Saturday, August 13, 2016

Book signings

     A book signing is an odd tradition. The author gathers together his family and friends and what interested parties he can lure into the same room. He subjects them to what is in essence a sales pitch, reads from his book then begs them to buy it. Incredibly, many do, and they line up while he takes a fat marker and scribbles his name all over copies of the pristine book to ... show what? A kind of "Kilroy was here!" territory marking? Because it's the one time in life when you're encouraged to write in books? To make it more valuable should that author turn out to be Hemingway? The odds of that are worse than a lottery ticket. 
     Maybe it's a chance to breath life into the silent, lonely world of books. To hold a kind of church service to something that, like a religion, gives our lives structure and meaning. Mine anyway. For whatever reason the tradition exists, a tradition it is, and I'm not one to buck it.  Just the opposite; I embrace it, as welcome communality in an all-too-solitary profession. 
     I almost forgot this part, but I suppose it's also a chance to meet the author. Never a high priority for me, since there's an author everywhere I go. But I see a certain novel appeal for others.
     The University of Chicago Press is publishing Out of the Wreck I Rise: A Literary Companion to Recovery on Sept. 5, and I have a busy itinerary of signings and readings, which you can always find under "Book signings" at the side of my blog. I thought I'd roll it out here, as fit Saturday fare—the contest can wait a week. 

 Thursday, Sept. 8, 7 p.m. -- The Poetry Foundation, 61 W. Superior. Join Tony Fitzpatrick, Rick Kogan and Carol Marin as we read the book's "Family" chapter. Co-author Sara Bader will be there from New York City to answer questions and sign the book with me. 

Friday, Sept. 9, 7 p.m. -- Book Stall, 81 Elm St., Winnetka. A reading and signing at this beloved North Shore institution. I'll be joined by co-author Sara Bader. And yes, there will be wine and cheese.

Thursday, Sept. 15,  12-2 p.m., Atlas Stationers,  227 W. Lake Street. There are no bookstores in the Loop, to speak of, so when the "Chicago" book was published, my friends at Atlas stepped up threw me a well-attended signing. They're doing it again. 

Westlake, Ohio
Saturday, Sept. 17, 1 p.m.  Barnes & Noble, 198 Crocker Park Blvd, Westlake, Ohio.  The Plain Dealer is running an interview, so I shrugged and decided to go to Cleveland and sign some books. I'll be on Alan Cox's show on WMMS Sept. 16 at 5:20 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 19, 7 p.m. -- 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th. Kennedy Forum executive director Kelly O'Brien and I will talk about the challenges of sobriety, followed by a signing.  

Thursday, Sept. 22, 7 p.m. Bookends & Beginnings, 1712 Sherman Ave., Evanston. This is the site of the old Bookman's Alley bookstore, which I patronized for more than 30 years. It was bought and revitalized by Jeff Garrett and Nina Barrett, enthusiastic supporters of the book. It's a sprawling, comfortable location Roger Carlson hosted a memorable night when "Drunkard" was published, and I'm expecting no less here, as I read my favorite passages from the book and answer questions.

Saturday, Sept. 24, Pygmalion Festival, 1:45 p.m., reading at Exile on Main Street, 100 N. Chestnut, Champaign, Illinois.  

Have a bookstore and want an event? Contact me at 


  1. Just out of curiosity, where are those cute statuettes located?


    1. Whoops, I meant to put that in a caption. Cleveland Public Library.

  2. I've never been to a book signing, but when I'm at a concert and I like the soloist's performance (which I almost always do...why else would I be there?) and he or she is selling CDs, I always buy one and get it signed. It's a way to show support and appreciation. Plus you build up a collection of CDs that would be hard or impossible to get otherwise.

    Bitter Scribe

  3. Wow! You're going to real bookstores. Cool. I thought those were extinct.

    1. Not only are they not extinct, but they're reproducing. Bookends & Beginnings is only a couple years old.


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