Hometown Girl at the Red Balloon

Attentive listeners at the Red Balloon, Friday, November 18, 2011

Visiting my hometown always gives me a kaleidoscopic feeling as new experiences are superimposed over old ones, and last Friday night I added another by returning to the Red Balloon Bookshop, in St. Paul, MN, a favorite spot place I’ve stopped into regularly since it opened in 1984.  New co-owner Holly Weinkauf welcomed me with charismatic warmth and we were joined by my extended family, friends from my old neighborhood, girlhood buddies from the Visitation and SPA/SS, college friends, a book group I know through Skyping, and their children.

An unduly large percentage of attendees had already read Birthmarked, so I didn’t worry about spoilers and jumped right into reading from the first chapter of Prized.  Reading aloud is a sort of split-personality experience, because my main mind is deep into the story, far away from the present reality, while a smaller, aware side of me knows I’m in a room full of people, and I need to keep my place, speak clearly, and glance up a bit when I can.  I think I like best the brief moment at the end, when I reach the last words and stop, and a moment hovers there, like everyone’s still waiting for a little more.

Then we get on to the cake, and all is well.  Books are about bringing people together, and I’m happy to be part of such a rich community.  Many thanks to Holly and the team at the Red Balloon.  I had a lovely time in your bookshop and I’m so grateful you had me in for a reading of Prized.

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