My First Public Event

On April 22nd, a bright and (almost too) warm Sunday afternoon, a wonderful couple (he's a long-time member of my book club) hosted a "Meet Austin's Newest Author" event at their home. The home, itself, was part of the attraction, I'm sure, since it's part of an old Austin family's compound in which five family homes nestle in a forested area on the top of one of Austin's hills. They had several little tables with wine and cheese set up, as well as water, grapes, and some nuts. There was 50's and 60's oldies rock and roll music playing on Pandora to outside speakers. Very cool atmosphere indeed.

My wife, Diana, who is recovering from a severe hemorrhagic stroke last November, went with me, as well as our son, Jimmy, who was a tremendous help. Jimmy brought a durable PA system as well as helped park cars and load and unload the cartons of books we brought to offer. The "sales table" was fully shaded under the roof of a very unusual structure, which we learned was a 1950's era fallout shelter that, in case the Russians nuked us, was recommended by the authorities at the time. Presently, it's a massive concrete structure which is for the most part used to store things that the hosts "have forgotten about," to quote the lady.

They built a very nice rustic roof overhead, and the sales table along with stacks of both Hardcovers and Softcovers were arranged. A young lady who is working with me as my publicist for Texas helped by selling books and keeping track of everything since I was swept (a dramatic and probably over-the-top word) into meeting and greeting people, and signing their copies.

At 4 p.m. I began the "talk," which ran almost 40 minutes. Frankly, I sort of lost track of the time, but everyone said it was interesting, and so it apparently went well. Since this was a group of friends and people I know fairly well, it was a personal journey of the book: how it came to be written in the first place, and how I learned the mechanics of writing it.

Diana, Jimmy, and I arrived at 2 p.m. and didn't leave until 7 p.m., by which time Diana was completely exhausted. I was a bit angry at myself for submitting her to the heat and all the people, but she probably was the real attraction, and lots and lots of people sat with her and hugged her. That was lovely.

Oh, the "author" probably didn't completely botch it up, so it was a successful day overall. I can't express my thanks and appreciation to our hosts. The setting was amazing, and all went well.

My next "event" is mid-May with a women's book club in an outskirt of Austin. They are reading Reunion now. These ladies are all well-educated and sophisticated. I look forward to getting their feedback and the female perspectives. It's interesting that so far, the women readers have reacted differently from the men readers. The men are impacted by the father-son relationship. All in all, I've gotten such varied comments. The book seems to affect people on many different levers. Let me know your comments here, as I find these fascinating.

Jim George

3 Responses

  1. Sara S.
    Hi there, Mr. George: I have just finished reading the compelling "Reunion" and am curious if you have had any reactions -- positive or negative -- from your readers on the racial story-lines in your book. Personally, I found it fascinating to read about Jimmy's band adventures as well as his parents' reaction to Susie's proposed black roommate. I wonder if you hear from any of your former classmates from southern West Virginia about those pre-civil rights days. From my view point, those sections of your book were essential to the tone of that time period. Well done! I commend you for including the darker sides of "Reunion".
  2. Thanks for the comment, as well as the question. You have the honor of being the very first reader to comment. Who knows, perhaps you're the first to find the new blog! Oops, that probably does not deserve an exclamation point. To your point, many of the people who were my classmates (and/or were a bit older or a bit younger) in high school at Princeton, West Virginia—that seems much better than WV—have emailed me with comments. Many more females than males have written. Not sure what that signifies, if anything. The general sense of the high school comments is that most were so pleased to see something in writing that captured the time and the place that they were not commenting about the prose, the dialogue, the word choice, or the more serious theme of the narrator's relationship and torment with his father. Most people were trying to speculate on "who was that certain character." Or they would say "I was back in that dance hall," or "That scene reminded me of a similar experience my friends and I had." While that is fun and I got a lot of kick out of it, as a writer, it bypassed some of the feedback I wanted to get. But there were some very poignant comments, such as this one from a woman in my class: ***************************************************************************************** As a former English teacher, I read with interest your character development. I was particularly interested in your weaving into the story line the relationship between "Jimmy and his colored friend." Your descriptions of your high school friends was interesting from a man's point of view. A woman would have described "boys" from a different view point. I would have been looking at the "cool" ones who wore pegged levis and white T-shirts. Or with a pink shirt and black tie. I also was impressed with the relationship Jim had with his friends. I'm told that men are not into "bonding", but your relationships with your friends are the kind that make reunions a necessary part of our lives. ***************************************************************************************** This is interesting since it deals with the writing itself. It also touches on the racial sensitivity, and also deals with the "voice" the narrator used—a boy's or a man's voice. The writer comments on that and notes that she would have described people differently. I did get another comment, although I can't seem to find it now. The reader observed that he (or she, can't recall) was a bit surprised that a white boy and a black boy rode in a car together to dance gigs and never had any unpleasant experiences, such as people hounding them or giving them trouble from other cars. As I recall from the time, there was very little trouble, if any, along those lines. Perhaps my own experience was fortunate, since those scenes were based on real experiences. Not a single person has commented on "Susie's" experience with considering a black roommate at West Virginia University. I'd love to hear from someone about that. Jim George
  3. Peggy
    Jim, I am still reading "Reunion" on my second go around and am able to analyze it a little better this time. I think the writing is wonderful, your characterations are outstanding and it is so easy to read. Having been born and raised just across a mountain range from you, I can just hear that West Virginia, Virginia twang, no problem. The description of the hilly mountain roads make me think I am back home.

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