David Sedaris was in Louisville last night for a free reading/book signing at Carmichael’s. I can’t remember when or why I discovered Sedaris's writings, but I did, and I’ve been a big fan ever since. Putting it bluntly, his shit cracks me up.
So I ventured down to Frankfort Avenue for the big hoedown, and it was indeed a hoedown: There must’ve been 300 people milling about the store, with an additional 100 or so crammed inside. All the available seats in the store were, naturally, long gone by the time I made it there, but I managed to find a perch on the steps leading directly into the store.
A lone clerk from Carmichael’s was posted in front, and it was her unfortunate duty to act as a sentry so that nobody could enter. As it happened, there would be standing room for the reading, so at 7 p.m., they let 20 people into the store. Due to my fortunate positioning, I was the first one in, so I got to see Sedaris read “Baby Einstein” from his latest book, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. After the reading, he told a few well-rehearsed anecdotes and then answered questions from the audience (these were also answered with well-rehearsed anecdotes).
Then came the signing.
The signing was well publicized. Carmichael’s had signs posted six weeks in advance of the event, and they partnered with several local businesses, including the public radio stations, that in turn publicized the event as well. The key component of the promotion was that to get Sedaris’s autograph, one had to purchase one of his books from Carmichael’s so that one could get a “ticket.” These tickets were grouped by letter of the alphabet and after the reading and a short intermission, Group A would line up and have their books signed, then Group B and so on. (I was in Group P.)
As I stood at my post by the front door waiting to get in, a steady stream of people approached the Carmichael's clerk and demanded to be let in, assuming that their ticket granted them a seat inside. It was kind of amusing watching each and every one of 'em get shot down as the clerk patiently explained that the tickets were for the signing afterwards, not the reading. None of them totally lost their shit, but several did walk off in a huff.
Better still -- and by "better," I mean, "even more annoyingly," -- there were those who hadn't even bothered to buy their books for signing. Talk about literally waiting until the last minute. These nitwits didn't even get tickets, as they had run out. They were told that they could have their books signed, but they'd have to wait until Groups A-Z were done.
So anyhoo, there were a few hundred people gathered at the intersection of Frankfort and Bayley avenues, all waiting for David Sedaris to sign their books.
I got home just after midnight. But hey, I got my copies of Naked and Dress Your Family autographed!
I shudder to think what would happen if Chuck Palahniuk gave a reading.