07 June 2003

Very excellent day at the Printer's Row book fair, despite the fact that I never once saw Amy the Browncoat :(

Started early. Was up, out of bed, dressed and our of he house by 8:30am. Grabbed a cab downtown, and managed, being me, to go to the Harold Washington University instead of the Harold Washington Library. Walked over in about 15 minutes, though, and arrived just at 9am as they were opening the doors. Coincidentally, walked most of the way just ahead of Molly and her friends Lainey and Nicole, and gave them directions at on point. More on that in a bit.

Got inside and discovered that no, no tickets required. Went to the lobby and called Debbie to tell her so, and while chatting on phone, saw the Lexcorp patch on Molly's bookbag, and said "Cool Lexcorp patch!" at which point Molly said "Tara?" and there was much screaming and hugging. Molly saved me a seat dead centre front row, while I wandered off to get breakfast at the restaurant in the Fine Arts Building. FYI, the Pierre at the restaurant? Excellent, and the staff was lovely. Walked back by 9:45am, and maure and her sister Less were there as well, and we were quickly joined by Debbie (of DebbieandChris fame) and her friend Jason.

The first speaker at 10am, before neil, was a local author named Richard Peck. I am now madly in love with his work, and bought Fair Weather, a novel he had read the first chapter of which is the story of a family from downstate Illinois who go up to Chicago for the 1893 World's Fair. A former English teacher with 30 novels under his belt, he's a phenomenally entertaining speaker and has a very Mark Twain air to him.

After Peck, dashed upstairs to find that Mary was waiting up there for folks. Everyone got seated, and unca neil came out. He read The Wolves in the Walls (and at one point, punctuated the reading with "There's an amazing two page illustration of the wolves coming out of the walls by Dave McKean here which none of you can see because it's too small and you're too far away.") and a marvelous poem called "Inventing Aladdin" which is in the new Windling/Datlow fairy tale anthology coming out, which may or may not be Swan Sister as neil couldn't actually remember the title and that's the only forthcoming book which matches that description. He finished up with "Crazy Hair," a poem he wrote years ago while on a trip to Florida, when he woke up in the humidity looking as if he had been attacked during the night by a team of insane hairdressers who had given him half a perm, and when he emailed daughter Maddy to tell her this, she responded with an email "Dear Mr. Crazy Hair." It's wonderful poem--very Silverstein-y and Suess-y at the same time, and Dave McKean foolishly believes he will have illustrated it by January or so I believe. Dave, if anyone is curious, is one week into directing The Mirror Mask in the UK.

Afterwards, there was a signing. I attacked Jill Thompson with hugs, and then the Unusual Suspects and various other folks went to the back of the line and hung about. Once we got up close, Maddy absconded with Maure and Less (I was summarily ditched) to play hide-and-seek and many games of her own devising with rules that seemed to be designed mostly to ensure that Maddy Always Wins. Being a total dork, I forgot to bring my Scarlet's Walk tour programme with the neil story in it with me to get signed, so instead, had Debbie take a snap of us with my Elph digital camera which I shall uplaod Monday when I get to work.

(for the record, unca neil said somewhat immediately very complimentary things about the short blue hair, and then asked, in every neil fashion "And have you suddenly lost an enormous amount of weight?" thus proving maure right and me wrong in the "neil's a boy; it's entirely possible he would not notice" versus the "neil's an author and notices everything" poll). He then gave me a cookie, and signed for the last few stragglers, while Maddy attempted to kill maure by making her run all around the Harold Washington Library.

Cell phone numbers were exchanged, as he said he wasn't sure what the Book Fair folks needed him to do. I stashed my backpack in maure's car, and she, Less and I had a very entertaining lunch at Taco Hell across from amilyn's school before rendezvousing with the other Suspects at the street fair itself.

Rather than staring at my cellphone all day, waiting for a call, maure showed tremendous chutzpah and called unca neil to ask what the heck he was up to. Turns out, he had us meet him at his hotel (which, coincidentally, was across the street from where he was sitting) and as an enormous group we wandered the faire, members of our party magically appearing and disappearing (Debbie was rejoined--to her surprise, one day early--by Chris, in his 8th grade graduation suit and old sneakers. Alia went home with her nephew.) as we went.

I had set myself a three book limit, and I am glad to say that I stuck to it--with fantastic results. Picked up Fair Weather from the Women & Children First bookstall, and drooled all day over a Milton's Paradise Lost illustrated by Gustav Dore before I bargained the seller down by $8, thus justifying the purchase. And I then squeeeeed all day, because the book is from 1888! The people who originally owned it are dead! They've been dead for a very long time! The book is older than I'm pretty sure anything I have ever owned, with the possible exception of some of my Auntie Lily's things. Lastly, I picked up a book of American Folklore which looks to be fascinating reading.

unca neil was searching for books on the golden age of radio and Jack Benny for something he is writing, and relied on Mary to talk him out of buying stuff he didn't need. She was, however, absent when he found the first printing of the Modesty Blaise novel for $6--but as she then informed him that she would have demanded he buy it, all was right with the world. Molly got off work round about the time we all sat down for coffee to chat, and a rousing discussion of phonics. unca neil was having dinner with Gene Wolfe and his wife Rosemary off in the suburbs, and so there were hugs exchanged and maure, less and I went off with neil and Maddy to drive them to dinner (resulting in an amusing moment when Maddy continued the hide-and-seek game in the parking garage which resulted in her having two black hands, a fact which was then rectified with my happening to have a Moist Towelette in my pocket and being more than willing to let her wipe her hands on my jeans) and after a drive which involved car games which I, for the record, SUCK at, hugs were once again exchanged before we set off for home.

Came home to Sean Maher headshot I'd gotten in the post, which I must needs scan for shiny, and I am now watching The Browning Version on BBC America with my dad, who is watching from home in Florida, and calling me at every commercial break so we can rave about how fucking cool Albert Finney is.

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