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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

It Took a Village

Our Tuesday evening Dog Ears Books event at Spice World Cafe was a very Northport kind of story. Officially, it was a book launch. Unofficially, it was much more. The themes, as I reconstruct them now, the next day, were friendship, community, and welcome. 

Sarah Shoemaker wrote the novel, Mr. Rochester (destined for an international audience, in my opinion), and also made brownies for the reception following dinner (because, like any serious, dedicated writer, she has had to practice versatility), while Angela Dhami prepared dinner for sixty in her Spice World Cafe (Tuesday's crowd could never have squeezed into Dog Ears Books) and her crew did yeoman service getting it on the tables. Trudy Carpenter put together fruit punch and brought her deservedly famous lemon bars. The cake was a delicious David Chrobak creation. I know it was delicious, because someone brought me a piece, but I didn't get to see it before it was cut.

Bill Coohon and Patty Noftz helped me out with fliers to publicize the event ahead of time, Pat Scott brought fresh flowers for the tables on Tuesday, and David Grath took charge of microphone and camera. Getting the books here from the publisher in New York--that was my part, but when it came to sales, I was helped at the event by my loyal, longtime bookstore volunteer, Bruce Balas. Barbara Stark-Nemon (another local author) also brought a camera, and besides serving as backup photographer she pitched in repeatedly whenever she saw something that needed to be done, as did David and Trudy and Bruce and many others. Northport people don't sit around on their hands: they get up and get things done!

Northport people? Of all those mentioned above, only one is native to Northport, with a second coming originally from down the road in Leland. The rest of us started out at distant points, moving along meandering life routes to get where we are today. But where we're "from" doesn't matter. We're here, now, and we came together with our fellow townspeople to mark a very special occasion, the launch--in Northport!--of a book simultaneously released on May 9 in the U.S., England, and Australia--let me say it again!--Mr. Rochester, by Sarah Shoemaker.

Already reviewed in "USA Today"

Northport may be considered "off the beaten path," but it is very much a part of the larger, "real" world. We are not only affected by what goes on elsewhere: once in a while something we do here sends ripples outward. The novel we celebrated on Tuesday evening began as an idea in Sarah Shoemaker's mind five years ago, thanks to a book club discussion at our little Leelanau Township Library in Northport. The author was aided in her research by the Michigan Electronic Library, accessible from our little local library. And now we in Northport will be watching, proudly, as Mr. Rochester makes its way around the world--and we will be cheering our friend Sarah every step of the way!

When I was invited to give a brief spiel for the event on a Traverse City radio station four days prior, the radio host commented that not many towns the size of Northport can boast a local bookstore. Well, there were times in the 24 years since Dog Ears Books was born (back in 1993, right on Waukazoo Street a short walk from its present location) when I didn't think we would be around much longer. Northport, like the country in general, has known times of struggle. And yet, here we are, my little bookstore and I, nearly a quarter-century later, still going strong, and now introducing to my local community a book I read and loved in manuscript three years ago. 

What does it take for a small independent bookstore to survive? It takes hard work, perseverance, sacrifice -- and it takes a village of friends who love books and are eager and willing to support a bookstore. 

My heart overflows with gratitude for my book-loving village friends! You are the secret to my success!


Trudy Carpenter said...

You are the heart.

Mr G said...

And the soul

P. J. Grath said...

Trudy and Steve, you two are so complimentary, people are going to think I pay you to comment!