Wednesday evening, in celebration of the publication of Clear Heart, I gave a reading at Sullivan's Pub in La Honda. Sullivan's is a new and wildly popular place to drink and dine, attracting a typical cross-section of humanity:
The pub is divided into two rooms, one for dining and one for the bar. I read in the bar. The usual suspects were there:
First I read the opening scene of the novel in which Wally is nailed to a rafter and left hanging in the air. Since some in the audience had ordered pizza or fish and chips, I skipped the detailed description of how it feels to hang with a nail through your wrist, the bone popping against the steel shaft and so on. I think they appreciated my discretion. And they seemed to enjoy the drama.
Next, I read the scene in which Opal quizzes Juke, learning that Wally writes a letter to his wife "every forkin' day." It's a somewhat comic situation, and folks laughed at the appropriate places - something you can never count on as an author, and very gratifying to hear. They started echoing the word "forkin'" which was kind of cool.The black pipe near my elbow is the chimney of the wood-burning stove. I was roasting as I read.
It's a little risky for an author to give a reading in a bar as people are getting lubricated. This was no wine-and-cheese literary event. La Honda is more of a sweatshirt and mudboots kind of place with a wonderful mix of people who don't, or won't, fit into the suburbs over the hill even if they could afford the price of housing over there. (Another tavern in La Honda found it necessary to post a sign saying NO CHAINSAWS AT THE BAR.) In the above photo the man on the left is an electrician, the man on the right is the chief technician at a biotech company. Among the 50 or so people crowded into that little bar were carpenters, an acupuncturist, a septic tank installer, a nuclear physicist.
So I learned something. And it's not something every writer can say: Clear Heart is the kind of novel you can read in a bar.
Terry Adams read several poems from his book Adam's Ribs. Thomas Krempertz read a few poems. Everybody says they had a great time. I certainly did. Sullivan's plans to have a Book Night on the first Wednesday of every month featuring local writers. I plan to return and read again. Come on down, have a beer, give a listen. Or read something of your own. You'll find a warm room and a warm crowd.
(A little disclosure: The pictures of the usual suspects were taken on a different night. But they serve as a sampling of this night, too.)