing a novel for me, it needs time and space and air.
6 March 2010
Sonya is a debut novelist, one I’ve been eager to get into our store for a while now. Her Long for This World is a powerful, political, story of a Korean-American family in turmoil. It’s the story of a return to the peninsula, and the struggle to place oneself. Reviewers are calling it graceful, assured and intricate, but you’ll forgive me for calling it, simply, good.
Fantastic bookstore, come for both the reading and the venue. A couple of months ago, I brought a fiction class to the store so we could look at literary journals/possible places to submit work, and talk a bit about publishing and bookselling — a book biz field trip. Friendly, passionate Dustin spent a half hour with us talking about bookselling, marketing, why an online retailer is simply no substitute for a neighborhood bookstore, and how independent bookstores support authors — in a human-to-human way — as Amazon never can. (It was also enlightening for all of us to learn that the displays in chain bookstores are purchased by publishers — this is called “co-op” — whereas the displays in independent bookstores are, by and large, curated lovingly by the staff. Same with the books which are positioned “face-out” on the shelves.)
Come out for the reading if you’re in town! We’re in the groove now, the Q&As are getting meaty and memorable…
McNally Jackson Books
Wednesday, March 10 @ 7pm
52 Prince Street, between Lafayette and Mulberry
*Fun update — a photo (thanks, Tommy!) of the window display. Sharing window space with my grad school mentor David Shields, who I interviewed at The Millions just a couple weeks ago!