If you do a blogsearch for AWP Atlanta, you are likely to come across a number of posts about what a cf the bookfair was. I saw that Paul Guest likened it to the inside of a casino, which is pretty apt.

I made five or six quick trips through the bookfair, and my goal was to at least walk by every table. I'm pretty sure, though, thanks to the blog at One Story, that I missed an entire section of the bookfair, because I don't remember seeing, well, One Story, or The Land-Grant College Review, or AGNI, or any number of other booths. Maybe I was too busy playing the slots, waiting for a spot to open up at the Hold 'Em table.

I'd told myself that I could only spend a hundred bucks at the bookfair, and I think that's pretty close to how things shook out. Here's a list of the loot:

From New Michigan Press: The Moon is a Lighthouse by Peter Markus; Feign by Kristy Bowen. I've read plenty online by each of these writers, but I've always been too lazy to get out my credit card and order their chapbooks. Now I have them, and Mr. Monson even cut me a little deal.

From Flume Press: I Call This Flirting by Sherrie Flick. I attended a panel on fiction chapbooks, and the publisher of Flume Press was there. He talked about this book in such a way that made me want to buy it, and I'm glad I did. While drinking an iced Americano outside the Marriott Saturday morning, I started reading the stories (pretty much all flash-fictions) and they are fantastic.

From Noemi Press: Disciplines by Diana George. The publisher of Noemi Press was also at the above-mentioned panel, and she, too, sold me on this one. I started reading it Thursday night and was loving what I read. The language is stellar.

From FC2: Hydroplane by Susan Steinberg; Michael Martone by Michael Martone; The Complete Tales of Ketzia Gold by Kate Bernheimer; The Complete Tales of Merry Gold by Kate Bernheimer. I attended a panel led by Bernheimer--my favorite of the conference--on fairy tales and contemporary fiction, and after the panel (which also featured Stacy Levine, Kelly Link, and Rikki Ducornet) I immediately went downstairs to buy Bernheimer's books. When I found out that FC2 took debit cards, my order expanded a little. Also: After I picked up Michael Martone, the woman working the booth handed me a name tag with Michael Martone written on it, and said, "Would you like to be Michael Martone?" I told her I would, and I stuck the name tag to the lapel of my blazer. Now, one of the things that bugs me about places like AWP is how intently everyone stares at everyone else's name tags. I had been less sensitive to name tag-glaring this year than I was the last time I attended AWP, but after I stuck the Michael Martone tag on, I became quite aware of how many people were checking out my alternative name tag. These people tended to make faces that were far from smiles. More like they were watching a squirrel bounce off a car tire. Eventually, the tag started to unstick and curl at the edges, so I stuck it to my briefcase instead.

And lit mags: The bookfair is a lit mag haven, and the last time I attended AWP I left the Hilton in Chicago with about twenty of them. What can I say, I love literary magazines more than I probably should. This year, though, I didn't buy many. I think it had something to do with 1) the layout of the bookfair and 2) not wanting to feel like I was networking.

I did, though, buy two issues of Backwards City Review. I've been following online what they've been up to for a while now, and I was happy to give them ten bucks. I found out later that one of the issues has a story by Douglas Watson, an old acquaintance of mine, in it. I started reading the story and was pretty awed, but I haven't yet had the time to finish it.

And I picked up the latest issue of Hobart. Though I said above that I didn't want to network at the bookfair, I did introduce myself to Aaron Burch, but mostly because I like the stories I've read by him and because he's always written rejection letters that I've appreciated. Well, for those reasons and because I like everything he does with Hobart. So we chatted for a bit, and he ended up saying, "Don't I have a story by you in my inbox?" It was true; he does. Even though I'm sure Mr. Burch mentioned it only as a way of acknowledging he had some idea of who I was, I couldn't help but become a little self-conscious, and worry that he'd think I only stopped by to try and boost my chances that the story would be accepted. I wanted to say, "Hey, I have a story out at One Story, but I didn't introduce myself to Hannah Tinti when I saw her at the EWN get-together Thursday night." Anyway. Aaron seemed as cool in person (even if he did make me a little self-conscious about that submission) as he has always seemed online, and their latest issue, #7: The Art and Stories Issue, is pretty amazing.

No comments: