Through the Rearview Drunkenly, Part Four
A Brief Recapitulation of the Dramatic Events as They Transpired at AWP 2011
The sun rises sluggish and hazy, sluicing through the thick fog. I have a Lucero whiskey ballad in my head and it feels appropriate. We wander around the room for a while, not really packing but not really getting ready for panels, either. It’s sort of like a kid who doesn’t want to eat dinner and cuts his food into tiny pieces, shuffling it around the plate, avoiding. Caleb plays back some of the podcast from Bourbon. I check my email on his phone and feel like I’m in the future. I also want to meet Mel Bosworth in person, and not just to tell him that I insulted his hearlded Celtics only in jest (you can hear it on the podcast.) It also occurs to me that I should’ve taken more pictures so I don’t have to
steal utilize Brandon and Caleb’s photographic talents when I write up a recap.
I go across the street to get coffee and a muffin and run into Justin Sirois on the way. Judging by the size of his coffee and the sandpaper in his throat, the Literature Party was a success. If you’ve never seen the Understanding Campaign gig that he runs, I highly, highly suggest it. Part of me wishes we’d gone to the party, but the part that is still able to stand upright is glad we didn’t.
Back in the hotel, we gather our crap and head down to the book fair. I’m rather proud of myself. Prior years, I’d be weighed down with 15 pounds of books by the end of Day One. This year I give my back a rest and buy stuff on the last day. Milling around the bookfair, I add the following to my to-be-read shelf (and I still haven’t finished my haul from NoirCon in November):
-You Can Make Him Like You (Ben Tanzer)
-The Never Enders (Michael Sonbert)
-The Colony (Jillian Weise)
–Big Lucks #3 (Mark Cugini’s great mag I just discovered)
-The Wavering Knife (Brian Evenson)
-Baby Leg (Brian Evenson)
-In the Devil’s Territory (Kyle Minor)
-Ledfeather (Stephen Graham Jones)
-Rejection (Thomas K Matthews)
-The Jiri Chronicles and Other Fictions (Debra Di Blasi)
A lot of these I’d been meaning to buy for a while, or bought and lost or loaned out to never be returned, and it felt like a good time. I can’t find the Magic Helicopter Press table and order Less Shiny (Mary Miller) when I get home. Behind the Otherworld table, Brandon’s hocking books. I join him, hand out the free matchbooks from my novel and try to soak in the overwhelming atmosphere. It makes my head buzz at the moment, but I know the air will be depressingly still when I close my car door.
After an hour at the table, we say goodbye to Lynn and Eric and get lunch at a Mediterranean restaurant across the street, one I wish we’d found earlier. I eat an awesome shrimp gyro-type thing. Brandon has chicken tenders. Conversation is sparse, a few ideas for a panel proposal next year, some comments about what we’re working on and deadlines for those projects. Mostly, everyone is sunk inside their head, as is usual at this point.
We finish up and say goodbye before they ride the escalator down into the Metro station. I walk through the rain back to the bookfair to stop by a friend’s signing, only to find her flight cancelled three days prior. The bookfair proper is too daunting and I’ve already made my peace with it so I get into my car and start home. There’s nothing on the radio and my tape player is jacked up. I hit traffic coming out of the hotel, so I cut through neighborhoods to Calvert Street. At the intersection, there’s an anti-Mubarak demostration marching down Connecticut Avenue. People are chanting something I don’t understand, holding signs written in Arabic (I think) and English. Most of them are smiling, like they haven’t done something this fun in months. I catch a bit on the radio that says there is a protest march going all the way to the White House. I don’t know DC very well, but that seems like a pretty far walk, especially in the drizzle. They have flags wrapped around their shoulders instead of raincoats. Their country will keep them dry. I turn off the radio and watch.