Thursday a surprise email arrives from the printers. The books are ready a week early. I immediately start to look for a car to rent. All the regular companies can’t accommodate on such short notice unless I’m willing to pay an arm and a leg. I’m not. So I try a site I’d never heard of called Kyte. They promise to deliver a car to my doorstep and pick it back up when I’m done with it. There’s no way I can make it to Saline, Michigan by 4pm EST today so I book the car for Friday.
The online form is mostly by-the-numbers except for the insurance part. They don’t seem to offer any basic liability insurance like every rent-a-car company does. Instead, there’s a blank where you put in your own, without any verification, then move on to the payment page. I hesitate, then type ‘State Farm’ and keep going.
McNaughton & Gunn printed my last four books but I picked them up in Wyoming, Michigan at Dekker Bindery. This time, since it’s a paperback, I’m going straight to the source. It’s a longer drive and I don’t know any weird family restaurants nearby to have my post-pickup lunch in Saline. Also, there are only four boxes rather twenty-plus as before. I listen to “Cat Person” and Other Stories on the way there; Ill Will on the way back.
Back home by mid-afternoon I pack and address preorders while I wait for the Kyte guy to pick up the Jeep SUV that I got instead of the “economy” car I’d booked. After I hand him the keys I get on my bike and pedal to Palette & Chisel to put in an appearance at the cityscape show opening.
Next morning I get on the Archer bus with a rolling suitcase full of books. The driver turns onto Polk as usual, not knowing Dearborn’s blocked for the book fair. I tell him as I get off. Hope he maneuvered his bus down Plymouth Court okay.
This year for some reason they’ve shunted the small press tent off to the outskirts of the fair rather than being in the thick of it on Dearborn as before. I joke with Jason about who he pissed off to get us banished this way. it’s good to have Mallory and Bulent here to shoot the shit with. I cover the table fee in a few hours so the dark feelings mostly keep at bay. It’s still not easy to smile at people for so many hours.
Crazy people come to street fairs. One clearly unhinged character insisted on my signing his petition to get on the ballot for Chicago mayor. I did so only after he bought a book. Quid pro quo. Toward the end of the day I saw Jerry Stahl stalk by, looking like a nervous dying vampire. I ate a couple of slices of pizza and took the bus home.
The forecast for Sunday is hard rain. Who knows how long I’ll last out there under that tent. Maybe I’ll update this letter tonight when I get back home but probably not. I’ll be too spent to write anymore by then.
—Here are some sketches from Joe Meno’s book launch at Book Cellar in Lincoln Square. His book’s well worth your time.
—Listen to my talk with Keefe Jackson then tune in Wednesday for one with forensics student and former mixologist Alicia Martinez.
—I made a new page for film clips and video ephemera on my site.