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.”

Lorelei and Rory

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!

Hurrah, all!

“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.

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§ 9 Responses to Breakfast, Books and a Burgeoning Crowd…

  • Ruth says:

    It sounds heavenly, from the snort-laughs to the quichelettes to the inspirational talks on writing. Ahhhh. And your photo of the table? Photog envy. And writing envy. And humorist envy.

    (I think I fall in love all over again when I come here.)

  • Arti says:

    Oh what a full life you lead! Movies, orchids, breakfast a la books, blogging, literary events, and listening to writers sharing tidbits on writing. Totally enjoy your recent posts. But you probably can’t do all those if you start writing 10 hours a day.

  • Lisa D says:

    What a lovely day! You two are too cute! Such a fun mother/daughter thing to do, and yes, it is very Gilmore Girls. 🙂

    I need to start reading some of Ridley’s books. I am going to hop onto my library’s website and request some! I am in need of a good book to read. Just finished Middlesex which was a complete struggle. I finished it because I don’t like to give up on books, but wow I did not like it at all!

    Happy Sunday!

  • typehype says:

    I so enjoyed this post. Your tantalizing description, so full of sensual detail — I could practically hear the pinging of silverware against glass — and a photo of yourself, too! Well, how do you do! Lovely to be able to match face with your words. I felt as if I were sitting right there at your table. The last time I remember experiencing such an enriching social event was at the AWP conference, some years ago, in NYC (2010 conference is in Denver; 2011, in D.C. — wouldn’t it be cool if we could meet up at the one in D.C.??)

    You know, I’ve never read a Ridley book, after reading your posts about him, I’m curious — what’s the name of the first in the series of Peter books that you would recommend? Thanks 🙂

  • mandy says:

    I think that this sounds like a lovely mother/daughter event to attend on a Saturday morning (and perhaps a bit Gilmore-sih). I have The Kingdom Keepers on my TBR list. What a great opportunity to hear some great authors speak and spend time with like-minded people.

  • Nora says:

    Excellent recap; don’t think I could have said it better if I tried 🙂

  • jeanie says:

    I feel like I’m there! First, to see your smiling faces, then to see that glorious fruit and finally to hear about each and every detail — as beautifully written as it could be by any author you would spend your time to listen to! It sounds like a flawless Saturday — just the best!

  • Big Daddy says:

    Goly, sounds like mucho fun. If only I was not such a Friday night rock and roller, I could get up with the decent people on a Saturday morning and see what the heck the bright fuss is…But, alas, I pound the bass strings hard and must rest hard as well…..Nice writing, no matter what!

  • […] into a heap of laughter for no apparent reason. If you want proof as to how Gilmore we can be, read Darling’s post about our Saturday morning escapade.)  Anyway, I knew I loved the show when I missed one espiode and promptly watched it on Hulu, […]

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