Book-related events are proceeding full speed ahead. At 7 pm on Tuesday (Sept 14), I'm going to present it in St. Petersburg at a new branch of a prominent citywide bookstore chain, Bookvoed (Буквоед) -- the name roughly translates as "Eater of books" or "Eater of letters (of alphabet)" and references a cultural image of a voracious reader as somebody who "consumes books." The new store is located in the middle of Nevsky prospekt (Невский 46), and is rumored to have three floors full of books, glass walls and elevators, a standard cafe, and a bunch of brand new managers who don't know the inventory yet. The store opened last Wednsday, and my aunt was one of their first customers. She reports that the store was empty, "but it's not surprising because they'll need at least 5,000 people to fill that place up! It's a stadium, not a bookstore! What were they thinking??" We're not going to try to fill it up for my presentation, but we're inviting all friends and family members to participate.
The presentation at the Moscow book show was very low-key on my part. I didn't really have to do anything except hang out and meet people. We had a trivia contest going at our stand: passers-by had to answer questions slightly related to my book. Who was President of the USA in 1992? How long does it take to fly from San Francisco to St. Petersburg? What ocean does the aircraft cross on the way? Winners got the book as a gift. Everyone who stopped by got postcards with the book art and info, links to my brand new Russian website (www.grenetz.ru). I smiled and chatted with a couple of friends who stopped by.
The event in St. Petersburg is going to be entirely different. I'm preparing a talk -- trying to figure out what I can tell my friends and family about myself that'll be new and interesting to them. It will probably have something to do with my life in San Francisco, with San Francisco Writers Workshop and the amazingly supportive San Francisco writing community; with the work I've done over the last few years as a reader and an editor at literary magazines in the US; the ways of dealing with rejection -- and with acceptance; with all the choices I keep making that allow me to go on writing -- and writing, somehow, in two languages. The presentation will be structured as a conversation between me and my friend and editor Galina, and hopefully she'll help me to streamline my thoughts and stop me from rambling. I'm planning to write as much of it down as I can, and, if I need to, read from my notes. I am a very nervous public speaker, and particularly so in Russian. And with a microphone! Yikes. I'll probably read the Russian version of "My Mother at the Shooting Range," too. I'm scared, but I'm also looking forward to it. I've invited a lot of friends and family members, and it'll be fun to be able to share with them some part of my world and my work. It's a rare opportunity, indeed. Do wish me luck!