No, this blog is not written by Joates (I tend to squish words together…true story…once I tried to say the words guitar and case and the word that came out was gu-tase). But anyhow, I totally have to tell you what happened today at the Free Library Book Fair in Philadelphia.

So, I, like the rest of the book loving community, was be-bopping around the Ben Franklin Parkway today looking at all the cool books and publications at the book fair. I saw that Joyce Carol Oates was going to be speaking at 4pm and I have always been a fan of her dark and emotionally charged work, so I figured I would stick around and listen to her.

They had a bunch of her books for sale and of course I picked one up. I was even told she would sign a book, so I was like, “word?” and made sure I got one that I would really like her to sign for me. I am on this kick of having authors sign books for me. I just love having books of people I know or at least had a small conversation with, on my bookshelf. It makes me feel like a “real writer” or maybe that just means I am a real book groupie (do authors even have groupies?).

Anyhow, Oates is a freakin’ legend and I was thrilled to get the chance to hear her speak and sign my book.

Four o’clock rolls around and I take my seat. During her whole time speaking, people kept getting up and moving about. It was really annoying and I wanted to be that person who goes around and shhhhing people; however, I have a big problem with that. So I just complain about it here to you.

Oates tells us how in this book called, “Dear Husband” she has two stories that are based on actual things she read in the newspaper. Inspiration comes from every place and I am glad that someone as seasoned in the profession as she is can still look at the outside world, take it all in, and then give it to us with her spin on it.

She reads us the essay called “Dear Husband” and in typical Oates fashion it is unbelievably awesome and touching. Oates then takes questions from the audience and here is when things get funny.

One lady who showed up late to the reading asks Oates if the story she read was based on the newspaper article. Oates kindly states that the person must have missed her introduction of the piece and the person retorts in typical Philly fashion, “NO I WASN’T HERE.” Nothing like screaming at a writing god and showing your ignorance to said writing god. But, that wasn’t the worst offender.

The last question comes from someone who asks, “Why didn’t you write the story from the Mother-In-Law’s point of view?” Oates repeats the persons question and then delivers this classic line, “I thought I would let you write that story” and then I swear she just magically disappears from the stage. It was like she was a ninja or something (and I am really trying to sell others on this idea that she is in fact a ninja).

When Oates, ninja style, shows up seconds later at the book-signing table, I tell her and I quote, “Nice verbal bitch slap to that last question”. She then says to me, “Yeah, people do ask the oddest questions.”

This woman is classy all the way.

Oh and she’s a ninja.

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