Book Expo America--the annual circus of publishers, booksellers, authors and readers--buzzed through the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City last week, leaving behind the debris of crumpled nametags, torn bookbags, shoe-scuffed and floor-grimed Advance Reading Copies of less-popular Fall titles, and dried pools of blood near booths where publicists were handing out the more-popular ARCs.
At least I think that's what it looks like. I wouldn't know. I wasn't there. (Cue the pity party.) But fellow Montana author Malcolm Brooks was there for most of the action and he was kind enough to share his experiences.
Painted Horses (look for it this August), was one of the popular buzzed-about books of this year's BEA (one of those responsible for the blood-letting)--and rightly so. I was fortunate to get an advance copy of the novel four months ago (no blood spilled in doing so), and I think Painted Horses will be topping several year-end best-of lists (including mine here at The Quivering Pen). In a nutshell, it's about a young archaeologist, Catherine Lemay, who is sent to Montana in the 1950s to determine whether or not a dam project will destroy sacred sites in a remote canyon. Once there, she meets an enigmatic cowboy named John H. who is living a fugitive life in the canyon. Together, the two race to save the canyon from being flooded by men bent only on industrial progress. It's a terrific book which will appeal to anyone who likes Wallage Stegner, Jim Harrison, or just damn fine writing.
Here's Malcolm's report from BEA:
In all honesty, I’d never heard of BEA until five months before my publisher, Morgan Entrekin, pegged me to appear at this year’s event. I’m not sure how this can possibly be when I consider the importance of books in my life over the past four decades, but then again maybe it’s for the best in regards to the linchpin of the whole shebang, which is of course words on the page and the process of getting them there.
I think every hopeful writer has some notion, even in the isolation of obscurity, that there are in fact multitudes out there grasping for the same brass ring. If Book Expo America demonstrated anything, it’s how utterly naïve my own understanding of this actually was. I’m sure I appeared disoriented if not actually shell-shocked not far along into the first day. When I took early refuge in a chair in the Grove Atlantic booth, Morgan asked how I was feeling.
“Like a grain of sand on a very large beach.”
He grinned in what I took to be complete agreement.
|Trapped inside the Javitz|
|Barbara Theroux of Fact & Fiction Books, Malcolm Brooks' hometown bookstore,|
stops by his signing table at BEA
If this all seems like a real blur, it was, and not because of the cocktail parties although there were certainly plenty of those, ranging from People magazine’s rooftop soiree to 20th-century Fox’s below-ground bash in what was apparently a 19th-century opium den. But even minus these, the exposition itself had this kaleidoscopic vastness that still has me a little dazed even five days later. It’s a lot to take in, and a supreme juxtaposition with the long process of word after word on a page by myself in as much quiet as I could wrangle for as many years as it took to arrive there.
Meanwhile I found myself encountering people who already knew about my novel, had already read it, two months in advance of its launch. I found I already have what would have to qualify as fans, readers who love words and stories and ideas enough to dedicate their working lives to some part of the world of books, the great beach of books, and somehow in all that vastness they found me, and liked what they found. I don’t know how I got so lucky.