I love book fairs like BEA09.
The first hour I always walk around like a happy idiot, enjoying the different stands, and the hustle and bustle of book sluts from around the world. The second hour I still like being there, I smile at strangers and admire their cleavage. The third hour I start getting sarcastic. The fourth hour I want to kill everybody.
Yes, BookExpo America (BEA09) is great and exhausting at the same time. There are too many self-help books for obese soccer moms. And everybody has an agenda, including me. I'm here to let people know about The Tsar's Dwarf (Hawthorne Books) and my fall tour. I'm meeting up with event managers, pretending to be less obnoxious than I am. But hey, there's a word for somebody like me. I'm networking. When I force the postcard of my book into the hands of innocent bystanders, I could be accused of assault, but no, I'm just networking.
However, the chance meetings are the most fascinating. When I'm enjoying an over prized cup of coffee ($3,25 drip coffee that tastes as if it just came out of some body's ass), a woman sits down next to me. She turns out to be a literary agent from New York with a fetish for Pontus The Penguin, an unknown Danish cartoon figure from my childhood. The agent's own name is pretty cartoonish, too. Renee Zuckerbroot. That means sugar bread in German. No wonder I like her, especially since she knows all the biggies in Danish literature: Hans Christian Andersen, Isak Dinesen, and Pontus The Penguin.
At the book fair everybody is wearing a badge. If you're blue, you're a book seller. If you're green you're a librarian. And if you're pink, you're a pedophile. I'm yellow, and my badge says Published Author which cracks me up. Why not Neurotic Novelist, Pornographic Poet or Scumbag With a Computer? When I ask My Favorite Book Seller from Utah why they use that term, she explains that last year the publishers were upset at the many unpublished authors who sneaked into this professional fair and shoved their manuscripts in their faces. So unpublished writers (with all their typos and misguided ambitions) are not allowed at the Expo. They'll be hung outside The Penguin stand, and Barnes & Nobles will fire the first shot.
John Irving is on the big stage talking about writing and play writing. He dabbles in both and loves going back and forth between Hollywood and the real world. "Have you noticed that all the great screenplays are adapted?" he asks. "That's because they're based on real writing."
Take that, Tinseltown.
John Irving is probably the most beloved American author in Denmark. He used to have the same Danish publisher as me, Lindhardt & Ringhof, but that shouldn't be held against him. Other American authors who are popular in my neck of the woods would be Paul Auster and Stephen King - literary twins if I ever heard of any.
I haven't read Irving for years, but I was quite fond of A Prayer for Owen Meany and The World According to Garp. Actually, everybody seems to like John Irving in Denmark, except for the literary snobs who love saying things like "the plot is dead". Oh my God, is it???? When did it leave us for That Plot Heaven In The Sky??? Did I miss its plotless funeral? Seriously, I think you have to be the proud owner of a PhD to utter things of such nonsense. "The plot is dead" is the equivalent of saying that "love is reactionary" or "porn models don't get herpes."
I'll be back with more Expo news if I survive the next few days. You never know because the fair takes place at 34th Street and 11. Avenue. Hey, I didn't even know there was an 11th Avenue on Manhattan. Talking about living a life in fiction ...
FROM DANISH ACCENT, http://fogtdal.blogspot.com
You can also follow my pathetic life on twitter. My name is danish_novelist.