Thursday evening officially started off with the informal EWN Get Together. Blown away would be the way I'd put the response. The first few people who arrived were Philip F. Deaver, Jim Tomlinson, and Cliff Garstang. When Aaron Hamburger also showed up with a friend, we went to a spot and moved three tables together, creating a space for about 20 to 25 people. As some left, others arrived over the next few hours. The group of people I consider some of my closest friends from Michigan set up shop over in a corner (Jeff Parker, Aaron Burch, Dwayne Hayes, Jessica Bomarito, Stefan and Sanaz Kiesbye and I believe Jeff's buddy Jonathan Fink). A mess of people from SIU's MFA program (every student but one in their program came - that's how to represent at AWP - a bunch I only know by first names and some I don't even know at all, but Jason Lee Brown, Andrew Lewellen, Desiree Dighton, Alex (I want to say Lumens), Chris Bryson, Mary Keck, and Kurt were all there for the long haul) were there in force and had a couple of tables of their own.
Ed Falco stopped by with two of his graduate students, David Lynn was in the area, Soniah Kamal stopped by, as did Annie Gilson. Maryanne Stahl popped in (I think. It's also possible Maryanne stopped by after my panel this a.m. and I cannot remember when I spoke with her - either time was a bit overwhelming), Kelly Shriver did as well. Nicole Kelby came by and entertained me with stories for a while. Hannah Tinti and Maribeth Batcha came by with Pei-Ling Lue, Devin Emke and Katie Sexton from One Story. The quartet of Kellie Wells, Meg Sefton, Stacy Barton and Rachel Cantor swung on in, had to sit at a separate table and I apologize immensely for never getting over to talk to them until seeing them put their coats back on. Stacy did come back and hang out once it was just myself and the SIU gang. Xujun Eberlein stopped in for a bit. Michael Czyzniejewski popped in for a nice discussion, as did Quinn Dalton, who showed up when many others were wandering, allowing me to have a nice long conversation with one of the longer standing members of the EWN that showed up, which was very nice.
Update: Please, feel free to mention in the comments that you were there if I've forgotten to name you. Beyond missing Gayle Brandeis' name (her new book is in stores as of last week), I know I also forgot to mention in an earlier post that I ran into Lee Martin and Eileen Pollack Thursday morning in between panels.
I've also heard that Carolyn "Pinky" Kellogg and Gwenda Bond showed up, walked around the bar unable to find us, and took off for brighter pastures - I hope not too many others did, it's not like anybody knew wtf I looked like before this week. My apologies for not keeping my head up at all times and noticing you.
To those who did show up - huge appreciations from this end - it was truly a much larger congregation than I had ever imagined would wander on in.
Afterwards, the SIU contingent and I left the sports bar and bumped back into the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti/Pensacola (FL) contingent just getting back from a party. We all headed over to the Hilton Lobby Bar to join the nightly throng. Here I bumped into Carolyn Kellogg, and met Gwenda Bond for the first time, as well as her husband Christopher Rowe, Gavin Grant (Small Beer Press), Kelly Link, Jeff Vandermeer, Anne Vandermeer, and Jedediah Berry. I also had the pleasure of meeting Andrew Ervin, writer of both fiction and many great book reviews. This would be the first of many, many times I got to bump into, and chat with, Andrew, to my own good fortune. Andrew is also an Assistant Editor for Ninth Letter. With Andrew were Cory Holding and Juan Sanchez, both Editorial Assistants for the journal, and Russ, whose title, and last name, I missed hearing over the week.