Earlier this week, I spoke of heading over to the Booksmith on Haight Street because novelist Peter Orner had a Wednesday night reading there. You don't exactly have to twist my arm to get me over to the Booksmith, where everybody knows your name, and you're greeted like Norm every time you walk in the door. (Do my references date me?) And independent of my own interest, my BFF Jon called and said, "Have you heard about a reading by Peter Orner..." So, it was decided.
I left work a little earlier than usual, and arrived at the bookstore about half an hour before the event. The first person I saw upon entering the store was the charming and delightful Andrew Sean Greer. I said "hi" to Andy, and we chatted for a moment before another gentleman approached him and I drifted off. The staff were still setting up chairs--a lot of chairs--and then setting up setting up tables with beer and wine and food and sweets. I hadn't realized until then that the event I was attending was the official launch party for Love and Shame and Love, and the Booksmith was really making an event of it.
Jon arrived as they were setting the final chairs, and we grabbed seats front and center in the first row. I was enjoying chatting with Jon and the store staff and owners. One of them, Christin, introduced me to the gentleman who had been talking to Andy Greer earlier. His name is Evan Karp of the excellent Litseen website (along with several other media outlets in the city). He was super friendly, and it was a pleasure to meet him. I'm only shocked that we'd never met before.
There's one thing I'll say about the San Francisco literary scene--they support their own. It seemed like every writer in the city attended Peter's book launch. The place was packed! As always, it was fun people-watching. I haven't read the novel yet--though that may be rectified over the weekend--but it's getting raves everywhere. Nor had I ever met Peter Orner or heard him speak before, but both Jon and I found him delightful. His personality comes right through on the video below, and he's kind of adorable.
After the reading and Q & A, Jon and I snarfed some food, and chatted with people we knew and people we didn't. I found myself talking yet again to the ubiquitous Danny Handler (AKA Lemony Snicket). When I commented that he's at the Booksmith every time I come there, he made jokes about being held hostage. He said, "They treat me very well." So, the Stockholm syndrome has kicked in. Jon bought a gift book for a friend, and I finally got into the lengthy signing line. I had a really pleasant chat with Peter when I got to the front of the line. I apologized for sticking a Flipcam in his face as he was reading, and handed him my blogger card, explaining that I would post the video on Friday. Peter said very kind things about the role of book bloggers in this day and age, and when he signed my copy of the book, he wrote, "With thanks for the work that you do!" What a mensch.
The first segment below is a warm introduction from novelist Tom Barbash. As Mr. Barbash points out, Love and Shame and Love has been awarded the trifecta of starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus, and Booklist. And guess what? If you want a signed, first edition of this novel, I know a great independent bookseller where you can get one. Other than that, I'm just delighted to share footage from a really enjoyable evening with you...