Monday, November 12, 2007

Miami Book Fair 2007

The 24th annual Miami Book Fair concluded yesterday. I'm still recovering. The fun of the book fair was greatly enhanced by the companionship of my blogfriend, the Imaginary Friend Known As Mostlylurking. She came in from Seattle, and that was very special. She'll be referred to as ML hereafter in this account.

Compared to last year's book fair, the weekend was more political, more educational, and less star-studded. All the events we attended were good, but all the high points somehow came back to Dave Barry.

Looking back on the weekend, trying to sort everything out, I got quite nostalgic about the role Dave Barry has played in my life since I came to south Florida in 1980. In Key West in the 80s, it was a regular ritual for my husband and me to take the Sunday paper to the beach, and for me to read Dave's column out loud to him. The couple who laughs together, as they say, might just still be married 26 years later.

The year our daughter was born, Dave's son Rob started kindergarten. The column he wrote on that occasion was not just funny, but could move a new parent from laughter to tears in the space of 15 seconds. I don't have a copy of it but I remember it very well.

When our baby was about six weeks old, we took her to the 4th annual Miami Book Fair. We walked the aisles of books and browsed the children's section, dreaming of the books we would read to our daughter as she grew older. We attended one author event: Dave Barry. The only specific thing I remember was he was making jokes about Robert Bork, who had been nominated for the Supreme Court. Dave was funny. I laughed, the audience laughed, it went on and on. The next day, our baby laughed for the very first time. I don't think it was a coincidence.

After all these years, all the humor, the Tropic Hunts and the book fairs, Dave seems like a member of our family or an old friend. Seeing his presentation this weekend was a priority. He did not disappoint.

He was presenting the book he wrote with Ridley Pearson, a prequel to Peter Pan--a children's book. But he knew who was there and why. "Are there any actual children in the room?" he asked, peering around the auditorium. There were--about four of them. So he obliged the rest of us with some classic humor. "I'm sixty!" he announced, and then dropped to the floor for a pushup demonstration. I couldn't see if they were real pushups, or one-handed or what. But it got a laugh. Then he talked about how when you get older you lose your nouns, which makes it difficult to speak coherently. The names of things and especially people, you know, you can think of the verbs and adjectives and even prepositions, but the nouns are elusive. He got his biggest laugh from the South Florida audience talking about hurricanes. He experienced Hurricane Andrew personally. He said after Andrew, the screen enclosure that had been at the back of his house was "orbiting the earth"--and he said, "you need screens in Florida, to keep the mosquitoes from stealing your patio furniture."

After the presentation, we lined up in the booksigning area. When we reached the head of the line, I said, "I bought the pre-autographed version of your book, so would you sign my book bag?"

Dave caught on right away, and there was a hint of envy in his voice when he said, "I didn't know Joel had..." (his voice trailed away, but the noun that was escaping him in his confusion was "merchandise.") [Reading his mind: I didn't know Joel had merchandise, hey what is up with this?] I told him, "Oh, he doesn't. These are Bootleg Boodle Bookbags™." He liked it.

Here we all are, kb, Ridley, Dave and ml:

Check back late tomorrow night: our next installment will be about the Rock Bottom Remainders, with VIDEO of the warmup act (really bad video of a very talented opening act.)


TBG said...

Woo hoo! Wish I had been there! Glad you caught up with our friends Dave and Ridley.


Needles said...

Oh, I do love the book bags. That is so right for the boodle even if the are bootlegged.


Anonymous said...

Wow, Kbert! Book Fair Blog already.

Light speed.

Congratulations for celerity.

Also for great reporting.

I'm taking a copy home.



Read/Think/Live said...

dr, I only wished I had time to do an embroidered version--the blogosaurus would be really cute as a needlework project. I can't imagine when I would have time to do that, though.

dad, thanks for stopping by. More to come...

Anonymous said...

Please tell Richard that I think his PARROT PAINTING projects quality in a very significant way.