Friday, September 28, 2012

The Book Nerd's Version of a Roaring Good Time

Liz here.  Last weekend I worked the Random House booth at the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association annual trade show, held in Denver.  On the one hand, aspects of trade shows make me a little crazy.  There's the standing around, the being polite (no, really, I have to be nicer than my usual self), the speaking in public, the constant and unending chatter.  On the other, these are fellow book nerds I'm talking to, from booksellers to other sales reps to authors.  It's a whole conference of socially awkward individuals, but without the need to dress like storm troopers and Spider-Man that you get with the truly freakish comic book conventions.  I can crack a joke about an author fabricating the premise behind his bestselling book and this group of nerds chuckle knowingly without the need for further elaboration.  Good times.

Loot from MPIBA
Here's the list of my highlights from the MPIBA trade show, listed in countdown form:

5. The hotel where the convention was held is across the street from a Planned Parenthood clinic, and you're absolutely correct if you wondered if I asked for a room that faced the clinic.  Protesters are fascinating creatures, even when they are torturing women who are already having bad days.

4. Books!  I came home with a stack of books from my pals at other publishing houses.

3. More books!  If I have to talk to people all day, I want to talk about my favorite reads for the fall, and I want to offer a sneak peek at the absolutely amazing looking graphic novel-in-a-box, Building Stories by Chris Ware.

(Part of) the Random House booth
2. I met two incredible authors--Kent Haruf, who wrote Plainsong and the upcoming Benediction, and Anthony Marra, who wrote the upcoming A Constellation of Vital Phenomena.  Kent and his wife Cathy and possibly the two kindest people I've ever met, and I love his books.  They are full of human characters (no saints here, but no demons either) for whom he shows incredible empathy.  Tony Marra is the kind of guy I want in my circle of friends.  He's super smart and talented, and he gets the joke, and he is a Russophile (you know I love Russia).  Both of these writers understand the worth of independent bookstores, too, be they in rural Colorado or urban Oakland.
Kent Haruf

1. How do book nerds unwind at the end of the day?  Literary trivia!  The trade show hosted a trivia contest and divided participating booksellers and reps up by state.  I played with the Texas team that included booksellers from Katy Budget Books, Valerie Koehler of Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, and my Random House boss Valerie Walley.  Um...we weren't going to lose, 'kay?  I am a little crazy about trivia and I don't like to lose.  So while I appreciate the teams from the other states who played, I wasn't planning on losing.  I was planning on gloating. To the victors go the spoils.  What did we win?  iPhone covers that say "Read or Die" and a ribbon on our conference badges that says "Literary Trivia Champions."  I was hoping for cash.  Oh, and my teammates and I may have suggested that next year the conference should just go ahead and print "Two Time Literary Trivia Champs" ribbons next year, as we plan to repeat.  Hear that Colorado?  You will be losing next year too!
Anthony Marra

I bugged my pal Michele, who put together the trivia competition, for the questions.  There were five rounds, each with a sheet of questions based on book knowledge.  I'll post each separately.  Enjoy.

Round 1


Give the name of the author who created each of the following characters:

1. Sam Spade
2. Easy Rawlins
3. Goldy Schulz
4. Bernie Rhodenbarr
5. Commissario Guido Brunetti
6. Philip Marlowe
7. Kurt Wallander
8. Adam Dalgliesh
9. Tommy Lynley
10. Mr. Moto

Answers (the ones in black we answered correctly, the ones in red we missed): Dashiell Hammett, Walter Moseley, Diane Mott Davidson, Lawrence Block, Donna Leon, Raymond Chandler, Henning Mankell, P.D. James, Elizabeth George, John P. Marquand.

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