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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Literary Gathering, Northport Style

Bonnie Jo Campbell, Flannery O'Connor, & Joyce Carol Oates

Some days, everything seems to go right, just when you've worried the most. I mean, start with a rainy, cold morning with an author event scheduled for noon. In the middle of the week. In the fall. Did I mention rain? What if the rain kept up? What if only two or three people came for the reading?

Then skies clear to cloudless blue, the author arrives, and a crowd assembles. The visiting author – Bonnie Jo Campbell, in Northport for her third time at Dog Ears Books -- is frank, funny, honest, and engaging, and the audience is enthralled without being intimidated. There are questions and lively conversation. People buy books and have Bonnie sign them. Lots of pictures are taken with big cutout figures of Flannery O’Connor and Joyce Carol Oates, two authors near and dear to Campbell’s literary heart. Contagious smiles and laughter fill the air.

Nick & Kelsey
In the middle of everything else, a couple married just last Saturday and honeymooning on Spider Lake near Traverse City finds their way into the bookstore. She works at Literati in Ann Arbor. They were touring M-22 and could not pass by Dog Ears Books. A bookstore honeymoon! Plus, for the bride, a fortuitous meeting with author Bonnie Jo Campbell, who will be at Literati Bookstore on October 20. 

Bonnie Jo Campbell says “dang,” can you believe it? I may have caught the habit from her. She said it a couple of times last night onstage at the Opera House in Traverse City, where she was part of the National Writers Series first-ever Bookmania Week. Sounds like something a cowgirl would say, doesn’t it?

I feel honored to be a small part of Michigan’s literary community. And it is so much dang fun, too!


Marilyn Zimmerman said...

What a wonderful event. Bonnie Jo was warm and engaging and open and just fun to listen to and to meet. I'm still ruminating about the afternoon and can't wait to read her latest book. She really is a treasure as are you for bringing her to Northport (among other reasons)!

P. J. Grath said...

Marilyn, I am thrilled that you were able to be here. What a marvelous audience we had, eh? I thought you-all (including me) would never let Bonnie go -- and she seemed happy to be with us, too, which made the whole event even more joyful for me.

I got e-mail this morning from another audience member who gives me permission to quote her here. She wrote:

"Good morning, Pamela.

"I can't believe our NPT reading audience had such wonderful and intimate access to one of my favorite writers. We have you to love and thank for it . . . and I do!

"BJC is so entertaining and engaging and, well, fun. (Can you believe she brought along Joyce Carol Oates?) Her appearance at Dog Ears salon is certainly one of the highlights of my year.


Deb W. expresses exactly what I felt about having Bonnie here: "wonderful and intimate access to one of my favorite writers." She was wonderful onstage Tuesday evening in Traverse City with Thomas Lynch, but how thrilling to have her among us here in Northport and to be able to ask her question after question!