Hodding Carter and Patricia Derian were my hosts in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where Hodding teaches at UNC. I read at the Regulator in Durham (another famous independent bookstore) on a rainy fall night. Hodding introduced me, saying outrageous things, but not as outrageous as what he might have said.
I talked about needing a friend in those civil rights years in Mississippi, and finding brave, liberal Patt Derian. I used to tell her she wasn’t afraid because she was from Virginia and didn’t know who to be afraid of. The truth was—she was as fearless facing down a Mississippi sheriff as she would be later when she became Jimmy Carter’s Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and faced down dictators. As opposed to me, who was scared to death.
We ate afterwards down the street at Elmo’s diner. Let me recommend the Mexican chocolate milkshake (For some reason, after a reading, I want to reward myself; hence the milkshake, which, along with the candy reward and the cake reward, has been terrible for my shape on this two weeks’ tour).
Patt’s son Craig bought FOUR books, second only to Linden’s friend Jennifer, who bought SIX. You can’t imagine what it means to an author to see someone approach with more than one book. “You’ll get writer’s cramp from signing,” someone said.
No, I won’t.