Thursday, June 5, 2008

I have very few goals in life. To get the pit stains out of my 2(x)ist t-shirts, to separate my giant bag of batteries into Still Useful or Dead; to get David Sedaris to autograph my first edition of Barrel Fever. He's in town to promote his new book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, so I get to the bookstore eighteen hours early to snag a seat in the very first row.

I sit and read for maybe twelve hours. I'm next to the Pet Care section, and unwilling to stray more than five feet from my chair, I can now safely deworm a Shih Tzu. The place is just about full, and a Barnes & Noble employee takes the stage to explain the rules. No flash photos, since eight thousand going off at once can permanently blind somebody. For autographs, they'll take one row at a time, starting with the front. Mr. Sedaris will sign just about anything except drawings we've done of him.

This hits me like an arrow to the heart. Here I've assumed I'm his biggest fan, buying Barrel Fever the second it hit the stores. I've never tried to draw him, though. I thought his crinkly eyes and cautious nose were simply uncapturable.

I continue reading -- did you know that every morning you have to clear the glands of boxers, squeezing their buttocks like Spanish limes? -- and she takes the stage again. "David's turned up early," she declares. "He's going to start signing things now." We all shriek with delight as he takes his seat behind the desk and she heads to the front row.

She asks the first person who he wants the book dedicated to. "Lurene," he replies. She writes it in big letters on a Post-It, sticks it on the title page, and sends him up to get the autograph. She moves down the row, repeating this at every seat, and by the time she gets to me she's written names on thirteen Post-Its. Mike, Kevin, Walter, Shoshanna. "Who do you want this dedicated to?" she asks me.

I've never understood this. Why would somebody want an author to personally address them in a book? He isn't giving it to them. He didn't sit there while he was writing and think, "You know, Lurene's really going to love this book. It seems pretty stupid, and even close to pitiful to pretend that you and the author are on a first-name basis. "Actually," I say, "could I get him to write something funny in it?"

She glares at me, like I've run into Gordon Ramsay on a street corner and asked him to whip me up Steak Diane. "You know, he's a writer," I say. "He should be able to come up with something."

"Why don't you think of something and he'll write it?"

"I don't want to put words in his mouth."

We stare at each other for five or ten minutes before I snap. "Okay, how about this," I say. "'Every story a classic.'" She scowls like she's swallowed a bad clam. "You know, it's kind of flattering," I continue. "I'm not asking him to write, 'I get sailors drunk and then suck on their jockstraps.' And it's only four freakin' words."

Reluctantly she writes it on a Post-It and sends me up to the stage. Mr. Sedaris sees the Post-It and I immediately backtrack. "I just wanted you to write something funny," I say.

He smiles. "Do you mind if I edit it?" he asks. I say that's fine. And as he signs it, I think, you know, I'll bet I could capture those eyes.


Steven said...

I just have one question: Where the hell was Raoul?

Lipstick Mystic said...

Cool beans - you got Sedaris to autograph your book!

I just read When You Are Engulfed in Flames in, like, one sitting, but then it was 97 degrees outside and only one room in the house has air conditioning and there wasn't much point in moving my butt for the day.

Not his most exciting work - and he reuses certain characters and incidents, but still fun.

Did you curl up in his lap and tell him you weren't leaving until he coughed up a referal to his literary agent?

'Cause that's what you need to be doing - stalking Augusten Burroughs, David Sedaris, and Jonathan Ames until one of them coughs up a reference for you.

Just my opinion of course!

RomanHans said...

Hey LM! Good to see you.

I've written to everybody's literary agent, whether or not I had a referral. I still haven't heard back from yours after something like two months.

I think that's why I don't have an agent any more: after four months of silence I emailed him and asked, "Um, what exactly are you DOING?" Seems he sent my book to eight publishers and then, evidently, lost interest.

Lipstick Mystic said...

Sorry to hear the agent thing hasn't yet been fruitful for you. Hmm. Time to ingratiate yourself with a different group of them, I suppose - and please don't give up! Send out more submissions until somebody not only adopts you but pushes until they stir up some nice deals. You can do it!