Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Book Mystery

Another thing I thought of to tell you about the Texas Book Festival that took place last weekend, in relation to my events at the Austin Museum of Art, concerns how busy the two days were. When each panel started there was time to lean against a wall and listen. But in-between, I and the volunteers were really busy. There were the usual things to do, like picking up trash, straightening chairs, opening blinds, making sure visitors made their way to the signing table in the foyer, etc. But there was also checking on the authors who were arriving for the next panel. Sometimes they were in the room watching the previous panel. Most often they had arrived during the panel and a volunteer showed them to the hospitality room. Sometimes they found their own way there – they had spoken at the museum before or gotten directions from a museum employee.

So in-between panels, I would go downstairs, check to see that all the next-panel authors had arrived, talk with them about t-shirts and set-up, then head back upstairs. Sometimes the hospitality room had only one or two authors in it; sometimes it was SRO with extra family and friends of the authors. At the end of each day, I cleaned up the room, getting rid of left-over food and trash and straightening chairs.

On Sunday, everything had to be cleaned up, including water bottles and trash. What I discovered on Sunday was that a book had been left … for me. It had a piece of paper on it that said, “For Helen.” It wasn’t a book that was part of any of the panels either Saturday or Sunday. It wasn’t by an author on any panel. It wasn’t autographed.

Who left it? When did they leave it? The back cover has a picture of the author, but I don’t remember seeing him. (Of course, considering how many people I saw, I probably wouldn’t have unless he came up and introduced himself.) So, somehow this author, Jim Strong, found his way to the hospitality room and quietly left a book for me. The book is called “Craving for Travel.” It has beautiful pictures and a write-up on each luxury travel destination.

A definite mystery to me. I can easily see how he could have been down there without me ever knowing – it was rather busy at times. I guess the mystery is that he not only left a book, he specifically left a note saying it was for me. I wish I’d known in time to thank him.

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