Jun 08 2012
New York is a city of extremes. As soon as I arrived I remembered how it was possible to love and hate the city at once. “You either sink or swim here,” Pat Carrier of the former Globe Corner bookstore told me as he guided me through the labyrinth of publisher booths crammed inside the illogically (it seemed to me) laid out Javits Convention Center. I had come to NYC for two days of Book Expo America, beginning with an author breakfast with Stephen Colbert, Barbara Kingsolver, Junot Diaz, and Jo Nesbo, the last of whom, I thought, proved funnier than our host, who kept his punch lines to Fifty Shades of Grey jokes.
After coffee with Colbert (okay, it wasn’t quite as intimate as it sounds, and listening to Colbert crack Fifty Shades jokes over blueberry muffins wasn’t exactly an appetizing way to start the day), I stepped onto the exhibition floor full of publishers, authors, booksellers, librarians, and readers all conducting the business of books, which included much elbowing for the latest free advanced reader copy. I wandered disoriented among the chaos for quite some time, unsure of how exactly I fit between the world of swanky New York publishers and the woman in front of me who just jammed a display copy I am not certain was free into an already burgeoning shoulder bag of ARCs.
I felt exactly as I had when I first stumbled off my train from Boston the night before, weaving through Penn Station crowds and onto the metro–instantly overwhelmed, intimidated, and drained by the city. But when, 15 minutes later, I had emerged from the underground up onto a quiet, tree lined street in Greenwich Village, where I was lucky enough to find a room, I discovered that I could breathe again, and deeply. Perhaps it was the refreshing contrast from home, the thrill of new streets and shops to explore, perhaps it was the contrast with the crowds of the metro that made the sudden space and sunshine more charming than was their due, but I was enamored.
These extreme reactions continued at BEA, leaving me baffled at first, overwhelmed, then charmed and grateful at once. By the second day on the exhibition floor, I began to take a few faltering strokes. I found space to think and even to be inspired in a few of the educational sessions, and I began meeting people within the book industry, talking, exchanging cards. Once conversations began to open up, I began to see inside the work that was going on before my eyes. Though I had much to learn, I was no longer an outsider. Continue Reading »Read more: Barbara Kingsolver, BEA 2012, Book Expo America, Booksmith, Fernando Pessoa, Fifty Shades of Grey, General, Globe Corner, Jo Nesbo, Junot Diaz, News, serendipity, Stephen Colbert, the halapalooza of reading quietly in your room by yourself, Travel