Book Tour Confidential: Tin House Books

The Open Bar

Jim Krusoe: My most memorable experience was at swanky Barnes and Noble in Hollywood. I was reading my first novel, Iceland, and the whole time I was up there I kept watching, out of the corner of my eye, two old stout ladies carrying heavy shopping bags. They would walk to right next to where I stood reading, argue with the host, return to their seats, whisper, then the repeat the process. At last when I finished, they introduced themselves. They told me they were Icelandic, and their bags contained five pounds of cod. Had I defamed Iceland they were going to hurl all of it at me, but my book was so confusing, they said, that in the end they couldn’t decide whether I had or not.

Alexis Smith: My most memorable moment on book tour happened at Bloomsbury Books (in Ashland, OR) where I met the representative of a men’s book group, Cliff  (from rural Oregon), who had chosen my book to read during their year of reading only women authors. Cliff had me sign the book to all the other men in the group. I wrote, “Thank you for reading a book with a dress on the cover.” He later sent me an email telling me that one member of the group, a 60-year-old off-the-grid farmer, had read Glaciers twice because he found it “so comforting.” That experience of connection with readers was worth more than all the royalties checks in the world.

Scott Sparling: Kalamazoo, the Michigan News Agency, before the reading begins. The woman I’m talking to is smart, speaks quietly, says her name is Jaimy, and she’s holding my book. About a minute in, I realize who I’m talking to. Partial brain freeze begins as a voice I haven’t heard in 15 years calls out my name. More like yells. My uncle, elderly, needs ear implants, speaks like thunder. Holds my book a few inches from my face and says: I DID NOT CARE FOR THIS BOOK! As brain freeze continues I slowly back away, leaving my 92-year-old uncle and the National Book Award winner to have a half-shouted, half-spoken conversation about the merits of Wire to Wire. And that, friends, is why I say Long Live the Michigan News Agency and bookstores everywhere, ‘cause you can’t meet Jaimy Gordon and my uncle Howard on

Christopher R. Beha: I read from my novel, What Happened to Sophie Wilder, at Skylight Books in LA. After I’d finished, I was signing books for the store when a friend told me that Tom Hanks had walked in while I was reading. I inscribed a copy of my book to him and brought it over. He was every bit as gracious and charming as Tom Hanks is when you meet him in your imagination. “If I like it, I’ll send you a note,” he told me. “If you don’t get a note, assume I haven’t read it.” Later I had to go tell the store that I’d given away the stock I was supposed to be signing, and as I was paying for the book I’ve given him, Hanks got in line behind me (He was buying The Art of Fielding.)