Hometown Girl at the Red Balloon
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.