Friday, October 23, 2009


Elliot Bay, Take Two

I wrote earlier about my Elliot Bay napkin, which still sits inside the copy of Picking Bones from Ash that I use for readings. I loved my visit to this venerable store--and was distressed, along with everyone else, to read that it might be moving. I remember when Coliseum Books in New York City--a comfort for me for a great many years, from college to my grueling days working in corporate America--left its midtown location. Things were never quite the same.

My journey to Elliot Bay started in Portland. Fueled in part by some romantic ideas, my mother and I decided to take the train from Portland to Seattle. I'm glad the old station still stands.

And I loved the detail of the interior of the station--here's the ceiling.

Unfortunately, our train also ended up leaving three and a half hours late. I have friends who travel "the road" to make a living--musicians. I wrote to one of them that I supposed this kind of travel snafu happens all the time. "All the time," he confirmed. And for a while, I wondered if I would even make it to Elliot Bay Book Co on time.

Once the train came, we were all relieved. And I was fascinated by just how much nicer this Amtrak interior was than anything you ever see on the East Coast.

Fortunately, the scenery more than made up for the delay, and I was reminded of the many times now that I have traveled by train in Japan and Europe.

Here I am, on the phone, calculating that if the train really does arrive according to its new and delayed schedule, I will have exactly 20 minutes to "glamorize." I decided that this would in fact be enough time to take my exhausted, sleep deprived (due to the fire alarm of the previous evening) self and get ready for the reading.

And somehow I did manage a moderate transformation.

I loved reading here. I loved the room, the people and the questions I received.

In this photo, an Elliot Bay staff person is explaining to me the treasure of the "author autograph book." Here, writers sign their names, and leave a note for the book store. There are so many treasures inside, and it felt special to pen a little note of thanks.

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