Sunday, March 1, 2020

Tales from a Book Tour: Because who doesn't like Carol Shields?

On Wednesday night, I was scheduled to read with Wendy J. Fox at Boots Bakery, which is one of the main vegan coffee shops in Spokane (that also has a full bar and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner). It's also one of my favorite places, not only because of the architecture and how it reminds me of my hometown KZ diner, but also because it's one of the first coffee shops Jeremy and I would go to when we first moved to Spokane, although it was under different ownership and name then.  

I swam for an hour before the event because I was anxious. I'd never met Wendy. I'd never read at Boots. I rattled off a circular list of worries.

As agreed, I read from Hezada! and Wendy J. Fox read next. But she from her next book, a story collection out in 2021. I thought she'd read from her novel If the Ice Had Held, but I was wrong.

Then we stood together, taking questions or tossing them to each other like frisbees.
Narrative structure with multiple narrators. 
Rural versus urban living.
The composing process.
My fear of curated communities within cities.
Her surprise a condo-culture and snow-shoveling.

In the dwindling sounds that mean the event's ending, Wendy thanked people for coming, but then I suddenly remembered I wanted to ask her if she liked Carol Shields' writing. But instead of saving the question for a few minutes or decades later, I let the question fly while grabbing the microphone. 
- Her eyes confused. Yes, she said.
- Carol Shields, I repeated. 
- Yes, she said. Or, maybe she said, Yes, I like Carol Shields.
As though, of course. Because who doesn't like Carol Shields? 
- I knew it! I exclaimed, forgetting that I was at an author event and not the last scene of a detective show.

Should anyone allow me to revise this part of life, I would have said, with calmed composure and a steady breath--You know, Wendy J. Fox, while I read your novel, I kept thinking of Carol Shields. I really appreciate her work and the way she maneuvers through the lives and interiors of her stories. You seem similarly focused.

And then, because of the sophisticated elegance in which I said this, though it wasn't a question, she would naturally respond. Influences. Stories versus novels. Canadian writers. How much a story can say without saying.

But, nope. The event ended.People stood. People kept sitting. People left. People ordered another drink.  I hurried away from the microphone. Then wondered if I should go back. 

So, I remain unsure whether she does like Carol Shields or she agreed to like Carol Shields as a momentary safety precaution because I'd sounded as though I were accusing her of something. DO YOU LIKE CAROL SHIELDS?!

Other than that, the event went well, I think. Actually, I don't, but my friend Hannah said it went well, and she's trustworthy. 

Here's the only picture I took at the event: my cupcake and wine. 

My dinner at Boots Bakery
 Both were delicious.