Why book signings are not all they’ve cracked up to be

God love David Sedaris. The man is on a 36 day tour of 37 cities (or maybe it’s the other way around), and after speaking for more than 90 minutes, he is likely STILL sitting in the lobby of Walton Arts Center, signing books, chatting with people, brightening their rainy evening.

Which is why it pains me to say: I think I dislike book signings.

I’ve attended two signings in the last few weeks. The first was fine. James Patterson was gracious, smiled, nodded, signed my book, and the line kept moving. Now I have a signed James Patterson book, which I suppose is cool. I forgot about it within a few hours. No big deal.

However, a signing with David Sedaris is another matter entirely. He talks to everyone. In fact, this evening, our line didn’t move for about 20 minutes because he was talking to the first people in line. For the entire 20 minutes. As 20 minutes stretched to 30, I could feel my stomach dropping. I snuck a peek at the Walton Arts Center twitter feed…people were gleefully tweeting about the witty and involved conversations they’d had with Mr. Sedaris. And I knew, I just knew, that I was sunk.

I’m not one of those people who can have a bright and interesting conversation with total strangers. I tend to say weird things, making leaps between thoughts that make no sense whatsoever if you’re not in my head. And situations like tonight just depress me; I mean, if he can talk to one couple for 20 minutes, they must be really interesting. I’m not. I can’t think of a single interesting thing to say, and if I think the interesting thought ahead of time, it will not be remotely funny or interesting when I actually say it. Everyone knows that planned humor falls flat unless you’re a comedian.

Add to this the fact that I was standing in line with nearly a dozen books, only one of which was mine, and you have a recipe for awkwardness. Bless David’s heart, he gamely signed my books, tried to engage me in conversations about the Ozarks, and even asked if I had a dog or a cat so he could draw me a picture. I could practically hear him mentally running through his “questions to ask when the person who’s book I’m signing isn’t interesting” list. Someone, get this girl an ounce of wit and charm, would you?

So, combine the relatively uninspiring James Patterson signing (the best part of which was that I felt no obligation other than to say thank you, clutch my book to my chest, and head for the door), with the forced cheeriness of this one, and you understand why I’m not a fan of signings. I think, in the future, I’ll leave them to those who enjoy them.

But hey, I’ve got a signed David Sedaris book. Lest you think I’m a total grump, that actually is pretty cool. And I really, really appreciate that he is probably STILL signing books right now. That’s…in a word…generous.

PS: I wish I’d asked him to sign my IPhone, which is the only place I’ve actually “read” one of his (audio)books. I would have found that funny, even if no one else did.

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