Quick update on the months of August, September and October:
August never happened. I don’t remember August at all, so…it just didn’t exist this year. June, July, September, October. Yep. That was how my calendar looked.
Mid-September was our annual family trip to Ft. Walton Beach Florida where we rested up in the calm that is before the inevitable storm of fall programming (for me) and football season photo assignments (for Eric). No obligations to anything except eating, swimming, and hanging with family.
Late September was spent with the entertaining and controversial YA author Chris Crutcher, who was in town for our Gadsden Reads Banned Books Week. Several public speaking engagements, a visit to the Etowah County Detention Center to speak with our female Substance Abuse Program inmates and two school visits (Gadsden City High and my alma mater, Southside High…Go Panthers!) then Chris was back on a plane to Washington State. An incredible writer and a wonderful person with which to converse. He GETS people. He GETS behavior. He GETS teenagers. And the students love him. They flock to him to ask him questions, or to tell him how his stories aren’t just stories, he's writing about their lives. It is pretty powerful to be in a room where Chris Crutcher is talking to a hundred-plus students, students who keep asking him great question after great question, students who stay after his talk to ask him more personal questions before wandering away to their next class. We want to bring him back. We have to bring him back.
Tex was in attendance of Chris’ library talk. He came into my office a couple of hours before the event and wanted to know who Chris was, what kind of books did he write, where was he from, and was there going to be free food. When I mentioned that Chris wrote young adult books about being a teenager and other stuff, Tex just sort of nodded without too much interest.
Me: “He sometimes uses curse words and writes about sports and about teens who get in trouble. Nothing that you’d be interested in.”Tex (interest suddenly piqued): “Really? He writes cuss words in his books?”Me: “Yup. Not all of them, but some of them. Says that he sometimes finds out the most popular profanity at events just like the one we’re having tonight. So, maybe you shouldn’t come…Tex: “Oh, I’m coming alright. Is he selling books?”Me: “The library is. We have The Sledding Hill for $10.”Tex: “I sure wish I had $10 to buy that book with.”Me: “Well, I’ll buy you a copy and you can have him sign it, if you even come tonight. But I’m still not sure you should…
And so that is how I not only got a thirteen-year-old boy to come to an author reading at the GPL, but I also got a copy of The Sledding Hill into his hands. Now, I don’t know if Tex will ever notice that there is no profanity in that book, but I do hope he notices characters in the story who share some similar hardships as those he faces. They may be subtle similarities, but they are similarities nonetheless. And I hope that he one day understands that there are other folks who have walked the same path that he walks, and that he’s not alone. And all it took was the promise of a free book, free food and maybe some new profanity.