Friday, October 24, 2003

The appeal of the Bouchercon Bar 

April Smith was one of the many, many authors attending Bouchercon last week. I glimpsed her briefly but unfortunately never got a chance to speak to her. However, she latched on to the most important aspect of BCon, which is, of course, the bar. Unfortunately, the link's only available to subscribers, but thanks to the wonders of Lexis-Nexis (see, Elizabeth, you don't have to work for New York Magazine to get access!) I'll give you some of the highlights.

Smith asks, rightfully so, what the appeal of the bar is at such an event.

"You can smoke and drink," [Gary] Phillips said, grinning at the obvious. "It's a place to keep up an image that's not true."

Others were not as bubbly: "Nobody's picking anybody up," complained David Corbett, who received an Anthony Award nomination for his novel "The Devil's Redhead." "Everybody knows I'm a flirt," he added inconsolably. (ed.: I'll let this comment stand on its own. But Corbett's books are very, very good.)

But Jim Pascoe of Uglytown gets it right: "Bouchercon is about the bar," he insisted. "It's a worthwhile investment to come here, a chance to schmooze retailers, fans and peers. These are the tastemakers of the mystery industry. When a buzz gets around, that's priceless." ed.: He's on the money, considering one of his big books, Sean Doolittle's BURN, was the most buzzed-about book at the convention.)

And what of power brokers? Are there? The closest, perhaps, is Otto Penzler. He was in a great mood the entire time as "he was there celebrating his 2-day-old engagement to Lisa Atkinson." (ed.: for what it's worth, she's a 30something blonde who looked very, very happy. Congratulations to the happy couple.)

Then, there are the rumors. One popped up "that Walter Mosely (who does not drink and skipped the bar) had just won $700 at the tables, triggering a creative discussion on how to beat the odds." (ed.: the version I heard was that he'd won $1100, and shrugged it off as basically being pocket change. Suffice it to say there were a lot of incredulous authors once they got wind of the story.)

Finally, there was the International Guest of Honor, Ian Rankin. Clamored by everyone, Smith barely got a chance to talk to him before 2 agents swooped in to crash some parties. Quickly, though, she manages to ask for Rankin's opinion on drinking at Bouchercon and at home:

"Booze is cheaper in Edinburgh, " he mused, then paused before delivering a classic Rankin observation: "The bars are small, and dark, and full of disappointed men."

Like Smith, I too think that is one classic line.

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