Friday, June 19, 2009

Chuck Klosterman is Coming on June 25th--Are We Ready?

I get nervous before every event. Even though I agreed to host Monica Nuccarione on Friday (hey, that's tomorrow) for her biography Alexander Cartwright, at the last minute, it will still disappoint me if I don't get a decent turnout. Her sister Sabrina has been booking events for her, and has some contacts at SABR (Society of American Baseball Research). You may remember this organization being discussed in Ian Ayres' Super Crunchers, as being the Bill-James-inspired organization that wound up transforming baseball scouting. That said, I don't know how many SABR-ites there are in the Milwaukee area.

So you can only imagine how nervous I am about Chuck Klosterman coming next Thursday, June 25th. Scribner went to bat for us early in the tour process, and I believe this event was booked even before we opened. They have high expectations, and at this point in my store's life, we need to match or beat them. I have this terrible fear that we once hosted Klosterman at Schwartz and had a disappointing turnout. Have we done enough to pull another "Joe Meno", (Daniel-talk where we increase attendance over a previous event), only at ten times the scale.

Klosterman is best known for his columns, first in Spin, where he wrote from 2002 through 2006, and then in Esquire and well, a whole bunch of other places. He is best known for writing about pop culture and music (you've probably read his ex-girlfriends matched to members of Kiss piece in Killing Yourself to Live), but he's doing more sportswriting of late, as well as being a professor in...Germany? Here's a nice piece about him in the Boston Phoenix.

I'm about halfway through Downtown Owl and it's a Tom-Perotta-like delight. Four perspectives on very small town in North Dakota where everything is the same ("It's a down town, Owl" was the actual title reference), but not. I love the way he brings life to everyone with such grace and humor. I love his asides (the origins of everyone's nicknames for one) and the way he makes a character like the old coffee shop habitue Horace go from "When will this end?" to "When do I get to read about Horace again?" (Note after I finished the book--I was a bit blindsided. The book went in a different direction than I suspected!)

There are two other perspectives besides Horace's in the book--Mitch, a high school student bent on revenge against his English teacher Mr. Laidlaw, and Julia, a new and very young teacher from Milwaukee (more on that later*) who has found her newfound popularity a real life changer. I know all the characters are going to collide, the town is just to small for things to be otherwise, but they are currently in separate story arcs. I wish I wasn't working continuously so I could read? Thank goodness my bus ride is so long.

*It's so common to find characters from Milwaukee in books, but usually our city represents a homespun Midwestern place, not a hick-town by any means, but someplace substantially smaller than New York where the book is most likely taking place. In this case, Milwaukee is the big city--imagine that!

It's exciting to have a bigger author because there's a publicist involved. Kate's been working on several radio projects, and I'm hoping that an idea I had might lead to a print piece (I don't want to give it away in case it actually worked.)

We need a big turnout to get author's like Mr. Klosterman in the future. So if you're a fan, don't just show up, send this blog posting on to other fans.

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