The Case of the Missing Author

Tj O’Connor and I had such a good time at Monster Mania last week (see below), that we decided to induce heart attacks and go do the Collingswood Book Festival in Collingswood, NJ, the next week. Since my brother (seen here with his lap dog, Cody):

lived just down the road a piece, I had a place to crash before and after. Perfect! So, Friday night, I wended my way across the Mad Max landscape of 95 North through Baltimore to do this thing. Tj and I would meet up the following Saturday morning, 11 Oct, in Collingswood.

All the time I’ve been in and out of NJ, I never visited Collingswood because they have passport control and like to keep the riffraff out. It is a lovely town, with a toney main street called Hadden Avenue running ‘cross it, where all of us book peoples were to assemble our tables and banners and offer our bookish wares to an ambulatory bookish public. That is, unless it rained; then we were to assemble inside the Collingswood High School.

Well, it rained. And it was anarchy.

All rules of civilization were jettisoned as hundreds of booksellers went Lord of the Flies and wrestled for table and parking space. Without too much bloodshed, I managed to snag a place inside the adjoining middle school gym:

next to a cartoonist:

which, given the Simpson-ish start to the day, seemed appropriate.

Some of the neighbors:

Just a few days ago, the guy with the great hair was Dormammu at the NYC ComicCon.

Speaking of great hair:

Music was provided by Leon Russell:

Cyd Webster:

was set up across from me selling her post-apocalyptic survival novel HB…’cause, you know, it wasn’t like I was selling a post-apocalyptic novel or something.

Indeed, it wasn’t like there was, oh, say, about 60-90 authors at 60-90 tables lined edge to edge in a cramped space, all trying to sell their books to the few customers who managed to wander in from the main building where all the big booksellers had set up shop. Disaster, right?


It was packed, lots of people coming in and out, and I worked the room for about eight straight hours, buttonholing anybody who even glanced in my direction, shoving my card in their pockets and making a general nuisance of myself. These ladies:

were speculating whether I was a lawyer, a teacher, or a preacher. Well, I teach the gospel of What’s Happening Now, and if you don’t like it, I’ll sue you.

Sell any books? Eh, a few, but, so what? I had a great time. In fact, I’m thinking of going next year…as long as it doesn’t rain.

Oh, Tj? Didn’t see him. Not once. He was somewhere over in the main building…or, at least, that’s what he said in his texts. I got lots of texts from him. Seemed to be running commentary on what was going on over there in a building I did not visit, so, you know, coulda said just about anything, right? Oh, sure, I saw his daughter; she brought me a couple of requested hot dogs because sitting behind a table talking about books all day is grueling work that leaves you famished (how I suffer for my art). But, no Tj. Not once. In fact, when it was over, I called him to see what he was doing and…uh…he’d already left the area.

Uh huh.

Not that I’m implying anything…nope, not me. But, ya know, I think someone ought to go see how Tj is doing. You know, actually SEE him. Alive. Not tied up in a car trunk and being forced to sign checks or something.

Someone should.

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