Houston author Chris Cander’s “Dispatches from Book Tour,” a multi-week blog series of reflections and updates along her 17-city U.S. book tour for her new novel The Weight of a Piano (published by Knopf), continues with Dispatch 4 from Fairhope, Alabama.
Fellow writer and dear friend Caroline Leech panicked this morning when she found out I didn’t have what she thought was adequate outerwear to endure the Polar vortex that is bearing down on the US during this leg of the book tour. In full mama-mode, she quickly wrapped her own scarf around me and wished me and my friend Dina, who’s joining me for two days, luck as we headed off to IAH. The flight to Mobile, Alabama was easy and uneventful, as was the drive to the gorgeous little town of Fairhope, which sits on bluffs that overlook Mobile Bay.
We arrived in time to walk around the charming pedestrian-friendly shopping district filled with locally owned stores and eateries. We stopped in to R Bistro for a glass of wine, and made friends with the bartender, a well-read, gentle giant named Elmo. A true Southern gentleman, he even took an hour off his shift to attend my reading at Page & Palette.
Author Rick Bragg once wrote that “you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a serious-faced novelist [in Fairhope],” so naturally the local independent bookstore is seriously wonderful. The Page & Palette staff are dedicated and knowledgeable, and really know how to put on an event—in a back room with a bar. There was a full house relaxing in chairs and barstools. Based on their engagement and thoughtful questions, the readers in this town are just as serious as its writers.
When I was here four years ago on book tour for Whisper Hollow, Steph Crowe, the events manager, asked about my then-next project. She was an early and avid fan of The Weight of a Piano and one of the booksellers around the country who nominated the book for an Indie Next Pick, a distinction for which I’m very grateful.
I’m headed to Jackson, Mississippi today, and although the temperature continues to drop, I’ve got Caroline’s scarf and am ready to hit the road.