I have to say, Gregory Hill’s reading for East of Denver last night at the Tattered Cover on Colfax was a little unusual, but it was a lot of fun. There was humor, there was music, there was even some reading of the novel. It was a bit different from a lot of the readings I’ve been to, but in a good way and not as different as I think Greg was worried it would be.
After all, he started out by making it clear that he still has trouble seeing himself as an “author.” This is his first published novel and he is much more familiar with his rock and roll persona (having been in various bands for fifteen years or so, one of the various bands he appears to be part of now being called The Babysitters). He gave disclaimers about this, leading into mention of how this was all new and interesting for him and that maybe one day it wouldn’t be and therefore the day we were sharing with him was likely going to be the most magical of his life as an “author.”
Of course, I think he has a different image of authors than I do. Most authors I know (like myself) are often crude, drunken, and informal. I think Greg kind of thinks of authors as tweed and Harvard…which is definitely not the image I have.
Either way, Greg started the show with a discussion about mustaches (including discussion of how yelling at misbehaving cars from his bicycle with mustache and beard leads to fearful compliance whereas the same yelling with just a mustache leads to more antagonistic and downright aggressive responses). This, surprisingly and humorously enough, actually led into discussion of the book and reading of a portion.
Now, I have to admit, I hadn’t heard of East of Denver too long ago. I was deciding which reading I wanted to go to this month and didn’t recognize anyone on the list. I just thought East of Denver sounded interesting (interesting enough to walk the four and a half or so miles to the reading). The basic storyline: a guy comes home to his senile and widowed father’s farm to find out that his father has been cheated out of almost everything by a local banker. Of course, with the help of some local misfit friends, decides to rob the very bank that has taken everything from them. Wouldn’t you be intrigued too?
Still, I wasn’t quite prepared for the comedy of the scene that Greg read. In the scene, the main character’s father (who has Alzheimer’s) may have gotten the two of them sprayed by a skunk. To be honest, he can’t be sure as neither of the two has a sense of smell. He calls for help and has to keep his father busy until help arrives. To do so he walks his father around to different spots where they can see the moon rise over and over, fresh for his father each time, and at the finish of each “rise” his father shoots at the moon. Just from the humor, the tenderness, and the oddity of that one scene I knew I’d picked the right reading this month to go to.
Anyway, Greg finished reading his passage. Then he had his band (The Babysitters) some up and they played a song. He answered a few questions and then signed some books. It may not have been quite the same format as other readings I’ve gone to down there, but I’m really glad I walked all that way for it. It was a good choice and I’m really looking forward to reading the book.