Joseph-Beth Booksellers, in Charlotte, is one of the most impressive bookstores I’ve been to in a while. It’s huge, like a library, divided into sections that feel distinct and invite leisurely browsing and reading. My dad was able to order a sandwich and a glass of whiskey in this bookstore. Just look at their fireplace:
The staff was immediately welcoming, and I noticed that they had a thoughtful and prominently displayed “staff picks” section at the front of the store (my mom bought Jason’s pick, The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis). I read there on Sunday afternoon.
This was a special reading for me because Jumbo Wilde was there to hear me read and visit with my parents, who traveled with me from Chapel Hill. Jumbo shares the book’s dedication with Richard, and I wish I’d said something at this reading about why. Although he might have a few things in common with one of the characters in Mattaponi Queen, the real reason is because for my whole life, Jumbo has been an example of not losing yourself in adulthood, of holding onto your creativity and your sense of humor. It is true that I was afraid he’d burn our house down with his somnolent smoking when he visited us, but I was always worried that our house would burn down (it didn’t).
Jumbo brought his family and practically his whole neighborhood. Here I am signing a book for Mrs. Wilde, his mom:
My mom’s cousin Anne and her daughter Torie also came to the reading.
Anne is a teacher who works with at-risk kids in Charlotte and is featured in a new documentary on PBS called “Souls of Our Teachers.” This is a subject that’s pretty close to my heart, so I’m excited to watch the documentary when it’s finished. Click here to watch a trailer for the film.
And I met several new people, including a writer and historian who used to be an assistant principal at King William High School (long replaced by football coaches and sadists by the time I went there).
Joseph-Beth has just opened a new bookstore in Fredericksburg, Virginia, which I’ll be excited to visit sometime. Here are a few things I really appreciated about the signing and reading:
-Betsy Dugan, the event coordinator, showed me around the st0re and even offered to photograph the event. I think she took excellent pictures. (And she had even researched how to say Mattaponi!)
-There was no hurry to get started (we were waiting for someone for a few minutes).
-Sitting down to read was a nice change.