Thursday night’s reading at Malaprop’s was everything a guy could ask for. But let me backtrack:
On Monday I arrived in Asheville after the Sewanee Writers conference to spend a night with my friend Lori Horvitz before starting my residency in Hambidge on Tuesday. It was my first time in Asheville, and I had been told by numerous people that I was going to love it. They were right. What’s not to love? An adorable mountain town filled with super chill free- spirited people, great food, great beer, one of the best chocolate lounges in the world (French Broad), and the awesome Malaprop’s bookstore.
On Tuesday morning before I took off I decided to pay an incognito visit to Malaprop’s to check the place out. The store had a whole display case near the front window for upcoming readers, myself included. To top that off, up at the front counter, was my book along with a card announcing the reading on Thursday. Just a few books down on the same counter was Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild.” She was reading that same night. I was sad to miss her, but my residency started that afternoon. In any event, it was nice to share a display with her! I hear the crowds were so big they had to turn people away.
And while no one had to be turned away Thursday night, Anna North and I did get a very respectable crowd for our reading. I drove back from Hambidge (only 90 miles away) yesterday afternoon. When we walked in, a super nice young woman (I believe her name was Lauren) from Malaprop’s asked me what kind of coffee I’d like, and I was treated to a delicious hazelnut cappuccino. Anna read from her novel and I read “Dear Guy in 24B.” and afterwards we fielded some terrific questions from the audience. The crowd was really thoughtful and engaging and genuinely interested in our process and just as people in general. We each sold some copies and signed extras for the store and then we each got a little gift bag with some local coffee and some other knick knacks. Inside was the August Events Calendar with pictures of both Anna and me front and center–it sounds a bit cheesy to get excited about this, but as a writer of a short story collection from a small independent press, being treated with such kindness and consideration feels REALLY good. A few bookstores have turned down my requests to read, so when a store as well-established as Malaprop’s does such an amazing job of making me feel welcome, I feel very appreciative. If you are ever in Asheville–and you really should visit if you haven’t–you must stop at Malaprop’s. Buy a book, or three. At least buy a coffee! It’s awesome.