All alone in the crowd at a Charlotte bookstore

“I was supposed to appear at a bookstore in Charlotte, North Carolina, which is a conservative Bible-belt town. My publisher [of “A Fortunate Age”] said, ‘There’s no point in going [from New York City] to Charlotte, it’s going to be a complete waste of time, nobody buys literary fiction in Charlotte, the only thing that sells is Christian fiction.’ But we have a good friend whose mom said, ‘You should definitely do it, it’s such a great bookstore, all these people are going to come.’

“So we put our kids in the car, raced to get there, and I was frazzled, and basically no one came. They said that it would be a reading, but it wasn’t. They just wanted me to sign books. But nobody’s heard of me! Book signings are for famous people….

“The thing that made it particularly brutal was that my friend’s mom came with two very sweet Southern ladies from her book club, and they just sat at the table where I was supposed to be signing books. The bookstore was crowded. And people kept looking at me, trying to figure out what was going on. They looked like they wanted to approach me. But there were these chattering ladies sitting there. And passers-by probably thought I was just some person who was camped out with my friends.”

— From an interview with novelist and memoirist Joanna Smith Rakoff at (Feb. 16, 2012)