Got my sister and friend, Ann, to head out to Ann Arbor yesterday in the late afternoon for some literary fun. We arrived at Nicola's Bookstore a little bit before 4 p.m. and the first person I saw was Steve Gillis (yes, out in public and hitting things like this more frequently), which I always love. Then I saw Unsaid's David McLendon, who let us know that the author/readers in question, Samuel Ligon and Robert Lopez, had talked to him earlier in the day and said they might be a little late. They were but that just meant a little more time to talk to Steve and David before they had arrived.
The two each read two stories from their most recent story collections--Sam from Wonderland (Lost Horse Press) and Robert from Good People (Bellevue Literary Press). Nicola's reading area is set up right outside their children's book section, which maybe at 7 or 8 p.m. readings is different, but at 4 p.m. (or a little bit later than that), there are going to be some kids in the area. There are two young boys who in ten or fifteen years will hear somebody utter "genital warts" and they will instantly, with no recollection of why, let that person know that whiskey will cure those thanks to Sam's wonderful reading of his short story, Pie & Whiskey.
Both Sam and Robert are excellent readers, slipping sightly into characters without overly doing so. All four stories were entertaining and had great usage of language. I didn't catch my mind wandering once, which I'm sad to admit is a bit rare for me at these things.
From there Beth, Ann and I headed out for a quick dinner at Fraser's Pub, where Ann's husband Tom joined us. After dinner, Beth, Ann and I headed over to Casa Hobart where Sam and Rob were going to read again, at 7 p.m. or so, along with Sean Kilpatrick, who read with his own usual enthusiasm and gusto and was a great opener to the evening.
I don't know if Sam and Robert did this for this very reason, but I'm going to hold onto the idea that they realized that Beth, Ann and I had just seen them hours ago and so they decided to each read two different stories than the two they'd each read earlier at Nicola's. These two couplets were easily as entertaining as the two they read in the store and if anything, I feel like Sam got into reading his even more--maybe it had to do with the elevated stage. In fact, some of us in attendance briefly believed that Robert was REALLY getting into his second story---one in which the narrator believed his apartment was slowly killing him---when he began to cough and choke up increasingly more frequently as he got through toward the end. Turned out though that he's allergic to cats and that's where the Hobart cat spends most of its time, up on that balcony area. So, he came back downstairs and finished up with copious amounts of water.
Then the two of them performed (and performed feels a better choice of word than read) a story they co-wrote, How to Direct a Major Motion Picture, with (assumedly) each of them reading the parts they wrote as they fired off commands and suggestions back and forth, sometimes slightly crossing over each other. The story is the last one in Robert's collection and is funny as hell.
It was an excellent six or so hours.