This past weekend, The LA Times Festival of Books happened on the UCLA campus. All day Saturday and Sunday, book lovers and book friends strolled among hundreds of booths, attended readings, panels, and lectures, and celebrated their bookishness in the Westwood sunshine. There was even face painting for the kids.
In a town where books become properties which become movies, I was amazed to see so many readers waiting on line for free panel discussions on the Art of the Novel and so forth. Maybe, these people went to the panel discussions so they wouldn't have to read the books. . .
前h yes, I saw So-and-so on a panel, and he said. . .' they could say ever so cleverly and condescendingly while holding their third mimosa.
Still, I'm going to give LA book lovers the benefit of the doubt and declare that yes, people in LA do read books. Not only do they read books. They read books with gusto and wear wide rimmed straw hats and never go out into the sun. After all, there must be enough book people to justify all the book superstores. Or maybe it's the coffee.
At the Book Fest, I noticed a lot of rolling suitcases. Figuring out that their owners were too old to be moving into UCLA dorms, I soon realized that the suitcases were suitcases filled with books for the book signings. Still, do you really need a rolling suitcase to hold all your books? Seems a little extreme. Do you own books or do your books own you? Should we be able to carry a book or should we take advantage of that new technology, the wheel, and roll our books? Who were all these people and why were they socializing around an anti-social activity (reading)?
We had arrived early in the morning, and already the Book Festival was crowded like a rock concert. I had taken Dear One of My Heart (aka Doomh---the H is silent) to the Book Festival because his favorite author was speaking on a panel. It should also be noted that Doomh's favorite author is also named Doomh (same spelling---the H is still silent) and had garnered much acclaim for his most recent novel. In fact, the Doomh the author received The Super Dooper Prize for Excellence just the night before.
Due to a series of events that would bore me to describe, Doomh the boyfriend and I ended up sitting in different sections of a large UCLA auditorium. This was not too much of a bother during the panel itself since I was busy taking notes. I like to take notes because it keeps my mind occupied on the ideas at hand. Otherwise, my Star Wars generation mind looks at all that talking as boring and goes to sleep. Literary panels do not have light saber duels---although wouldn't it be cool if they did.
塑our powers are weak, old man!' shouts the young writer to the old writer.
選f you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.' responds the old writer.
Zing! Rmmmm! Rmmmm!
The panel discussion ended with applause, and people started filing out. I looked around for Doomh, but I could not see him anywhere. I moved with the crowd out the door to a walkway that overlooked a stone courtyard filled with people.
船OOMH!' I shouted toward the courtyard.
Suddenly, Doomh the author, who I suddenly saw was twenty feet in front of me, turned around in a panic. He had a scared, confused look on his face and looked at me as if he was frantically trying to remember where he saw me before.
前h no not you another Doomh sorry sorry.' I said. My words flowed out of me without grammar. I had just faux pas-ed in front of Doomh's favorite author and possibly caused him to have a minor heart attack. Shit. Shit. Not good.
I found Doomh the boyfriend enjoying his Black Russian cigarette in the courtyard and told him what happened.
選t makes sense though. There aren't many Doomhs in Southern California.' He said as we walked on.
We discovered that Doomh the author was signing his book in a white tented area called the signing area. At first, Doomh the boyfriend was a little hesitant about me being with him while Doomh the author signed his book. After I promised not to shout again, Doomh the boyfriend allowed me to stay with him.
Holding one hardcover copy of Doomh's Super Dooper Prize winning new novel, Doomh and I moved up in the line. With our single novel, we felt like paupers among the book people pulling out three, four, or five different copies of an author's work from their luggage for signing purposes. When the volunteer in the yellow T-shirt announced that each author can only sign three copies of their books, we smiled and held up the one book while all around us, book people sighed and reorganized their stash.
Suddenly, I thought of all my favorite dead authors. What would it be like for DH Lawrence to sit under a white tent while people walked by telling him how much they absolutely loved his books and will he write more about Lady Chatterley? Can you sign a copy of Sons and Lovers for my daughter Janis?
We arrived at Doomh the author's table. Doomh placed his single copy of Doomh's book down on the table, and Doomh the author looked at it with relief. He only had to sign one.
詮irst, I wish to apologize for my girlfriend shouting your name.' Doomh the boyfriend said as he gestured to me. I said nothing, smiled and waved. I was not going to say a word, nosiree.
前h, you're the other Doomh!' Doomh the author said with great enthusiasm. Yes, Doomh the boyfriend was real and not a figure of my imagining.
Doomh and Doomh engaged in chitchat. Where are you from? How about that Pope? Etc, etc, etc. They had a moment, and Doomh signed the book 禅o Doomh From Doomh. Los Angeles 2005'.
As we walked away from the signing tent, Doomh the boyfriend was in the clouds. He's not a giddy type of person, but right then, he was absolutely giddy. He had met a writer, and you would have thought he had just met God. This was a big moment for him. I was happy that he was happy. Gosh shucks, I was such the girlfriend.
We went for coffee soon after that. Away from the book people, away from the rolling suitcases, away from the white tents, the epiphanies really started to fly.