I was first introduced to Mike Leonard not through his work on The Today Show, but through his “appearance” as the father on The Brendan Leonard Show in 2003. The show itself was nothing short of a miracle, a teenager given complete creative freedom to provide forty episodes of content, the set his backyard, the cast his friends, the crew his relatives, the production company owned by his father two blocks from their house. That close-knit family appeal was fascinating to watch. And Mike Leonard’s work on The Today Show was all about slices of life, finding interesting things in weird places, finding friends in all corners of the world. Combine those two together and you have The Ride of Our Lives, the story of how Mike Leonard took three of his kids (and one daughter-in-law) and his aging parents in two RVs across the country for one last cool road trip. Spoilers to follow…
I am occasionally blessed, living in the metropolis that I do, to get to go to book signings. Book signings are awesome: they are a chance to interact with an author you really admire and respect (or, in my case, a chance to mutter crazily “THIS BOOK GOOD” and run away), and to walk away with a book that is now the pride of your collection because it has your name in it.
In 2012, I went to a total of 6 book signings:
– Daniel Handler & Maira Kalman, Why We Broke Up (I believe I’ve blogged about this previously, as Daniel Handler is my number one “YOU WRITE WORDS”/run away author)
– Sarah Z. Wexler, Awful First Dates
– Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan, Messy (I also got my copy of Spoiled signed)
– Claire Legrand, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls
– John Taylor, In The Pleasure Groove
– Daniel Handler again, Lemony Snicket’s Who Could That Be at This Hour? (I don’t have a problem. Who said I had a problem?)
Sarah Z. Wexler’s signing (at which the author provided tiny cupcakes) (I like when there are snacks) was a reading/Q&A about Awful First Dates, a compilation of bad date stories. It’s the kind of book that reading makes you simultaneously depressed and hopeful: because while your life/dating life may suck, at least you didn’t go out with the dude who runs over bunnies for ‘points’.
Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan, also known as The Fug Girls, provided wine at their reading/Q&A. I love the Spoiled… series? duo?, which is all about ridiculous Hollywood life in the form of action star Brick Berlin and his egotistical, spoiled daughter Brooke and his illegitimate lovechild Molly that gets thrown into their affluent lifestyle after her mother dies. It’s all about sisterhood and bonding and unexpected connections, and since it’s the Fug Girls, it’s funny as hell. And as a result, the Q&A was open to pretty much anything. Plus, I respect that they signed my copy of Spoiled with references to my favorite guilty pleasure TV show (that they also happen to fugcap) (no, I won’t tell you what it is).
Bonus swag: Messy handmirrors.
Claire Legrand was booklaunching Cavendish. This, like Messy before it, I was late because of work and missed the reading itself, but came in time for the Q&A. Cavendish is a middle-grade book, the super creepy story of young, perfect Victoria, whose less-than-perfect best friend goes missing, and she has to give up her perfection in order to search for him in the neighborhood home for wayward orphans, which might also actually be alive. I’d never been to a booklaunch before, but they go all out: snacks included a cheese and crackers spread, and a cake designed like the book cover. Swag included bug jewelry (it’s thematic!), magnets, AND tote bags. I love me a good tote bag.
John Taylor’s signing I believe was also technically a booklaunch, as it’d just been released that day, but John Taylor being the pretty boy bassist of one of the most popular bands of the eighties, it came with a built-in fanbase (as autobiographies so often do), and so the name of the game was just ushering fans through the line. That said, I did get my three seconds with a member of Duran Duran, who said “Hello, Casey,” and took a photo with me. I actually did really enjoy the book: his writing style comes off a bit like he did a lot of cocaine in the eighties and doesn’t remember all of it, and that is kind of the point, so it works.
Lastly, I saw Daniel Handler again, this time acting as the representative of the erstwhile Lemony Snicket, author of the first in his new, semi-autobiographical series All the Wrong Questions. No snacks, only swag to be found was a pencil, but there was a funny activity sheet to fill out, and Daniel Handler does a lot of running and yelling and manages to consistently be charming while facing a long line of people that are too shy to tell them how much they like him (children, and also me) (okay, so maybe it’s a little bit of a problem).
I apologize for deviating from the norm for this blog, but I do appreciate that since moving to The City, I got to start expanding my social and cultural repertoire by gushing over writers that I liked – to their faces. Simply put, it’s nice to like things. It’s nice, if you are a creator of things, to have people tell you that they like the things you create. And it’s nice to get out and talk with friends and strangers about books you like. I hope by this point next year I’ll have a list for y’all about all the stuff I got signed in 2013.