Yesterday evening I did something that I seldom do: dropped in at a book-signing by a novelist.
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.
Ginsburg was born and mostly reared right here in Houston. She and I apparently have friends in common, and we probably frequented the same clubs back in the day. Her debut novel takes place in the Petro Metro. Doni Wilson's Gray Matters piece (digital subscription required) points out how Ginsburg not only uses Houston as a setting, but practically as a character in the story. I like to think the same of my own A Small Town for Its Size as having accomplished the same feat (just remember that this is the Houston of 1994-95).
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.)
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.