Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Jenny goes to the Big Apple and the Big BEA

While it was Mary Ann’s 20th BEA, it was my first. The remnant of a cramp in my left foot and a bag full of galleys and other freebies are the only reminders from an all too fleeting weekend in the Big Apple.

I got into the City late Friday night. My friend, Sean Crowley of Marshall Cavendish, was waiting for me at the Fung Wah – that’s right I took the Fung Wah – drop-off. After an even later dinner in Little Italy, we made the trek back to his apartment in the Bronx and to my surprise, it was nearly 2 AM.

I woke bright and early Saturday morning, excited to get to the convention center. I was eager to check out the scene myself because I heard so much about previous BEAs, and Sean filled me in on everything I missed on the first day. BEA turned out to be everything I expected and more. I didn’t have to work in the booth all day, so I was free to wander about as I so chose. I sat in on some sessions with new authors, looking for more good reads. I stopped by the Kane/Miller booth and chatted with Sondra, who I met at TLA. She handed me The Short and Incredibly Happy Life of Riley, and said I had to read it. Now, I have to buy it. It’s a funny picture book that compares the lives of Riley the Rat and Norman the Human.

With the likes of Ken Burns, Alan Alda, Khaled Hosseini, and Alan Greenspan walking around, there was one face I didn't expect to see: Dog the Bounty Hunter. I was so surprised by his presence that I felt compelled to take a picture sure that no one would believe me. The one signing I considered standing in line for was Stephen Colbert’s. The line was far too long, so I did the next best thing. I took a picture of myself with his cardboard doppelganger. Look how excited we are to see each other, just like old friends.

I tried to avoid the Charlesbridge booth for fear of crowding it, but my efforts were futile. It was like fighting gravity. I met with Lisa Greening of Left Bank Books, who has done wonderful things for the literary community in St. Louis, Missouri, including coordinating the Big Read Festival. Donna Bateman, author of Deep in the Swamp, will be there this year.

By the end of the day, my feet were aching. I looked forward to the bus ride back to Boston and all the new books I had to read.

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