Monday, November 29, 2010

Spending Saturday Night with David

I found out this week that David Sedaris would be in Salt Lake City doing a reading Saturday night at a local independent bookstore that I had never visited before. Last minute, about 5pm when the event began at 7, I decided to go. I asked A. if she wanted to go and she at first wasn’t interested at all but then came around to the idea. I did warn her ahead of time there would probably be a long wait in a queue.

From the outside, Sam Weller’s looks like kind of a small shop and when we drove past looking for parking it didn’t look like many people were inside. Ha! Boy was I wrong on the size of the place as well as the number of Sedaris fans. David had arrived early and offered to start signing books before the reading at 7 so people were already lined up.

We headed to the back of the line which was on the upstairs balcony and found out from talking to staff and to some other folks in line that we were in a perfect position to watch his reading so we skipped trying to get our book signed before the show and got comfortable to watch the reading. He was brilliant as always reading a story from his new book, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, as well as sharing some material not in his book. He’s been asking people on this book tour if they know a good joke and he’s planning on putting something together using that material.

Then the wait began…it wasn’t too bad with company. Why is it that sometimes in restaurants or waiting in line you can hear one voice above others and it can be very annoying? As we waited in line A and I would look at each other occasionally because a girl standing behind us was talking very loudly about her life, especially her boyfriend and EVERYTHING he does wrong. When we got outside A said she wanted to yell back at her, “Dump him!”

When it was our turn to meet David I told him that I was getting this book for my friend L in London and that we’d seen him there together. So we talked a bit about London and he asked A some questions. He also said he always brought teenagers gifts so she could choose from a chocolate bar or some lotion from the Little America hotel. She chose the chocolate. We both enjoyed meeting him.

A word about the Little America Hotel, during his Q&A someone jokingly said to him, “Do you want to know more about the Church of Latter Day Saints?” which made the whole crowd laugh. He went on to say that he always likes coming to Salt Lake because you can tell you are in Salt Lake where if you are in Cleveland, you might not right away feel like you’re in Cleveland. He was staying in the Little America Hotel which he went on to describe as a large motel that would be kitschy somewhere else but it is well cared for and there’s always families with eight children staying there that are always well-behaved, which all give SLC a unique feel. I’ve stayed at that Little America Hotel and me and my friends have very similar descriptions of that place. Where other big cities hotel landscapes are dominated by chains, Salt Lake City has these weird independents like the Little America. I recently was wondering if Brandon Flowers took the pics for his album cover at the Little America, because it captures the d├ęcor perfectly.
A few things about the bookstore that the signing was at, we will definitely go back because it is massive and has a mix of new, used, and rare books. We had a lot of time standing in line and I was looking down at the Childcare/Parenting section from the balcony and noticed something funny. The section was made up of two bookshelves and the top of the first bookshelf started with books on conception and then the “What to Expect” line of books about pregnancy. It moved through infancy and adolescence and the very bottom shelf on the second bookshelf was labeled “teenagers” and the very last book on that shelf was called something like “When They Kill”. Was that book written for the parents of teenagers who didn’t read all the previous books and follow the advice or is that what happens if you do?

We were talking with one of the staff about the store when we were in line and I asked questions about the store. He asked me if I’d been in the basement which has a lot of material too. He added that ghosts have been seen in the building. The building was built in 1902 but they wondered if some of the ghosts came with the used books they sold. What titles would ghosts attach themselves to? After getting our book signed I said to A that we should go visit the basement. It was the end of the night and I don’t know if was a combination of his story, the fact that there was no one, not even staff in the basement and the lighting was kind of creepy but I wanted to get out of there as soon as we walked downstairs.

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