It's been five long years since I toured with a new book, but starting July 4th I set out once more on what Sharyn McCrumb has called the literary migrant worker circuit. After launching Nor the Battle to the Strong on Independence Day at Malaprop's in Asheville, I visited Black Bear Books in Boone, Fireside Books in Forest City, Blue Moon in Spruce Pine, Phillips & Lloyd in Hayesville, The Literary Bookpost in Salisbury, Osondu Books in Waynesville and City Lights in Sylva--independents all, I'm pleased to say.
Those five years have made a difference. I'm older and a little slower and get tired sooner. But on the other hand, I feel more comfortable than ever before, and I think that's mostly because of the warm welcome I've gotten from the good folks who run the stores I've visited and from the readers who've come to meet me and talk about the new book.
Why? I'm not sure. But I'm willing to venture a guess. People who love books these days are hungry for a good, nourishing literary meal, and too often publishers are dishing out a scanty gruel instead. More books are being printed today than ever before, but the books themselves all too often fail to satisfy the serious reader's desire to consume fare of substance.
I don't know if my book measures up to that standard. That's not a judgment I'm entitled to make. But I do know that my intent was to write a book that serious readers can relish. And what's cheered me so, these last few days, is the readers and booksellers I've met seemed to recognize that intent and appreciate it for its own sake. They seemed grateful to get to know a writer and a book that might possibly fill their hunger for a good read as well as help fatten the author's royalty account or fill the bookstore's coffers.
Of course the readers had to take the book home and go through it and decide whether or not it met that expectation. Did it fill them up or leave them hungry? I'm curious. I'd like to know. Writing this blog, I sometimes feel I'm writing to myself, or to the empty air. I long for comments but up to now they've been mighty scarce. So this time I'm asking outright. If you've read Nor the Battle to the Strong, will you post a comment on this blog and let me know whether it fed you well or left you hungry? I look forward to hearing from you, even if you still want dessert--or maybe even another entree.