Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret
among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture Marly Youmans is a novelist and poet out of sync with the times
but in tune with the ages. --First Things

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Midnight Crier (at 2:00 a.m.): Got Books? Let's Read conference

What I found curious at the Hodge Podge Books conference:

hundreds of people wearing little blinky name tags;

lots of children's book authors, many of whom live an arduous life of flying from school to school (school visits sound to the uninitiated like comical nightmares--uncontrolled children in assemblies, missing equipment, machines that begin to smoke just before burning up a carousel of slides, etc.);

hundreds of people wearing those blinky name tags and neon necklaces;

illustrator-writer Judy Byron Schachner, who looks like me (her third-grade picture with tight braids and crooked mama-cut bangs might even be me);

Frank Hodge, who has organized such events for several decades and is sweet and gentle and funny;

illumination (complete with the blinkies) at late night wine-and-yack with various writers;

picture book presentations, particularly ones by twin Judy and by Denise Fleming (wish I could have gone to them all--I wanted to see Tracey Campbell Pearson talk about painting chickens, always an irresistible subject);

teachers, who prove to be infinitely various in their ways and backgrounds;

hundreds of people wearing blinky name tags and neon necklace and all holding up globes-on-a-wand filled with whirling light (why haven't all the meetings I've gone to given me toys that my children can't resist, I wonder?);

the Desmond Hotel, a site entirely suitable to the meeting in its make-believe.

I have also gone up in my daughter's estimation by bringing her a signed Coville--I bought too many books, though I craved more--because she passed through a Coville-devouring phase on the way to her current deep-sworn allegiance to Diana Wynne Jones.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.