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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Northport on National Literary Map

Ready for the Big Night
It isn’t every day of the year that an author from Washington, DC, comes to Northport, Michigan, with an important, nationally reviewed new book  on a period of American history fascinating to almost everyone. That’s what happened on the last day of July, however, when David Roll visited Dog Ears Books and held an audience enthralled with his stories of Harry Hopkins, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin. What a special event it was! I saw a few people in the audience I hadn’t seen in the bookstore all summer, a few all the way from Torch Lake, and a contingent of loyal Northporters. Still others close to home (or away on road trips) expressed regret at having scheduling conflicts that kept them from attending.

Various audience members, intrigued by his stories, asked questions of the author, and several, making purchases of the book following the presentation, expressed appreciation for his entertaining and informative talk. Again, an event like this is something you will never get online.

Before I introduced David Roll, I reminded those gathered (in my husband’s beautiful art gallery!) that we were meeting on the last day of the 20th anniversary month of Dog Ears Books. I keep saying it over and over, not because my ego is so huge but because it’s hard for me to believe. Twenty years! The little shed where my bookstore was born is long gone. Woody’s Settling Inn, the restaurant next door to the shed, is long gone, the site newly cleared and ground broken for a new building to take shape soon. Borders came to Traverse City and then disappeared from the entire country in the 20 years that Dog Ears Books has been around. Isn’t this a pretty incredible history for a bookstore born in a little village at the end of a peninsula in northern Michigan?

The only thing I forgot was my punch line. When announcing that I would be paying the sales tax for purchasers last night and that an additional five dollars would buy them my usually nine-dollar book bag, I had intended to add, “And when you buy books and bags here, you’re not just 'buying stuff.' You’re supporting literary culture in Northport!” Okay, so I’m saying it here and now.

David Roll was a gracious bookstore guest and stayed to sign a few extra copies of his book for me after everyone else had left. Already the next morning before store opening time two of those four copies had been spoken for.

“A preposition is a word you mustn’t end a sentence with.” Did Winston Churchill say that? Or was it Ogden Nash? Never mind. The après-sunset glow of my drive home last night matched my mood, and grammar was the least of my concerns. Oh, and did I mention that David Roll may be a Washington lawyer but he is also a Michigan native? Oh, yeah!

Thursday evening Leelanau sky


Northport muse said...

What a wonderful event and so characteristic of the gem that is Dog Ears! Congratulations again on 20 wonderful years of contribution to the reading community on the Leelanau Peninsula!

BB-Idaho said...

How exciting! Regarding similar events on line, I caught the author
a couple weeks back on c-span and am assuming he did as well discussing
his work at your gathering. I sure
wish c-span had been at Dog Ear Books as well!

Kathy said...

This sounds like a most lovely evening. How fortunate indeed were you to have such a guest! I had to laugh about your guests visiting all the way from Torch Lake. (Am still smiling about that. Did Gerry attend?)

Dawn said...

Sounds like a rousing success! Congratulations on 20 years and on spreading good books across the region! Pretty sunset too. :)

P. J. Grath said...

Thanks for the congratulations, Barbara and Dawn. Yes, Kathy, I was fortunate in my bookstore guest, but no, Gerry didn't make it over. BB, what a great thought of yours (it makes me laugh): C-span at Dog Ears! Wouldn't THAT be something?!

P. J. Grath said...

Actually, this is not the first time we have been “on the national literary map.” One summer three of the authors who came to do events at Dog Ears Books were also making national news: in alphabetical order they were Ellen Airgood, Benjamin Busch, and Bonnie Jo Campbell. We have also hosted excellent and very prolific regional authors who deserve national attention, such as Anne-Marie Oomen and Jerry Dennis. Some guest writers, such as Don Lystra and Katey Schultz, came with their first books, and we believed in them. Sometimes writers visit bookstores with the national spotlight already on them. More often it is the bookstores that help to connect readers to deserving writers. That’s part of the bookselling mission in the world.