Make that two somethings: The signing took place at Murder by the Book, and it was my second visit there. Ever. I spent a good chunk of change for a slim hardback copy of Melissa Ginsburg's Sunset City—which is technically a murder mystery, MbtB's stock in trade, but not the hard-boiled detective story associated with noir fiction. (Here's my review.)
What intrigued me enough to put this signing on my calendar? I attribute it to a bit of hype from the Houston Chronicle's Gray Matters section, where I was fortunate to get a contribution published last summer.
In addition, a non-inconsiderable envy on my part urged me to check it out. As a local writer, last summer I tried to arrange an book-signing for my new novel at my favorite independent book store in Houston, Brazos Books, right across Bissonnet Street from MbtB. I was rejected. Brazos doesn't want you if you're self-published or print-on-demand.
Ginsburg, who teaches writing at Ole Miss, has published two volumes of poetry, one of which is referred to as a "poetry chapbook." I'm not entirely comfortable with the jargon of literary marketing: I'm not fond of the oft-misused "post-modern," or worse "po-mo." Sunset City has earned a publishing-trade label as well: "literary noir." I do like the idea of taking noir fiction and dressing it up with imagery, symbolism, character development, and allusions; I wonder whether many fans of noir would agree with me though.
About 45 adults and one toddler showed up for the reading. The parking lot at MbtB was full. I got there a bit late, but managed to catch most of the chapter she read aloud. There was some light Q&A thereafter, and then the line-up for signatures began.
When I arrived the signing table, I took the liberty of giving Ginsburg a signed copy of Earthworm, saying something like, "I also have a book that uses Houston as a character, but...this is not it. I hope you'll accept this." She did accept it, seemingly appreciating the unexpected gesture.
Even if I can't sell my books, I know that I'm pretty good at giving them away. (No, that does not necessarily mean that I'll give you a signed copy; you'll have to earn it. The author of the best comment on this post gets one.)