With the help of my life partner, who sold books as well as assisted with set up, take down, and transportation, I had a fine reading on this pleasant August night in Brooklyn. People began arriving about a half hour before the reading so they could enjoy a light meal before the 7PM start.
The Scene: upraised stage, cushioned wooden chair, side table with mike
I sat while reading to rest my healing ankle. Buddies from both sides of our family (mine from middle school and my partner’s from high school), unaware of their hidden symmetry, sat next to each other on the cushioned, wall-hugging bench opposite the stage.
Extended family members and captivating people we came to know during the evening, sat closest to the stage in wooden chairs nestled around small, round tables. One person sat stage right on the cushioned bench that circled the room’s perimeter.
Starting at the beginning of the book, I introduced my mother, Josephine E. Jones, and outlined the structure of the book. I then read a scene in which my mother had a spirited dispute with her employer.
The signal for the end of the fifteen-minute intermission was my rendition, a capella, of one of my mother’s favorite songs: Brook Benton’s Kiddio.
Here I showed my mother in her role as community activist. She organized the first block cleanup for 122nd St. between Lenox and Seventh Ave., where her brownstone was located.
Q & A
The seven-member audience was a warm and engaging one. Provocative questions related the book’s content to young people’s issues of personal growth, achievement, and awareness of their African American heritage.
As my buddy, Nina Beaty, said, “I think it’s wonderful that you got our names so we had a spontaneous sense of a micro-community in the cafe (which I really liked, too).”
People bought books for friends as well as themselves. One man could not stay, but came in just to buy a book! (He must have heard about it on David Rothenberg’s radio show, Any Saturday.) I was quite pleased with the reading and that we made the 11PM bus back home.