Yes, I've been quiet here but that doesn't mean I'm quiet everywhere. I've spent the last 10 days driving all over the Twin Cities, getting lost and speaking at events, and, at work, doing my own job as well as filling in as the page one editor during a time of incredibly grim but important news. (Japan! Libya! Yemen!)
One more obligation tonight after work, and then things calm down and I can get back to what I do best: yakking away here about my dogs and my park, and napping.
The photo above was taken on Friday night, at the Readers Choice Awards event at the Loft in Minneapolis. The finalists in the Minnesota Book Awards each got five minutes to try to impress the crowd of about 100 people in hopes of winning their votes.
I was not entirely sure how one goes about winning 100 people's votes in five minutes, but after Friday night I think I know; the other finalists (21 of the 32 were able to attend) were amazing. They were funny, sincere, and fascinating, and many of them had great visual aids. (Some of them also went way over their allotted five minutes, but oh well, it was all in the name of entertainment, and they were very entertaining.)
I was the second to speak, and I got up and said that I realized I had just five minutes to sear my book in their brains, and in order to do that I would ask them to think of popular culture references: the TV show "Mad Men" for the first half of the book (office setting, sexist men, lots of cigarette smoking, women being kept down but starting to rise, although none of the women in my office ever wore bullet bras) and the movie "Dr. Zhivago" for the second half (no snow, but Russia). OK, it was funnier than that--at least, people laughed--but it only took about three minutes and then the pressure was off and I could relax and listen to everyone else
And I have to say, I fell in love with just about all of them, and I can tell you without hesitation that even if you don't think of yourself as someone who reads much poetry, you will love the work of Connie Wanek. She's a Duluth poet, modest and brilliant, and she read two short poems that told stories and brought pictures to mind and then sort of flew around inside my head for the rest of the evening.
The picture books guys were great, too, two authors of two very different but such imaginative picture books. "My Heart is Like a Zoo," and "1+1=5"(and after you read the book you will agree that one plus one really does equal five).
Peter Bognanni, who wrote a novel called "The House of Tomorrow," was so funny we all were nearly falling off our chairs. It was a wonderful evening (followed by wine and lemon bars!) and a great reminder, if we needed reminding, of what amazing talented writers we have in Minnesota.
Tonight I'm speaking at one last readers' choice event--me and another memoirist--and then we sit back and wait for the votes to be counted.
On the home front, Boscoe continues to sleep upstairs with us and shows no sign of his previous infection (though I have to admit we are constantly vigilant and every time he staggers to his feet we watch him warily, wondering if he's going to pee; he does not). He can't really manage the back stairs anymore, so we have to carry him out into the yard and back into the house and you should not be surprised if I post here some day that I have completely thrown my back out.
That said, he's eating well, alert, and goes into the play bow with Riley every now and then. Riley, who we nicknamed "Prince Charles" ("Will I ever get to be king??") now carries the title of senior dog, just to make him feel better. Boscoe has been promoted to senior dog emeritus. Everybody's happy.