Sunday, August 31, 2008

You can't go anywhere without seeing a chessplayer

Arriving late at the Decatur Book Festival and seeing a sign proclaiming a "Full House" at the Presbyterian church where author Rick Bragg was speaking, I told the nice doorkeepers the story of how I had met Rick in St Louis back in 2002, where I had given him a cassette tape of Love and Danger by Joe Ely as we were leaving. Either taking pity on me or just wanting to get rid of me, I was told I could stand in the balcony. Once there, I saw an opening down front, right behind a guy filming. I was able to see Rick on the monitor while listening to him read from his new book,
The Prince of Frogtown
After he finished he was to sign copies across the street at a tent set up by EAGLE EYE BOOKS. I walked up as he was about to begin, with a long line of people standing in the sun waiting. "Did you like that tape by Joe Ely I gave you in St Louis about six years ago?" I asked. "I did. I DID!" he exclaimed, extending his hand. "How are you, brother?" he asked. "I'm OK, Rick, and you're looking pretty good yourself," I said, continuing, "But I can't help noticing you've put on some weight. Is it getting married, or those chili pups from Krystal?" He broke into a wide grin as he answered, "A little of both!"
By now the folks waiting to obtain an autograph were becoming exasperated, so I decided I'd better head on and said goodbye, but Rick held my hand, asking if I wanted to get a beer after he finished. Reluctantly, I had to tell him I had to open the chess center at 3 pm.
I walked on over to the Hoiliday Inn to see the rare books and anyone I might know from my Oxford bookstore days. On my way back to the car who should I see but GCA baord member Colin Potts! He said he had been at a poetry reading. I asked why he wasn't home working on the long overdue magazine, and he laughed, saying he had actually wondered if he would see Mark Taylor there, with him "being the literary sort." I told him I would NOT put the fact that I'd seen him in the blog, but he insisted it was ok, as he said he was going "right home to work on the magazine." And I thought he had said earlier he was heading home to walk the dogs...

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