Now, I did skive off for two other portions that day. Like the frequent flyer saying goes, I like to vote with my feet. Instead of
|Joan outside of Octavia|
After a last poke through the galley room (this is heaven: it's a room filled with tables piled high with books and we could just walk through and help ourselves to whatever books looked good. I kid you not) and spending time in line to pack up and freight out said free books from the galley room, it was time for the small press author reception. Yay!
What was quite possibly the best "official" part of the trip for me, though, was the author dinner for Simon & Schuster. Simon had never invited me for anything before, but as I said earlier, I read and reviewed more books in 2011 than ever before, and one of them just happened to be for one of the two authors S&S invited to Winter Institute: Carol Anshaw's Carry the One. Color me tickled (and starstruck 'cause I got to sit next to Carol at dinner)! Not only was this one of the best parts of Winter Institute, it was one of the best author dinners I've ever had the pleasure to attend. It was held at The Red Fish Grill, which was excellent (duh--it's a Brennan family restaurant). We had a private room with two tables of 8 people, and a good mix of publishers, old guard booksellers, and newer ones like me. The food was *amazing* because Wendy had planned the menu with perfect attention to local flavors and specialties, and it turns out that our waiter, Ike, was a character who plays himself on the tv show Treme.
|Our prix-fixe dinner menu|
I think many of us were reluctant to call it a night after dinner was over, so a few of us gathered for one last drink and a salute to the Big Easy. (Or rather, it was one last drink for me but the other stayed out 'cause they were wearing their dancing shoes). I, however, had a breakfast date with the lovely and venerable Emoke B'racz from Malaprop's in Asheville the next morning, so I hied myself back to the hotel around 2:00 am to get some rest.
The day dawned hot & hazy--just the way I like it, actually, as memories of that morning will keep the cold New England winter at bay--as Emoke and I made our way down to Cafe Du Monde one last time. We talked story, as the Hawaiians say, for a good long time over beignets and cafe au lait, at one of the last tables available. By the time we rose to leave, there was a line snaking down the block. We rejoiced in our good fortune, but perhaps that was just tempting fate, because on our walk back to the hotel, I stepped off a curb only to simultaneously catch my toe on a raised flagstone and see a car approaching out of the corner of my eye. In an effort to keep from being run over (in my head I kept saying to myself, I cannot die in New Orleans, I cannot freakin' die here in New Orleans!), I must have been quite the comical sight to see as I flew horizontally across the street, losing both of my shoes, my sunglasses, my scarf and my handbag, only to crash mightily to the earth a few inches shy of the opposite curb. I attracted quite a bit of attention, and luckily Emoke was there to gather my accoutrements while a kindly restaurateur helped me to my feet and insisted that I sit at one of his tables to shake off the near-accident. The car, happily, braked at quite a distance from me and nothing much was hurt beyond my ego, though later I did develop some pretty nasty bruises on each knee and one forearm. Unfortunately my new cashmere sweater was ruined from skidding and sliding into
That's about it in a nutshell. Travel home was complicated but not interesting enough to write about, and I had to hit the ground running the next day for textbook rush at work. I miss New Orleans and the opportunities that Winter Institute provides for meeting other book people and networking in a way that doesn't feel like networking. I hate networking, but I love Winter Institute. And that's all I have to say about that. Thanks for reading along with my bookish adventures, and here are some parting photographs:
|Bourbon Street on a Tuesday night|
|A typical wrought iron balcony in the Quarter|