I’m still recovering. The Easton Book Festival was a fine example of liminal time. Ordinary time—the day-to-day, or “workaday” variety of time—may pay the bills but comes up short on meaning. Literary time is rare and sacred. No, there weren’t great crowds at my two sessions. In fact, the crowds were modest. More people showed up for my church presentation on Sunday morning than came to either of my more “secular” presentations. The festival, however, wasn’t about numbers. It was about the love of books. Much of the time those of us who love reading are perceived as “Poindexters” who deny the excitement of a life spent in sports and adventure. There’s no reason, however, that the two can’t get along. After all, authors write about adventure and sports as well as religion and philosophy.
As Halloween nears and November encroaches on the days of trees losing their leaves, I reflect on how my entire October was leading up to this. Half a year ago I was contacting libraries and bookstores about doing Holy Horror presentations in the autumn. Only the Moravian Book Shop and the Easton Book Festival took me up on my proposal, but they allowed me, as my wife expressed it, “to put myself out there.” To be part of the conversation. People are busy, I know. Still, I came away with the business cards of a few more successful writers, and I gave away a handful of bookmarks for my too-expensive tome. I was after conversation, not fame.
Although I met the director of the festival a couple of times, I don’t know the results. I do sincerely hope that another will be offered next year. Gatherings of the bookish are dicey affairs. I attended the banquet not knowing a soul, but left having learned of others nearby who practice the craft. Many had made that transition from workaday to writer. I learned that getting the pennies I do for my books is, really, an aberration of the academic publishing scheme. Most academics have good paying university jobs and don’t really need the cash. Book festivals are opportunities to learn, classrooms in everyday life. I met authors of topics more obscure than my own who’d earned healthy advances. This was liminal time indeed. I feel honored to have been included among those feted for putting their words out there for reading and possible rejection. Books are conversations, and in a world far too busy, book festivals are a source of truly significant discussions. Long may they continue!