I've done a handful of public readings in my life, and while none has been completely unpleasurable, probably the best so far occurred about a month ago. The Chicago-based Great Books Foundation held a launch event in connection with their “Big Ideas in Popular Culture” trilogy; GBF bigwig Nancy Carr, my old crony and co-blogger, invited me to read the Magic Circles excerpt that was in included in the pop music volume. The event was held at Bookends and Beginnings, a warm, eclectic, inviting independent bookstore in Evanston, just off the Northwestern campus.
Also on the bill was Walter J. Podrazik, professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago, contributor to the television volume, and – most significantly for me – co-author of All Together Now: The First Complete Beatles Discography, 1961-1975, one of the first Beatles books I ever owned, and probably the one I have most often referenced in my own Beatle writing. We were introduced by Valentina Texera Parissi, CEO of the Great Books Foundation, and moderated by GBF’s former president, Joe Coulson. Wally signed my copy of All Together Now, and we had a great time reading our stuff and answering questions from an engaged group of listeners.
Doing my bit to support independent bookstores – it was, as it happens, Independent Bookstore Day – I picked up copies of Steve Erickson’s Shadowbahn and Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad. I even got a free “Big Ideas” T-shirt! The whole weekend couldn't have been nicer – the GBF people were marvelous, and the event itself was all I could have wanted it to be.