It’s a close call to say which was the more delightful happening yesterday: getting to introduce Ann Patchett for her reading at Kepler’s last night, or opening the front door yesterday afternoon to a box of the paperbacks of The Language of Light. So please indulge me in short gushes about each, with a promise of a giveaway of both Ann’s lovely new novel, State of Wonder, and one of the copies of Language from my box before the post ends.
Can I say how absolutely delightful Ann is? I met her once before, in the fiction section of the now defunct Davis Kidd bookstore in Nashville, where she twisted my arm to come to a reading that night by a friend of hers, even though it was telescope night at my sons’ school. “Nobody comes to readings,” she said.
Well, that was NOT the case last night. We are talking dragging in the extra chairs, and a long signing line. A very warm and engaging – funny! – event, even though Ann had already done a Bookpassage event and an interview with Michael Krasny. She has written – in a wonderful piece called “My Life in Sales” – about the signing of books:
And then there’s this: if my house were burning down, the one thing I’d rush in to save would be my copy of The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty, which I had signed at the first author reading I ever attended, the year that I was 16 and the author was 70. I could discourse endlessly on why my books are in no way improved by my signature, and my words are just the same on the page whether or not I’ve read them aloud. And while I know better than anyone that I am no Eudora Welty, I know how profoundly I was shaken to see her, how I felt that my book had been transformed by the touch of her hands.”
Count me among the many there last night who were profoundly shaken to have her there.
So the box of books. I don’t know what to say about this except that The Language of Light was my first novel, and it made such a quite little plink in the literary pool with its original publisher that it was unclear my literary life could survive it. But years later my editor at Ballantine read it, and she asked others at Random House to read it, and the end result is – eight years after the hardcover was published! – this lovely box of paperbacks. The books have “Random House Reader’s Circle” on the cover, their special seal of approval, and it has been chosen by Target as an “Emerging Author” book.
For anyone who read the hardcover, this version is slightly different: the ending has been restored to the version that was named a finalist for Barbara Kingsolver’s Bellwether Prize, a kindness my editor allowed me for which I will be forever grateful.
It goes on sale Tuesday, June 28, and for anyone in the Bay Area, we are celebrating with a reception – not a reading but just a chance for me to pour you a thank-you-for-your-support glass of wine. We’ll also have there some of my friend Adrienne Defendi’s beautiful photographs. Books Inc. Palo Alto at 7:00. Please do come!
So in my excitement last night, I accidentally left my copy of State of Wonder at home. And I did so want to have a signed copy, so I bought another at the store.
With apologies that the State of Wonder isn’t signed (my signed copy is personalized, and also transformed by her touch, so I’m unwilling to give it up!), do enter to win it and an inscribed copy of The Language of Light by leaving a comment below and “liking” my facebook author page. I’ll draw a winner on Monday, June 27.
And thank you for indulging me in this gush! – Meg