Last night in Bend, David Sedaris read a selection of essays. His own, I should say. Myself and 1,199 other people listened, laughed and clapped and then later made an unruly line to have our books signed. Honestly, the NPR-listening crowd really gets pushy when it comes to getting an autograph from an NPR-contributing author. But I was third in line, possibly due to the use of an illegal elbow on a skinny vegan.* Hey, this is a BOOK SIGNING we're talking about.
I had put some thought into what I might say when I met David. I wanted to come up with something different, something other than, "I really like your books, you're so funny, the stories are so wonderful, blah blah blah...." Because he's never heard THOSE THINGS before.
In between reading essays, he talked about a couple of books that he liked. An author he recommended was Richard Yates, now deceased, whose first novel, Revolutionary Road was a finalist for a National Book Award (1961).
'Aha!' I thought, as I sat in the auditorium, overthinking as usual. 'I could recommend a book to him! That would be different.'
Here's what I said:
"Here is my favorite bookmark (to sign) because I lent my copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day to my mom. I have a book to recommend to you! Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue. It's historical fiction and beautifully written. (Set in London, since he just moved there and became a citizen, I thought it appropos. And, a little clever. Oh, how the mighty do fall.) She also has a book of fable-like stories, sort of like your animal fables! (Ass-kissing is always in vogue! Except when it's not.)"
What I didn't say:
"I like your books. You're writing is funny and I enjoy it very much. One of my favorite essays was from Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim and it was about an uncomfortable visit you had with your sister and how you end up cleaning her apartment and washing her dishes because it's your way of saving her life. It's relatable and funny! Thank you for coming to Bend. I am so glad you came!"
Perhaps I should have given it more thought and said the latter, but, too late now.
As for the next time Mr. Sedaris and I meet, and I hope we do, I will give more credence to plain old "I like your writing" kinds of comments. Because standing out from the crowd and being unique is one thing, but being remembered for having talked about OTHER BOOKS to an author who is there to talk about his books is a whole other ball of nerd-wax.
* No vegans were hurt by me at this book signing.