We have an independent bookstore in town that packs a wallop in literary circles. Over the years, they have been able to get every major author to come to Kansas City and do a book signing. For the cost of a hardback book, you get two tickets to see the author and I've been to a few.
Here's some snippets...........
Anna Quindlen (I've seen her twice.)
She spoke of giving a commencement address and told her audience that they wouldn't remember anything she talked about as her speaker when she graduated was Margaret Mead, and all she wanted to do was get the ceremony over with and onto the parties afterwards. While sitting on stage as graduates came up to receive their diplomas, a girl passed her a note written in lipstick that said, "I'll remember everything you said."
After 60 rejections for "The Help", her publisher called to say they had a problem with the title. She had titled it "Help" and well, they really thought "The Help" sounded better. After a long pause she said, "I don't give a shit what you call it just get it in a bookstore." She is hilariously funny.
He is a Kansas City native, author of many books and columnist for the New Yorker. He wrote often of his wife and when she died published a book called "About Alice." A young woman wrote to him thanking him for all the times he wrote about the wife he so clearly loved and said, "When my boyfriend asked me to marry him I asked him if he would love me like you loved Alice."
The senator came to promote and sell his book "Faith Of My Fathers." It was packed and at the Q & A an elderly black man shuffled his way to the microphone and told him that he served in the Navy with his father. When the war was over he didn't have anywhere to go and so his father brought him to his home. "Your mother taught me how to read and helped me obtain my college degree. Since they're no longer alive, I've come here tonight to thank you. They were the finest people I've ever known." Everyone was rather stunned and then started applauding. John McCain began to cry, came off the stage and hugged him for a very long time.
Anne Lamott (I've seen her twice, too.)
She decided that she would wing it and not read from her book. After arriving at a mediocre turnout in New York for her latest book, she read a chapter to the audience and stumbled so much it was as if she had never seen the words before in her life. She went back to her hotel room and ate an entire cake that was sent to her from her publicist for her birthday and vowed not to read her words aloud for the rest of the tour.
He wrote "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" which is one of my favorite books. It is the true story of the sudden deaths of both his parents in a very short time leaving him to raise his younger brother at the age of 19. He made it up as he went. He came to town shortly before an election and noted that we may be polite in Kansas City but we know how to fight when it came to the size of the political signs posted in our yards.
I loved "Into Thin Air" and remember throwing more blankets on me because the way he writes of the bitter cold the climbers endured trying to get to the top of Everest felt so real. He did a power point presentation that was really good, plus he's a very smart guy.
There were a couple of talks that were bad enough to wish I'd stayed in that night..........
She wrote "The Happiness Project" and is native to Kansas City. She spoke to a packed audience and gave out tidbits for happiness such as.......make your bed every day, pick up after yourself, look out the window. It was one of the shortest talks I'd ever been to and when it was over the woman next to me said, "That's it? That's what I came here for? That was bizarre." Agreed. It took me longer to find a parking space and I never read the book.
The author of "Stones Into Schools" presented a power point presentation that was nearly identical to the one he did for "Three Cups of Tea." Every person that entered the talk was given an envelope to contribute to the Central Asia Institute and plenty of checks were being written for this charismatic man. A year later, it had become very questionable whether most of it actually happened, courtesy of some digging by Jon Krakauer.
If you ever have a chance to go to one of these DO NOT turn it down. I've gone when a friend has had an extra ticket and sometimes don't even know who the author is or what the book is about, but I always learn something.