One of the greatest sights I've seen so far on this cross-country book tour for Fobbit was when Joe C., a family friend I haven't seen in about 35 years, showed up for the reading in Seattle with a copy of the novel which looked like it had been through a war itself. The spine was creased and curved like it had been propped open face-down at many points as Joe made his way through the story. There was a dark grey scuff mark on the cover, as if it had fallen to the floor of a car and someone had accidentally stepped on it. I wouldn't be surprised if there were food stains on a few of the pages.
These are the signs of life every writer likes to see running like traffic through his or her book.
It's especially gratifying to me because Fobbit has only been on the streets for about five weeks (in Joe's case, it looked like it had literally been on the street). Nearly every other copy of the book has been in pristine condition, so it was nice to see proof that someone had actually read the book.
The second thing which delighted me at the October 4 reading at University Bookstore was the surprise appearance of my nephew Tyler. I hadn't seen him in years, so it was a nice treat to have him out there in the audience (along with several e-friends--Cat, Matt, and Jim--I was meeting for the first time). Tyler proudly serves in the U.S. Air Force. But I don't hold that against him.
|This is me, trying not to embarrass myself with fanboy love for Karl.|
I probably failed.
I was joined at the Seattle reading by fellow Grove/Atlantic author Karl Marlantes who had several nice things to say about Fobbit--all of which I promptly forgot due to the excited hum in my ears (yes, yes, I was experiencing a bit of fanboy euphoria sitting next to this writer I'd revered for years [Karl and I met for the first time the previous weekend when we were in South Dakota]). I'm a long-time admirer of his novel about Vietnam, Matterhorn, and I'm of the firm opinion that his second book, What It Is Like To Go To War, should be required reading for every member of the Armed Forces. (It occurs to me that I've probably said this before.....but hell, it bears repeating). Karl and I spent the better part of an hour discussing the impact war had on our lives as well as the different approaches we took to committing our experiences to the page.
My sincere thanks to Karl, Tyler, my e-friends, and Joe with his bruised and battered Fobbit for making it a tremendous evening.