Last weekend, I was out in New Jersey visiting my in-laws with the family. It was the end of Passover, and including my brother-in-law's family and some friends, there were fifteen people (including seven children) hanging around the house.
My youngest daughter, Ita, had an English assignment and decided that for her report she was going to read one of the books I represent--Geoff Rodkey's wonderful and clever Deadweather and Sunrise. As something of a treat, and in order for her to get into the rhythm of the story (and because, having read it, oh, ten times already, I was pretty fluent), I agreed to read the beginning to Ita, with the understanding that she'd take over after a reasonable number of pages.
Turns out that "reasonable" meant a hundred and twenty. And it was a pleasure. Beside the actual words of the story, which are funny and at times quite beautiful and poignant (when people aren't hitting each other with rocks), a fascinating thing happened: I acquired an audience. Slowly, over the course of the hour and a half or so that I read, people found their way onto the porch.
They had all read the book already--Deadweather and Sunrise was my go-to book last summer, and my son and wife had read it when it was on submission. But there was something about the whole sociability of sitting together and hearing a story that was magnetic. By the time I got to "and I realized REDACTED (read it yourself!) was trying to kill me" and closed the book, there were eight or nine people in the room.
We spend an enormous amount of time hanging out in front of screens. We write posts and emails and text messages. Particularly when kids aren't around we rarely sit together and read to each other. Heck, the Author Reading as social event at the local bookstore has almost disappeared as publishers have realized that blog tours are generally more efficient and cost effective than sending writers on the road (except--as is the case right now with Geoff Rodkey himself, coincidentally--when they send a group of authors on tour together to visit schools and bookstores en mass).
So it was particularly fun--in a retro, quaint way--to read to Ita and the greater Jersey Shore. It helped that it was a lively book, and on a holiday where we don't use electronics so the audience was somewhat captive. And everyone walked around the house smiling for a few hours at the sheer pleasantness of the experience. Ita has not, in fact, read on this week--the return to school has taken over her free time. But it's almost the weekend, and the days are long, and I think the immediate family is going to NEED to hear how Egg escapes from REDACTED.