Mumble Herder

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I don't think I've slept in about three weeks. Perhaps tonight.

The plan was to sleep in today, but I was lying awake when Gavin called me to say he had an extra badge for the BEA, so I dragged my ass down there. First time; it was a bit overwhelming. Saw Dave Barry escaping as I was on my way in, Amy Tan signing audiobooks--something about that struck me as odd. Down one row there's a sales rep barking "Chapter books, 8 to 12!" while waving the cover in my face, down another a very polite man offered me a bookmark "All the way from Australia." Wandered into the Harlequin booth and thought I'd never find my way through the crowd. Marveled at the diversity of populations who are in dire need of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Dropped $11 on a turkey sandwich and a bottle of water.

Second coolest thing (I could tell you the coolest thing, but then I'd have to kill you): a talk by Art Spiegelman about his upcoming collection In the Shadow of No Towers. He gave a presentation about the early twentieth-century comic strips that he turned to for solace after 9/11 and used as touchstones for his work about the attacks and their aftermath. He also stuck around for quite a while signing some beautiful oversized publicity pieces, one side with a title page, the other with one of the strips. Very nice.

After Gavin and Kelly decided to close the booth we drove to a Small Press party with Eric and Kelly of Rain Taxi, who are very nice. We ate and had a bit o' wine, then I dropped them back at the hotel and called it a night.

I made off with quite a haul, including Maisie Dobbs, the new T.C. Boyle, a collection called Gothic! from Candlewick Press, Scott Westerfeld's So Yesterday, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (highly recommended by Kelly), Sean Stewart's Perfect Circle (which completes my Small Beer collection, at least of the trade paperbacks), and a pile of other things that looked like they didn't suck.

I was also witness to the genesis of perhaps the first morbid Ronald Reagan joke--hence the title of this entry. None of us knew he had died until the Small Press party. Kelly said to someone (who was introduced to me, but whose name I have sadly but characteristically forgotten), "Did you know Ronald Reagan died?" to which the worthy replied, "No. But then, neither did he."

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