introducing readers to writers since 1995

June 06, 2005

And How Was My BookExpo?

by Ron Hogan

Because I knew that folks like Ed, Mark, and Sarah were on the scene, not to mention shutterbug Mary Reagan, I felt like I could set my antenna a little lower this weekend and just soak up the scene. Consequently, I couldn't really tell you what the "big story" for the BookExpo weekend was as far as the industry's concerned. On the other hand, informal base touching with a number of women writers I met on the floor revealed widespread hostility towards Curtis Sittenfeld's condemnation of The Wonder Spot as chick lit, even though Sittenfeld believes "to suggest that another woman's ostensibly literary novel is chick lit feels catty, not unlike calling another woman a slut." Whatever problems Melissa Bank's collection of linked stories may or may not have, the women I spoke to Saturday night and Sunday afternoon said, slapping the chick lit label on it "because its appeal relies so much on how closely readers relate to its protagonist" (which may merely be the reviewer's opinion, at that) was an undeserved low blow. They went on to further ridicule Sittenfeld's assertion that if the book had ended without the female protagonist finding a man, "it would have meant the book simply couldn't be chick lit; for a heroine to go manless is a violation of the genre's most basic tenet." If that's the case, writers told me, there's a lot of "chick-lit writers" out there who must really be anything but. (Meanwhile, as a potential gauge of the relevance of the NYTBR to contemporary bookseller sensibilities, the line for Melissa Bank's signing was pretty damn long.)

That's the closest I came to controversy all weekend, though--mostly folks were just glad to catch up with each other and pick up some of this fall's eagerly anticipated titles. I missed the Chris Elliott signing, but Miramax did have huge stacks of his Caleb Carr parody, The Shroud of the Thwacker, so I made sure to snag one along with The King in the Window, a fantasy for children by Adam Gopnik (yep, the New Yorker guy). On the science fiction front, I caught up with my friends at Small Beer Press, where I also met Sean Stewart, and I made sure to stop by Pyr to say hello to Lou Anders, since I'd just written about his blog. That landed me an introduction to Chris Roberson, and also to visiting novelist Paul Park, after which I swung by the Tor booth to pick up his latest, A Princess of Roumania. I focused all my autoographing attention on Saturday, when I was able to meet Holly Black, pick up the latest kid's novel from Allen Kurzweil, and wait in back-to-back lines for Soho mystery writers Cara Black and Rebecca Pawel.

On the party front, Mrs. Beatrice and I had a small, intimate dinner in Queens Friday night with Ed and Sarah, and then last night, we centered most of our nightlife around the Algonquin, first with the celeb-packed reception for the International Thriller Writers, followed by a party for Unbridled Books author Edward Falco. Afterwards, I went off by myself to a party for Jennifer Weiner, and got a lovely gift bag that include an Ugly Doll, a pack of Krispy Kremes, and a sneak peek at Jennifer's fourth novel, Goodnight Nobody. I also got Jennifer's informal, non-binding commitment to debate the merits of chick lit with Meg Wolitzer (or a reasonable substitute) if I could pull together a venue...because I'm talking live, not here on the site. So let's see what happens!

If you enjoy this blog,
your PayPal donation
can contribute towards its ongoing publication.