As anybody who has ever visited New York knows, NYC is expensive. This usually includes entertainment or things to do. Yet, there are a couple of exceptions. Things that are fun and free. TimeOut even has its own section: Free Things to Do Today. Among these free things are tons of readings (93 % of New Yorkers have either published, finished or started writing a book, remember?), most notably those at Barnes & Noble. You’ll find recent events here.
As I needed some reading material anyway, I found my way to Barnes & Noble Union Square last night to attend the reading/Q&A/Book Signing of a long-time favorite writer of mine, Tom Robbins, who’s books include “Even Cowgirls Get The Blues” and “Jitterbug Perfume”. Tom Robbins is 81, but he looks like he is in his mid- to late-fifties. Tall, bearded, he entered the stage and presented his newest book Tibetian Peach Pie, an autobiography.
I was always reluctant to tell this story, because people might think I am crazy. But then I realize I am 81. I don’t care any more.
He opens the night with a story about his experiences with LSD. You can read up the story in his book, which I highly recommend, so I won’t spoil the punchline. Yet, if you know Tom Robbins, you can guess it is wild and poetic. He continues with discribing his experiences being suspected by the FBI to be the Una Bomber. And, of course – know your audience – he closes with a story about New York. Patiently, he answers Q&A questions; some of them even surprising for him. After that, he signs … and signs … and signs …
Thanks for such a great evening, Mr. Robbins.
Now, as a writer who does readings on a regular basis, I want to point out how perfectly organized the whole reading was (and I wish some German event planners would take a lesson from that): Barnes and Noble has its own event space with its own PA, a well-lit stage, ample seating (though they do priority seating for people who have bought the book of the night), a friendly announcer and their own way of handling signing the books. So, if you own a book shop or host readings, please take a look at Barnes & Noble to learn how it’s done.
UPDATE: The Barnes & Noble at Union Square sadly is no more. But there are tons of good book stores in NYC.