I arrived ten minutes late to the Occupy Broadway Books: Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups event. Even though I knew the deal, I was still surprised—and impressed—to see about 100 adults of all ages dressed in pajamas, some holding stuffed animals and blankies as they sat cross-legged on the floor in front of the register waiting for night-night stories from Chuck Palahniuk, Chelsea Cain and Lidia Yuknavitch. Apparently they’d been there for a while, because when I finally made my way to the appetizer table, the only thing left was the wine.
To start things off, Broadway Books’ co-owner Sally McPherson stood on a stool behind the counter and introduced Palahniuk, the first of the three writing group members to read. He emerged from behind the counter to wild applause and settled on top of it before reading a new short story that only his writing group had heard.
It was about this time that the two-man KGW News crew, tucked in the corner, went live. The reporter started talking to the camera WHILE Chuck was reading, breaking the spell we’d been under. Luckily it only took a few minutes and they slipped out the door after also interviewing Chelsea Cain. Check out the 3-minute clip. (Though the event was in honor of Lidia Yuknavitch’s new book, Dora, Rod Hill did not speak with her.)
When they left, Palahniuk said, “It’s a good thing I wasn’t reading the dirty story while they were here.” Someone in the audience responded, “Wait, so the story you’re reading isn’t dirty? Aw, come on!” This sentiment was echoed by others in the audience, and Palahniuk was more than happy to oblige. He flipped a few pages to another story. It was definitely dirty.
Before Cain read, it was agreed that anyone who wanted one of the four signed, pink T-shirts the authors had brought could race around the block to compete for them. It was an intense competition, and the man who came in fourth place lost his footing and fell on the pavement. He said later that he hadn’t run so fast in his entire life, but he “just really wanted a shirt.” Yuknavitch gave him his shirt.
Next up was Chelsea Cain, author of the Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell thriller series. She read from her latest book, Kill You Twice. I confess that I was revolted and completely enthralled at the same time. The way Cain read made it impossible not to laugh, despite the grisly subject matter.
Introducing Yuknavitch (The Chronology of Water and Dora: A Headcase), Cain expressed her extreme pride in Dora‘s publication. She told the audience that the whole reason for the event was that she and Palahniuk wanted to celebrate Yuknavitch’s new book in some meaningful way. Instead of just a release party, they decided to throw her a book event. How it ended up being bedtime-themed, she didn’t know. “That’s just what happens when you plan things with Chuck Palahniuk,” she said.
Yuknavitch read a short story inspired by her lifelong affinity for monsters and a dream she’d had about Godzilla.
It was around 9 pm when the Q&A started. I did mention that there was free wine, right? And it continued to flow as the authors answered questions about their writing, the book industry and specifically to Yuknavitch, how her 11-year-old son was handling the mature, painful content of her memoir, The Chronology of Water.
This sold-out event was the first of its kind and, as a dedicated reader, I appreciate that these literary stand-outs decided to celebrate each other at Broadway Books, only minutes from my house. Thank you Lidia, Chelsea and Chuck. And thank you Roberta and Sally for your great little store with great big service.
Broadway Books is constantly hosting events, including Oregon’s Poet Laureate, Paulann Petersen on September 18.
Yuknavitch will next appear at Elliott Bay Book Company September 19, sans pjs.—Amber James