“Every reader finds himself. The
writer’s work is merely a kind of
optical instrument that makes it
possible for the reader to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself.”
– Marcel Proust
I love books. I love the way they feel, the way they smell, the way they look. Mostly, I love that they make me laugh or cry. Or think.
There are books I’ve read for pure enjoyment. There are books that have, truly, changed my life.
And, truth be told, there are a few books I’ve read, then wondered why I wasted my time.
But I do love books. And how could I love books without admiring those who’ve given birth to them?
Ah, writers. I have a certain affinity for them. And when given the chance, I like to be around them.
When I was in college in Clinton, I’d hang out sometimes at the Jitney Jungle near Belhaven in Jackson.
I wasn’t shopping for produce. I was hoping for a glimpse of Eudora Welty and caught one. But only once.
I’ve had the good fortune to meet several writers through the years, mostly at booksignings hosted by some aesthetically pleasing, very cool independent book stores.
Oddly, at most of these signings, I was one of only a few stopping by for a book, a signature and an opportunity to “rub elbows” with a published author.
Now, I never showed up at a John Grisham signing back when he used to do them, but I understand folks lined up to meet him. And two weeks ago in Holly Springs, I heard Jan Karon, creator of the bestselling Mitford books, hold forth in Christ Episcopal Church. The pews were packed.
But what about the writers who might not be household names – yet – but who write wonderful books?
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Years ago in Vicksburg I dropped in at the only bookstore in town. Will Campbell was signing copies of one of his books. I’d planned to buy a book, get it signed and go. Instead, the author and I sat on a wicker settee and talked for two hours. One other person showed up.
Twice in the past few years I’ve visited with Sonny Brewer when he’s signed at Reed’s Gum Tree Bookstore. Both times only a handful of folks showed up.
Last year, when my college buddy Wyatt Waters showed up at Reed’s to sign a children’s book he’d illustrated, again, only a few folks came by to say hello.
Why folks who find wonderment in words don’t jump at the opportunity to chat with some first-class wordsmiths is way beyond me.
I recently took a class with about 30 other folks who hope someday to be published – or published again. I think it’s safe to say we all harbor a hankering to hold a pen and ink our names inside a book or two.
Hopefully, someone will show up.
“My task is, by the power of the
written word to make you hear,
to make you feel – it is, before all,
to make you see. That – and no
more – and it is everything.”
Contact Leslie Criss at firstname.lastname@example.org 678-1584.