“Lemuria Books,” somebody in Jackson said, “is this left-wing bookstore on the edge of town.” What it is is a great independent bookstore, filled with the works of southern writers and I was honored to be asked to read there (The last time I attended a event at Lemuria, it was a birthday party for Eudora Welty).
The friends of University Press provided wine for the evening and the room filled. It’s a long room with people in chairs around tables. I couldn’t quite see to the back with the lights down.
I began and, to me, the audience looked intense and curious, but not as friendly as my California and Miami audiences. This might have been paranoia working overtime, but they didn’t laugh at my tattoo stocking, and they looked stern when I talked about bigotry. Was the applause warm? I was too much inside the moment to tell.
The last question was: What do your children think? My daughter Allison was there and I asked her to answer. She said that all children wish their parents stayed together, but she’d had a great life, and was proud of her mother. She said everyone who knew Fred Craig knew she’d had a wonderful father. She teared up. Everyone cheered and I ended it there. Later she told me that she and I were breaking up for making her stand and cry in front of strangers.
Some people who came up afterward to have their books signed held my hand in theirs and thanked me fervently for writing the book. I wish I could hold their faces and forget the friends who chose not to come.