Breakfast, Books and a Burgeoning Crowd…
March 27, 2010 § 9 Comments
We got out of the car and pulled our coats tighter around us in spite of the early morning sun. Saturday, and we were out at the crack of down, driving about in downtown St. Louis, making one another snort-laugh while looking for the venue of the Authors Lunch hosted by the Assitance League that we were to attend. This was not just a dress-like-a-fireman morning; we had done our hair and makeup and were each in dresses, with Nory in heels. We were either going to hit the mark or go over it.
We hit the fashion mark and in the parking lot were surrounded by others with perfect hair, drawn in eyebrows, spring jackets, heels, pumps, bags, lipstick and some with their patient if not truculent men on their arms.
We were attending an event to which we’d been invited by one of those new acquaintances who is an absolute “find” in terms of shared interests, the wow of a good book and the social graces that would get her through anything. Two authors were to address the crowd. They did. The event was to be long and leisurely. It was. The food was to be fabulous. It was. And everyone at the table was assuredly entertaining, hand-picked by the new acquaintance.
As we approached the venue, and admired the swirl of attendance headed for the very same door, Nory was heard to remark: “We’re like the Gilmore Girls going to one of Emily Gilmore’s events.”
Me and Nory (casual pic; not dressed up here)
“What?” I said. “Oh, yeah.” I realized suddenly what she meant.
We solderied on, into the foyer that was another swirl of hellos and hugging and chatting and the greeters welcomed us warmly and pointed us to the table of name tags.
The room was huge and full of light and packed with round tables seating 10. The centerpieces were lovely and topped with famous authors names. We breathed their names as we passed each one – Jane Austen, CS Lewis, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mary Shelley and many more – on to ours named William Shakespeare. Perfect. The table was a gorgeous clutter of silver and glasses and white plates and promise. And the caterers delivered on the promise part, filling our glasses with ice cold lemon water, another with iced tea, another with juice and another with coffee.
Introductions all around at the table and conversation zoomed along. We gazed around. There were easily 300 guests. And the two authors were already at a long approachable table, ready to sign books.
And yes, one of those authors was Ridley Pearson.
If you read this blog, you already know that I’ve seen him twice already in the past year. What can I say? It just happens. Nory retrieved the book she had brought along (Kingdom Keepers 2: Disney at Dawn). I had nothing this time since last time we attended one of his presentations, I had four of them with me!
Neither of us was familiar with the other author present, Ms. Eleanor Berra Marfisi, a touted author and poetess and also a celebrity on The Hill, a very special and specific neighborhood in St. Louis.
(Look closely at the picture and behind the fruit glass and behind the iced tea, there’s a Pearson paperback on the table!)
Breakfast was served in stages, like a dinner, only morning foods – first the fruit. I nibbled on Nory’s too, since she cannot eat the ripe riotous stuff. More conversation. An excellent presentation film about the Assistance League (should we join? Oh they need a certain amount of service hours per year and new members require mentoring – can we do that? have we time? can we retire yet and get involved? oh, the fine things they do including school clothes for kids, gift bags of very needed items at the women’s shelters, running a fine recyled shop.)
Then the entree, with quichelettes, potatoes, toast points, and more conversation. Something about these tables was convivial, not the usual impossible distance of a 10-person table here. And books began piling up as our centerpiece as people bought books and were getting them signed.
And then Ms. Marfisi spoke. She encouraged our laughter. She spoke of love for her Italian heritage and the way she developed its stories among families on The Hill and learned of their histories and recipes and family life.
She spoke most of all about the need for us to all write down our memories and our experiences. She encouraged us to preserve everything we could about our lives and do it on paper so that it could be passed on. She exhorted us to write poetry, no need for rhyme or reason but only to write, to try it, use it as tool to record. She pressed us to do our memoirs. She told us to laugh out loud and try new things. And to write it down.
She shared her writing-ness. She believes in all of us, in our ability to do that and promised that even as old (young) as she was, she, too, would continue to do so. I loved her immediatley for her perspective and for her sharing. Many writers don’t do that, thinking they are in such a separate place, as writers. Ms. Marfisi is there, cheering us all on, and promising that our stories are important.
Then Ridley Pearson spoke. His approach as a natural storyteller put a whole new light on writing and the writing game and he entertained us as a storyteller, delivering anecdotes from his own writing life and how it developed. There were new stories about his life this third time as I listened.
I swear, I could start his biography. I’ll bet he’s already writing his own story, though. The man works at writing ten hours a day. I have already regaled you with his stories and recommended his Peter and the Starcatcher books so won’t bother you with that again. (But really, do you have anything in your TBR stack right now that tantalizes? Because if not, try a “Peter” book, though you really should go in order. There are four, with a fifth on the way.)
And then suddenly, it was over. The event, formally, came to a close with the announcement of stunning attendance prizes – three huge baskets of books and restaurant gift card offering enough to feed a family of four on The Hill. Excellent.
We hugged our new acquaintances, Nory got a compliment on her dress and a discussion on The September Issue (another blog to follow on THAT!) and we then squeezed into the miniscule coat closet to find our coats and wrapped up to face the “bbbrrrrrr” outside the glass doors.
Yes, I would begin every Saturday morning, alarm clock notwithstanding, to sit at that table with such a melange of people and professions and pointedly interested in service to others and in books!
“Not too Emily-ish, was it, Nor?” I asked her as we descended to the parking lot and the wind whipped our hair.
“It wasn’t too bad.”
“Did you have fun?”
“Uh huh. But the next Kingdom Keepers book comes out in 10 days – how am I going to get it signed?”
“He’s going on tour. See where his stops are.”
And when we got home, she did.
Mark your calendars. Looks like April 15, on Euclid at the Schlafly library, will be his next “stop.”
We’ll be there.