The Stone Lantern

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

May 27, 2006

I’m back from New England. Here’s what happened. First, I stopped in a small independent bookstore in New Hampshire. The young man at the register led me to a friendly woman in a small room at the back of the store. She is surrounded by books and is facing a computer. Her keyboard could use some cleaning and I think that if I had some Windex, I could really do something for her keyboard. I hand her some postcards. Hi, I’m Abigail Friedman and I’ve just written this book, The Haiku Apprentice: Memoirs of Writing Poetry in Japan. I come through this area fairly frequently to visit my daughter and I wanted to let you know that I’d be happy to do some book signings, readings…. My book is a Book Sense pick for June…. This last bit of information gets her attention. She takes the cards, reads one, looks up at me and confides, Here’s what I’ve found with poetry: Everyone wants to come in and read their own poetry, but no one wants to listen to someone else’s poetry. I tell her that my book doesn’t have much of my own poetry in it – that’s the apprentice part in the title. It’s a memoir. It’s about Japan. A memoir? She perks up. Oh, I can do something with that. Japan also seems to be a draw, at least more of a draw than poetry. She tells me she is going to order some of my books right away. I think she means it, too. I’m making headway here; this is starting to be fun. I try not to think about the economics of it all (How much did I spend on gas driving down here? What’s the percentage again that I get on each book? How many books is she ordering?) I want to tell her to make sure not to stick my book on the poetry shelf but on the MEMOIR shelf, or the JAPAN shelf. Or maybe both. But I think I shouldn’t push my luck. I leave her my email address and tell her that I’ll come back to sign all those books.

Outside, my daughter who just failed her driving test that day is fuming. What took you so long, mom? You said ‘five minutes.’ I drove in a circle around the parking lot three times while I waited for you. You what?! I swear to myself that never again will I leave her the car keys so that she can listen to music on the radio.

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