It’s 4 in the morning, and I’m awake because I crashed early last night, because I was absolutely plumb tuckered out. The Decatur Book Festival chewed me up and spit me out like a… well, like a bit of fish bone on the edge of a plate, if fish bones were tired, and appreciative, and messy-haired, and named Laurel, and awake at obscene hours (okay, so maybe not a fish bone at all).
In any case…
On the first day of the festival, I got up early to drive Jeanne Birdsall and an old friend of hers around town. They were both lovely! After that, I taught a fun class in how plot can spring from character. In between the two I ran away from the festival and hung out with Marc Fitten over lunch, picked my boys up at school so I could bring them home for a snack, then dashed away again to meet the adorable Deb Ager for a drink/chat. In the evening, when this was all done, I ate too many garlic french fries with Jessica Handler and Joshilyn Jackson and some other nice people I hadn’t met before, and ended my (too late) evening with Janet Geddis and her wonderful Jim (I don’t know Jim’s last name) and Susan Rebecca White and Allen Deutschman at Cakes and Ale, which was a little too delicious and wine-full. I was supposed to go see Franzen, and I felt very bad for missing it, but garlic fries and a terribly long line at the event were obstacles I could not overcome.
Really, could you?
On the second day of the festival (which was really the first full day of the festival), I spent the morning with the amazing Joyce Maynard, whom I’ve known in the abstract for a long time (she gave me an essay for Half/LIfe). But until this week, we’d never met in person. Of course she was terrific and I wanted to kidnap her and bring her home to hang out, but that would have been odd, right? So instead I ran off and participated in a high-energy, overwhelmingly well-attended panel about social media with Jessica (see above) Collin Kelley, Karen Head and Jef Blocker. Awesome Atlanta folks! Ron Hogan came, which made me nervous because, really, what do I have to tell Ron about “social media?” After that Richard Nash (ditto) dropped in, and we wandered around together, and I think I hugged him four times because I knew he had to run away again and he’s on the short list of people I don’t get to see as often as I’d like. Sigh. Then I went and heard some good good poems, by Bruce Covey and a brilliant woman whose name I didn’t catch, but want a book by (who were you, lady with the bun and shorts?). Then I went home and wrestled with the kids and did some dishes, and kissed my husband, and rested, and swung by my young friend Ford’s birthday party (he’s six!) before heading to Feast (and here I really have to stop name-dropping, because there were just too many names at the party. It was CRAZY!) But the most important was that I got to squeeze both Deborah Wiles and Terra McVoy, who are actual friends, and not just famous writers who make me nervous. After that we trickled over to Twain’s, where I saw Jamie “wonderful” Allen and met some great folks, including Blake Butler, who I almost had a fight with, but then decided was smarter than me, and Lev Grossman, who ate a Reuben and was unintimidating because I didn’t know who he was at first. Also a hilarious and smart man with a beard, from McSweeney’s, whose name I didn’t catch, but it was one of those things where it became “too late” to ask him to repeat it. (please, bearded man, forgive me, and tell me your name!) Believe it or not, I went home sober after all that. I had to drive, and like, function, the next day, and stuff.
On the third day of the festival, I slept in and made French toast for my kids, because I felt guilty about how much I’d been gone the previous two days (and also because French toast is yummy). Then we goofed off for a few hours, and read the paper and drank coffee, because–you know, Sunday. After that, the kids and I (and my darling husband) went in to Decatur together, where we ate lunch and the boys saw some “boomtroopers” and the mysterious bearded man from McSweeney’s gave Lewis a BOOK (which is a special book that I will post about later)! Then I ran off to listen to the Reuben-eating Mr. Grossman, who knocked my socks off! (I might have to write a different post just to enumerate the precise ways in which my socks came off. Suffice it to say I will be reading the Magicians this week) Then I headed back to the Children’s Stage, where I had a “conversation” (on a stage, moderated and microphoned) with Jeanne Birdsall, about how writers strive to make magic real, and reality magical. It was scary and exciting and the crowd was wonderful. But my 11 year old fried Helen was there, so everyone else faded into the background (because I would HATE to disappoint Helen, whom I admire). Except Miss Birdsall did not fade into the background! She is a generous warm intelligent woman, and now I want to reread the Penderwicks. After I signed a lot (yay!) of books (though they had SOLD OUT of Baxter) and bumped into Ingrid Law, who is very sweet, and friendly, and has a nice laugh, I went with Joanna, my friend who keeps me sane, to a quiet place, to decompress, with a single sippin’ whiskey.
Also I bought a coat.
It is a very very nice coat.