Monday, September 27, 2010

Gianna's Thoughts on the Passing of a Bookselling Legend

Two weeks ago longtime bookseller David Thompson of Murder By the Book passed away unexpectedly. Yesterday a celebration of his life was held at the Briar Club in Houston and hundreds of people--including authors such as Lee Child and Robert Crais--gathered to pay respects, drink margaritas, and swap David stories. Gianna was unable to attend, so she composed this piece to be read at the gathering if there was the opportunity. Because wake? shindig?...was pretty informal and no one spoke, such an opportunity did not arise. Therefore, we are sharing her tribute to our friend David in this space. Here is what she wrote:

It’s been an incredibly difficult couple of weeks; just when I think the shock will wear off it just doesn’t. In the first few days after David’s death I found myself continually looking at his and the Murder by the Book Facebook pages – you’ve all seen the dozens and dozens of posts – everyone from famous bestselling authors to book lovers who never met David in person, it is truly remarkable. There was another post on Sept. 15th that I have thought about every single day – often more than once a day – it is a post that took strength, grace, kindness and enormous generosity. It simply read, “Thank you all,” and it was posted by McKenna. Just to know she felt us with her helped a little bit.

I am proud to work in books – proud of the way the staff at Blue Willow, Book People, and Sally at Brazos across the street (who knew David so long), and even stores across the country reached out. The staff at Murder by the Book has been, I have no words, very strong I guess, a real tribute to David. Anne, we depended on you for news, and everything else. I don’t know how you did it. This news truly rocked Random House, I got calls from editors and publicists – some crying on the phone. Ours is a business, and often the participants in the business of publishing books are required to be tough, consummate professionals, but my god they loved David. We really are a family – the kind of family that can’t borrow cash from each other because you know – we all work and books and make crappy money!

Now I want to talk about David possibly being a cross dresser. When someone dies, events, conversations, break down into such small moments for me – and I have been really focused on one in particular. One day, not too terribly long ago, David said, pretty casually, more casually than one would expect from anyone else but he said, “I sometimes accidently wear McKenna’s clothes to work.” I should point out that we weren’t in a confessional or even alone. McKenna, Brenda (David’s mother in law) and I were all in the back talking about I don’t know what but I am sure the topic wasn’t wearing each others clothes. Anyway, I said “What do you mean?” and David went on to say that McKenna buys these oversized Oxford shirts she likes to lounge around in and sometimes when he is in a hurry he just grabs one and goes to work, and later at some point McKenna will see him and say in a sort of sad but not totally surprised voice, “Oh David… that’s my shirt.” So I asked David if he has done it more than once and he was pretty proud to say yes, definitely more than once he “accidently” wore his wife’s clothes. I pointed out that once was an accident, twice was unfortunate and you know more than that is just cross dressing. Brenda had her back to David and I remember so so clearly looking at her and she was organizing books sort of shaking her head and had the sweetest smile on her face, and just by looking at her you knew she adored this guy. That’s one of my favorite moments, McKenna and I laughing – tears in my eyes, Brenda with that sweet smile and David trying to convince us it wasn’t weird.

One last thing. I last saw David on Sept 9th at the store, I just stopped in to chat and joke around for a bit and David talked about how excited he was to meet Dean Koontz in October. I was about to leave and then in the frantic passionate voice we all know from David he said, “wait wait come here!” We went to a shelf he picked up a book handed it to me and insisted I would love it. And that was that. . The last time I saw David he put a book in my hand – pretty perfect.

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