Friday, August 19, 2011

Nick Hornby

Fall of 2007 was the year I really started to hit the book signings hard. I was in Milwaukee every other weekend for a signing or an event of some kind. Seeing as I had just started going to school again, this was an eventful but utterly exhausting time. But when one of those events is Nick Hornby, you don't care how tired you are. Harry Schwartz books in Milwaukee had booked a huge hall at Alverno college for this ticketed event. A hall that would not be used. I called the bookstore in advance to see what the signing restrictions where, after that call I had a feeling that the ticketed event wasn't all that in demand when they desperately said, "Bring all your books, everything you have." I personally was excited for this. More books for me, yeah! But also, he was pitching a YA book about teenage pregnancy and you HAD to buy the book to attend. There are a lot of lax people out there who just don't get it should be mandatory that you buy the book, and this just made it the way life should be. So, attendance it would seem would be low. That and the cold and wet night probably didn't help.

My friend and I left Madison way later than intended (he forgot what time it was) and so instead of a luxurious dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, we where eating as fast as we could at a nearby food court, following which we almost missed the turnoff, got partially lost on the Alverno campus and almost hit Nick Hornby in the parking lot while he was out having a smoke. I don't think he noticed the almost vehicular manslaughter... at least he didn't give any indication that he did. So, we get there and are escorted from the huge theatre into this tiny little room, the kind you expect Christmas pageants to be played on, or small town pantos. There couldn't have been more than 30 people in the audience, but I was thrilled. I was in a uncomfortable wooden seat but enthralled by Nick talking about how he thought John Cusack was too pretty for High Fidelity, as was Hugh Grant for About a Boy, because he viewed his characters more like regular people like himself. He also went on to say how he was grieving missing his football games while stateside and had to hunt for pubs that broadcast them. Also, he was saying how much his coolness factor had risen since he knew Nicholas Holt, the "boy" in About a Boy before he became hugely popular in England, even getting him to narrate Slam, which is odd, because when I read the book I could hear the lead as Nicholas... and no, I wasn't listening to the tape and he doesn't reside in my head. Nick also was talking about how heartbreaking teenage pregnancy is in England, where young girls are getting pregnant on purpose because they think it will make life better.

After his talk my friend and I where front and center, head of the queue. I got to talk to Nick a little, oddly enough mainly about his short story collection that he edited, Speaking with the Angel. I had felt an instant connection to the book, one, because his short story is about the mockery of modern art and two, because on the front cover the little dolls they use to represent the people... well I HAD those dolls. I got to talk all about the set and he was interested (or at least very good at feigning interest). I remember that set so well, such detail, down to tiny forks and napkin rings. The set was Swedish and VERY 80s, with a sectional couch and a three story living room with sunroof that sadly got damaged by our air conditioner unit one year. I remember a went through two of the "teenage daughter" who represents Helen Fielding on the dust jacket because her head broke off. After that we used the facilities, very very small bathrooms, and headed back home, lots of great books to read and lots of great memories... even if none of them got to include Cheesecake.


Wow. I think that I remember playing with that doll set and furniture. Did you find that image somewhere, or is that a photo of your personal collection?

I found it online, mine would a) not be in that good of shape and b) have it's pieces scattered all over the place because I moved furniture freely between the dollhouses, AND I also moved some of the furniture to Playmobile as well.

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