There aren’t many things that will make me willingly leave camp in the summer (or leave Oxford County, Maine at any time of the year, for that matter), but when my best friend told me she had scored a pair of tickets to hear David Sedaris at her local bookstore, I didn’t hesitate to say, “Ooh—pick me! Pick me!”
Sedaris, whose popularity means he could fill an auditorium every night if he wanted to, is currently on a month-long tour of independent bookstores like the tiny RiverRun Bookstore in downtown Portsmouth, NH, which was filled to capacity by the standing-room crowd of 60 or 70 people. He’s promoting his most recent release (Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls), signing his books, and connecting with audiences in a way that wouldn’t be possible in larger venues.
Sedaris is every bit as funny in person as he is on NPR. After he apologized for being late (his hotel room wasn’t ready when he arrived to check in), he read from some of his new work (“I like to try it out on audiences before I send it to my editor”) and took questions from the audience.
Before he moved to the back of the store to sign copies of his books, he recommended and read from books by two other authors, and told us anyone who bought one of their books could go to the front of the line. It was a great way to boost sales for those writers, and for RiverRun.
While everyone who had gotten tickets to the reading had their books signed, a crowd was lining up on the street outside for the next wave of signings. Sedaris seemed in no hurry to get through it quickly, chatting and joking with each person in line. Two hours later, according to RiverRun’s Facebook page, he was still at it. Not surprising—when he signed my book, he mentioned that the night before, at the Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge, he signed books for over eight hours.
Thanks to the great folks at RiverRun for a wonderful event, and thanks to David Sedaris for understanding so well the importance of independent bookstores.
(I’m there in the photo, peering over the left shoulder of a really tall guy with glasses.)