Thursday, December 19, 2019
December 19, 2019: Book Talk Recaps: Scuppernong Books
[Since I’ve been on sabbatical this Fall, in place of my usual semester recaps series I’ll be recapping some of the many book talks I’ve gotten to deliver over the last few months. Leading up to a special weekend post on what’s next for We the People!]
On three great elements—two expected and one surprising—from my most recent bookstore talk.
1) Compelling, Contemporary Conversation: As this week’s series has illustrated, my book talks have consistently featured great audiences who have offered really thoughtful and thought-provoking responses and questions in the post-talk Q&As. I’d love to take all the credit for that; but while I think it’s certainly related to my book, I don’t think it’s due to my own presentation so much as to the ways in which this projects taps into the zeitgeist of our moment and into so many of the questions and themes that are on all of our minds these days. I felt that particularly acutely at Scuppernong—the T-word never came up, and yet our conversation focused fully and potently on what these histories and stories help us understand, engage, resist, analyze, strive for in late 2019.
2) An Inspiring Indie Bookstore: Unlike Toadstool Books, the site of my prior bookstore booktalk, I had never been inside Greensboro’s Scuppernong Books before the evening of my talk there. I could tell from the store’s website that it was one of those unique and wonderful indie bookstores in which I could spend hours finding unexpected gems (while drinking coffee and/or beer from their bar), and that was all very much the case. But as I did some of that browsing ahead of my talk, I learned a lot more about Scuppernong’s incredible history of events and series, including (among many others) a year dedicated to the works and life of James Baldwin. Made me feel honored to be giving a talk there, and determined to support the existence and success of such inspiring indie bookstores (which, it seems from recent stories at least, are thankfully making a comeback).
3) Steve!: Those two things I could have predicted, at least in general ways; but I honestly had no idea what it would mean to get to give a talk with my oldest friend in the audience (he lives in the area and his wife Jenn was the contact who made the talk possible). To quote what I wrote about the experience on Facebook: “Man, the feeling of giving a book talk with your oldest and dearest friend in the audience. I can only parallel it to my April talk with the boys there: all my identities and lives and loves coming together, to remind me of what’s best in life. Sorry, Conan, but this is what’s best in life. Feeling whole, like my young self and my current one, like a full circle arc.” Says it all, I think—and one more reason I’m so grateful for this sabbatical’s worth of booktalks!
Last talk recap tomorrow,
PS. Ideas for other places I could talk or write about We the People? Lemme know, and thanks!