Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Life's Highs and Lows, Compressed into a Tragic Day.

Yesterday was a day of emotional extremes. It was exciting to have a Pulitzer Prize in fiction again, and even more exciting that we'd hosted Adam Johnson for his novel The Orphan Master's Son, and that it was a really great event too, let alone a wonderful book with not one but several staff recs at Boswell (at least Jason and Conrad, in addition to myself). After a really strong sale in hardcover, I had been bemoaning a bit of a soft run in paperback. I think that trajectory has been corrected. Amie had noticed that for the past year, I had kept Mr. Johnson's kind note after our event on our office door. I knew I didn't file it for a reason.

Boswell has actually hosted two of the prize winners, as Ayad Akhtar won the drama award for his play "Disgraced," which Stacie had seen on a visit to Chicago and came back very enthusiastic. Akhtar didn't read from the play at Boswell, but from his novel, American Dervish, another book with multiple recommendations (in this case at least me and Mel, but I don't keep a complete checklist for these things).

And then of course there was the bombing at the Boston Marathon. I don't really understand what happened, except of course that it was an act of hate, and that we are shaken on several levels--empathy for the victims, a celebratory moment destroyed, not knowing how the degrees of separation will touch us, and of course as a reminder of our own fragility. I have several friends who work at the Boston Public Library--they were closed for Patriots Day, but they are both hard workers, and I worried.  I have one sister who's a runner (empathy) and another who lives outside of Boston (more).  Claudia recalled just being at the spot of the bombings last week. This of course brought back a memory of talking to my late father, who had similarly recalled to me having been being at the World Trade Center several days before those attacks.

It turned out our event last night was for Dan Schultz, whose written a book called Dead Run: The Murder of a Lawman and the Greatest Manhunt of the Modern American West. It is the story of three survivalists who, after a bloody killing spree in rural Colorado, were killed over the next few years by, well, who knows? They had a plot too, to blow up a dam, but in this case it was a failure. Though I've only read pieces of the book (can I admit here that I am reading as fast as I can, but I will never get everything I need to read finished?), but I am reminded a bit of the recent killings in Texas as well. They say that's a reason we read history--learn about the past to reflect on the present.

I think I'm going to wait until tomorrow to write about new releases. Our event schedule has a lot of unfinished business, and I should be working on an email newsletter as well. 

No comments: