Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Books and an impressive evening

I went to a program at church tonight. That's a bit remarkable in itself, because I've been fighting this urge to be a recluse. But I wanted to hear this, thought I'd get there a bit early, park right near the door, and all would be well. Fantasy--I parked at the far end of the far parking lot. There was a huge crowd.
The program featured the authors of Same Kind of Different As Me--Ron Hall, an international art dealer based in Fort Worth, and Denver Moore, a formerly homeless man. The two are best friends, but how they got there is a long story, dependent mostly on Hall's late wife Deborah. As a speaker, Ron Hall was passionate about his belief in our responsibility for the homeless, his Christian faith, and his devotion to and admiration for his late wife--and he was also one of the wittiest speakers I've ever heard. He described his gut-wrenching fear of the man who now sat quietly at the speaker's table, and he had us all laughing--but the udnerlying message of doing away with stereotypes was not to be missed.
I had gone expecting 35 people or so. Fellowship Hall, a really really large room, was absolutely crowded, and they kept bringing in more rows of chairs. I had heard the same thing happened when the pair spoke at a nearby Presbyterian church. I said to an acquaintance I sat next to that we had invited them to our TCU Press Autograph Extravganza and I hoped they weren't overexposed. "I doubt it," she said. Turns out everyone in the room almost, except me, had already read the book, but they wanted to hear the authors and they bought more books. And I did remember that a friend in Mississippi wrote me about how much she enjoyed reading it. It's number 481 or some such on amazon, which means it's really selling well. All proceeds go to homeless shelters in Fort Worth, and between royalties and collections taken at events, the team has raised over a million dollars to fight homelessness. I came home and ordered the book from amazon--the church had run out of copies to sell (makes me, as a publisher, wonder how many they ordered). All in all, an inspiring evening.
A different kind of book: I just finished The Memory Keeper's Daughter. Turns out it was not my neighbor but Jeannie who left the book for me. It's far different from the one above, but it interested me. Basically, it involves a doctor who is forced by a snowstorm, in the 1960s, to deliver his own twins. One, a girl, is unmistakably a Downs syndrome baby, and he gives her to a nurse to take to an institution, then tells his wife that the child died. The nurse, however, raises the child as her own. The doctor's knowledge and his wife sense of distance essentially ruins the rest of their lives, and the book is the working out of those lives, plus the lives of the daughter and her new family. Some of the characters are so introspective you want to shake them, and some of the plotting so convenient, you can see the author pulling strings, but I think it was of particular interest to me because I'm interested in that inter-relationship between children, biological parents, and non biological parents. Even as old as my children are, the question lingers in the back of my mind: what would I do if one of their biological parents suddenly appeared on the scene. Of course, as the years go by, it seems less and less likely--but the thought is there. Maybe I should write my own book.

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