Some might call it a perfect storm: the first reading at a new bookstore (Literati in Ann Arbor), a brand new chapbook by a local author (Keith Taylor) and some nice weather (almost 50 degrees). They would be wrong. That is in no way a valid explanation--I didn't hear the post-mortem voice of Mark freaking Wahlberg telling me that things were all right. Instead I had Steve Gillis texting me "No Fucking Parking." A perfect storm would not have caused the parking structure across the street from Literati to have a big ZERO on the sign that shows how many available parking spots remain some twenty minutes before 8 p.m. (I've never seen that sign under 30). It wouldn't explain that the city block sized, eight story, parking structure two blocks away from Literati that must have spots in the four figures showing 34 available spots fifteen minutes before 8 p.m.
There's really only possible reason for all of this and it's that Keith Taylor is too fucking popular. By the time I parked and hustled down 7.5 flights of stairs and two blocks north back to Literati it was a few minutes after 8 p.m. and there was a crowd milling about outside the store of between 10 and 15 people. Not waiting at the corner to cross with the light, but standing outside this new bookstore, looking in the window. Upon entering the store and seeing the small sign with Keith's name and an arrow pointing down the stairs, I glanced in that direction and noted that the stairs were most likely seeing fire protection laws violated (but let's keep that between me and you four people glancing at this if you've lasted this far). Apparently the entire downstairs was packed--I don't know for sure as trying to go down those stairs was just not going to happen. There were actually more people milling about upstairs, waiting for the reading to end so they could get a glimpse of Mr. Taylor, than I've seen at probably 97% of the readings I've attended in my life (note--the only ONE I know for sure that had at least as many people? Keith Taylor was one of the readers).
I can only assume Keith was amazing. He has been every time I've been fortunate to get in to see him without camping out beforehand like I was attending a One Direction concert. Who knows though, maybe he read an essay about why Calgary's 14 degree spring days are superior to Ann Arbor's crisp fall football Saturdays. I heard muffled clapping through the floor and finally found myself getting a little claustrophobic upstairs as it got to the pont where you could not move without bumping into somebody. I decided to buy a book and wander around outside for a bit. I picked up 70% Acrylic 30% Wool by Viola Di Grado, translated by Michael Reynolds (Europa Editions, 2013) and hit the street. I wandered over to West End Books and found three Cynthia Ozick titles I'd yet to purchase (yes, I finally wrote down the titles I already had): Heir to the Glimmering World; The Cannibal Galaxy; and Art & Ardor: Essays. I walked back by Literati but it was still really crowded. I decided to come up and "see" Keith Taylor via his website. The man is simply too f*&king popular.