Each author was assigned a kind helper and a dedicated table at which to sign:
It was at this table where I signed the smallest book I've ever signed, perhaps one of the smallest I've ever seen. And I was told this is volume 9:
We were also assigned a 30-minute speaking slot. Mine was at 4:30 p.m.—last of the day—so I feared a small audience, but the turnout was a pleasant surprise. It really shouldn’t surprise me. After all, I’m just the opening act for Superman.
The UConn Co-op bookstore asked me to sign an ambitious stack of books...
...most of which I did actually write.
The authors attended a lovely reception and dinner in a most authorly of settings—the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. Literally right in the middle of it, amidst books and exhibits and other things that don’t mix well with red wine (if it’s spilled, that is).
Between the reception and dinner, we were treated to a tour of the storage facility. The Dodd Center is an archive of invaluable materials including original art and documents of children’s book authors and illustrators. We got a look at some pioneering (and now well protected) art by Richard Scarry:
Onlookers include authors Hans Wilhelm and Lois Lowry.
We also heard something that astounded, seemingly, the whole group. A person owns any correspondence he receives, but he may not reproduce it without permission. In other words, he owns the actual physical papers but not the words on them. So an author may freely donate letters from his editor to the Dodd Center but would have to get approval to publish them.
The book fair didn’t resume until 10 a.m. the following morning, but many of the authors saw each earlier than that.
The hotel in which many of us stayed had a fire drill at 2:15 a.m. It was the first time I’ve seen other authors in pajamas.
We spilled out in the chilly, drizzly night, and once it seemed clear that it was not a life-threatening emergency, photos were taken (the following ones courtesy of Diane deGroat):
Here's my back:
Here are some of us after we were cleared to go into the bar but not yet back to our rooms:
The next day, I spoke at a Massachusetts school for the first time:
That evening, I spoke at my alma matter, Brandeis University, for the first time (as an alum). I was one of two graduates on a “Meet the Majors” panel. I told the students that if they are interested in
- hanging out with people in aprons
- signing large stacks of books
- signing potentially no books
- speaking to people who like books
- speaking to potentially only one or two people who may or may not like books
- eating in non-cafeteria academic settings
- touring temperature-controlled repositories
- evacuating hotels for dead-of-night alarms
then American Studies may be right for them.