Friday, April 06, 2007

An Evening With Christopher Buckley

Last night, Christopher Buckley, most well known for writing Thank You For Smoking, did a book signing at Politics and Prose book store. My mom, Judy, and I had seen him at the National Book Festival last fall, and he did a hilarious talk about naming your book, and how editors don't like your book's name and don't mind telling you, but who would have told Adolf Hitler that his book title sucked? It was a riot.

So when I saw he was coming to P&P, I told Judy, and she immediately decided we had to go, and I decided the General was going with us. I knew he'd enjoy it, as it was sure to be funny.

We arrived quite early, but soon they were setting up the seats. And immediately, this little old lady plucks two folding chairs from the chairs that had already been set up and plunks them smack dab front and center at the front of the podium. The P&P guy tells her she can't do that, but if she'll wait, they'll be set up shortly and she'll get a good seat. So she waits. They start setting up the seats in the front of the podium, and she puts her bags on one and tries to sit. Again the guy comes over and tells her she can't sit down yet.

"Oh? But I want to get a good seat. Every year I get a bad seat."

"Ma'am, I promise you, if you just wait patiently, but you're really in the way."

"I am?"

So the P&P guy concedes that she can leave her things on the chairs she wants if she moves. So she stakes out 2 seats.

Then she tries to sit down again, and the guy comes back. "Ma'am there are only six of you here at the moment, I assure you, you will have the pick of seats. But, please. you've got to get out of the way."

Finally they finish setting up and he tells her she can sit. The other 4 or 5 of us let her pick her seat, and then Judy, Michael, and I get front row, center. The lady's little old husband totters up and says, "I don't want to sit in the front row. Move back one." So they move to the row behind us. Then she starts complaining that the people in front of her are too tall. So they move behind me, Michael, and Judy. But it turns out we're too tall. So finally they move to the front row on the side, which seems acceptable to both of them.

The talk and signing were still an hour away. But we were cracking up. I wish I had captured that on tape.

Eventually the thing gets underway, and Christopher Buckley was great. I captured it on video and I'll upload it to YouTube soon and post it here. So funny. His new book sounds great. After the Q&A (which my sister actually got up the guts to finally participate in! Go Judy!), it was book signing time. And we were told to fold up our chairs, put them in a stack and get on line to have our books signed. Doesn't that little old lady decide she's "above the law" and slide smack dab in front of the first person on line!? Very bad book signing etiquette, I must say!

Judy went up and she and Buckley bonded over Salve Regina University/Portsmouth Abbey and then the General and I went and he complimented me on the pins on my jacket and he and the General got gabbing about working for the federal government (it had come out during the speech that the General was a fed). We were up there for probably about 3 minutes, which is pretty good, since lately the authors have signed the books and sent us on our way. We were able to get all our books personalized and have a nice chat.

So I'm officially a big fan, only though I've only read one of his books, Little Green Men, which I highly recommend (and which, in my opinion, blew Thank You For Smoking out of the water). I've got 3 of them to read now, and I'm looking forward to all of them. Plus, I'll definitely be stealing Judy's books as well! :-)

1 pearl(s) of wisdom:

Talmadge G. said...

The "little old lady" reminds me, in a way, of one of my co-workers - especially her cutting ahead in line. One is left to wonder if A) She's completely oblivious to even the most minor social decorum, or B) Using their position -- in her case, old age -- as a free pass for everything.

If I had a dollar for every "shoulda rolled camcorder on that" moment....

It's unfortunate that book signings have become so assembly-line. I suspect it's the "handlers" at work (see Paula Deen).

-TG