Sunday, April 29, 2007

I Used to Stalk Authors

The latest Whoreticulture post includes a photo of a signed copy of An Inconvenient Truth. Since my blog is a wholesale ripoff of Chuck's blog, I thought I'd show off some books that I had autographed when I was young and had nothing better to do than stalk famous authors and get their autographs (which is actually a pretty easy thing to do when you're a teenage girl).

I was a teen and had crappy taste in some things, OK?

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This one was much later, actually. I've always appreciated what a brilliant, incisive writer she is, but I met her with a friend this day, and I was struck by what a classy dame she is. She's now into a second stage of fame in which she's celebrated for her grief, but this was before all that, and at the moment that she signed my book, I was struck by her beautifully slender form and magnificent clothing.

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She's from Portland.

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Here's a cool one. I demanded that my boyfriend at the time get this one for me when I knew he wouuld have the chance.

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Hmm. Dave Eggers didn't sign the title page. This is A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which I still haven't read. The reading was sold out, but I saw some guy I recognized, and he was going to sneak in with the help of an employee friend, and he invited me to tag along. At the end of his reading, he asked for questions from the audience, and people were asking him these ridiculous questions, like "Where do you get your ideas from?" and "Do you write with a pen or a pencil?" so I decided I was going to ask him the most non-sequitur thing I could think of, which, at the time, was: "Have you ever eaten out of a dumpster?" (My second choice would have been "Have you ever had head lice?") He disappointed me by saying no, then asked the question back to me. I said yes, then he asked me to come to the podium and explain. It's really a boring story; I didn't realize at the time that the doughnut had been scavenged. But that's what the inscription's about.

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This one's my husband's book (I don't even want to know what the inscription's about), which he got signed after a long night of eating a bunch of weird regional chocolates at the house of this author, who also wrote Candy Freak.

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This was sweet. And this was years and years ago. She gave me a first-edition copy of this book, which was nominated for the National Book Award. We had a great talk that covered the Kennedy assassination, cults of magazine subscription solicitors, the similarities between Dublin and Portland, circus freaks, genetic manipulation, the creative genius of Stephen King, and her still-upcoming (?) book, Cut Man. As a nod to this novel's subject matter, some pranksters at Knopf put a fifth leg on the logo dog on the spine of this book jacket in the original edition. Apparently the marketing department freaked out when they found out, so subsequent editions don't have it.

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This is a favorite of mine. I remember I stopped by this bookstore to try to get his autograph on my way to see the opera The Pearl Fishers with my English teacher. God, I was a weird teenager. I wasn't popular and by this time I had largely decided that I didn't care. This was the time that I cared about big things, few of which had anything to do with my high school. I went to lectures by authors like Kurt Vonnegut and John Updike, I hung out at Powells all the time, I went to the Rocky Horror Picture Show every Saturday night, I became good friends with a gay guy, I worked at an ancient movie theater that was plagued with petty crime and large rodents, I took college courses during summer vacations, I assumed that every American city was as weird and wonderful as Portland, I only wanted to go to UC Berkeley, I volunteered for the Michael Dukakis campaign, and I sometimes snuck wine coolers into my AP physics class after lunch. The world held so much goddamn promise, it's bittersweet to think back on it today.

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4 comments:

chuck b. said...

Ok, Dave Eggars, bleh, but otherwise, WOW! Really mind-blowing. Who's next on your list.

Portland is groovy. I have some weird McMeniman's (sp?) story to tell, but I can't remember what it is right now (still drunk).

Clan of the Cave Bear was my freshman year of high school. That's when I read it anyhow. No memory of it whatsoever. Except there was a movie with...Darryl Hannah? I don't remember that either.

JvA said...

I don't collect authors' autographs anymore. Not even when I have the chance, like I've had recently for Gore Vidal (!), Ian McEwan, and Jonathan Lethem. Hell, I don't even remember to ask my friends to sign their books for me when they're published. At this point, I would wait in line for Philip Roth (who would never sign autographs for a line of people anyway), but possibly no one else. It's too embarrassing or something.

As for Dave Eggers, I will never cease to be thankful that his magazine bankrolled an excellent trip to New York City for me a couple years back. I took those old McSweeney's I'd had lying around and sold them on eBay for like $100 each. Yay!

JvA said...

Oh, yeah, and one time James Ellroy (a very tall man) kind of hit on me, and I didn't even bother to parlay that into an autographed LA Confidential or Black Dahlia or My Dark Places. That was dumb of me!

chuck b. said...

I think the only book I have autographed is Amy Stewart's Flower Confidential. I had a signed copy of Lynda Barry's Cruddy, but I bought it that way and I never read it and I don't know where it is anymore.