Monday, June 9, 2008

A Day in Chicago at Printer's Row

By Julia Buckley
We braved the rain and the El today to go to downtown Chicago and the Printer's Row Book Fair; I had a signing spot in the MWA booth for two lovely hours, before the rains came. My sherpa was my husband, a veteran of public transportation since his high school days. I, however, never quite took to the El; I find it about as comforting as riding on a rocket must be. There were times--far too many to count--when I complained to my co-passengers (my husband and two sons) that the train was rocking too much, hinting at derailment.

My husband scoffed at me. "Do you want me to notify the conductor that the El is jostling my wife?"

"Yes," I said.

Somehow we made it to Chicago, despite the fright of an El ride.
This futuristic subterranean hallway smelled vaguely of the elephant house at the zoo, but the boys found it exciting. I was just glad to be using my own feet as a form of locomotion.

We soon found, upon ascending into sunlight once again, that we had taken a train which left us rather far from our destination (Polk and Dearborn). So we walked and walked. I told my husband that he was not a very reliable Sherpa, to which he responded in most husband-like style that he simply would not be my guide next time, if that was how I felt.

A man visiting from Kentucky gave us instructions about how to find Polk Street. This is humiliating because A)We live fifteen minutes from the city and B)My husband has worked downtown all his life ("Just not that PART of downtown," he insisted).

It was so humid that even the pigeons were resting.
At long last we found our wonderful MWA booth; my table mate was Jess Lourey, and presiding over the whole event was MWA Midwest President Julie Hyzy, who is doing a terrific job as our leader, due to her unending effervescence. If you've met Julie, you know what I mean.
Jess and I hadn't met since Bouchercon 2006, but she was just as lovely and charming as ever--and she sold out every single copy the bookseller had of her Murder by Month mysteries. She is, apparently, a rising star in the mystery world.
Her head hasn't gotten too big with success, however; she was still willing to pass out flyers for the MWA tent before she made her nine hour drive back to Minnesota. After the two-hour stint that Jess and I shared in a humid glare, but with an occasional cooling breeze, the rain came sweeping in on poor Sam Reeves and Michael Black, the MWA stalwarts who manned the table next. I can only hope that they and their books weren't soaked by the torrents we watched out of our El car on the jostling journey home.

And by the way, it was a successful day for me, as well: I sold all but one of the copies of THE DARK BACKWARD; a most rewarding feeling. I even decided to give my Sherpa another chance. After all, he got me there and back in one piece.
Mystery Writer Jess Lourey approaches passersby with flyers for the MWA.


Jess Lourey said...

Julie is amazing, isn't she? And people couldn't buy The Dark Backward fast enough. You're an amazing writer and a GREAT table mate! And I'm glad you're giving Jeff another chance.

Julia Buckley said...

Haha. Glad you survived that nine hour journey.

Let us know how you're progressing with SEPTEMBER MOURN!!

Dina said...

I'm from Chgo and when I was young I used to walk up the streats for large artfair, I can't remember what it was called but wonder if its the same thing. I used to love just seeing all the beautiful artwork. The trains there are intersting to ride, aren't they. you do get used to them eventually. :)

Sandra Parshall said...

Looks like you had fun, despite the weather. I love the picture of the pigeons cooling off on the marble!

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Julia, I read your post aloud to my husband, whose Sherpa duties will end tomorrow when we drive back to New York from Bowling Green, OH, not without some grumbling and what we're calling "marital interludes." We might have been in Chicago for Printer's Row if I'd known in time that MWA had a booth. We had torrential rain in Ohio too. Midwest weather is quite an experience!

Julia Buckley said...

Dina--you're right. I think people adapt to public transportation very quickly.

But I don't think what you remember is Printer's Row, which is strictly books. I know there are lots of Chicago art fairs, too.

Sandy, those pigeons are so brave you can walk right up to them. It's odd, but makes for good photos. :)

Liz, this is quite a year for Midwest weather--but I think GLobal warming is complicating our already moody spring/summer trends. And your sherpa had a much longer journey to navigate!

Lonnie Cruse said...

Wish Chicago wasn't so far from Metropolis. I'd have loved to join you. This weekend is the Superman Celebration here and I'll be signing (thankfully) indoors this year.

Julia Buckley said...

Have a great time, Lonnie! That sounds like the perfect venue for your Metropolis mysteries. I'll bet you sell loads every year.

Dina said...

You're right Julia, what I remember was mostly art, so can't be the same thing.