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     Geiger Books opened mid-Reagan -- big, airy -- next to a designer shoes.  Geiger was short, dumpy, used to teach boys' school French.  He brought authors in, two or three a week.  I bought books, heard authors, waited my turn.  Geiger never smiled, never nodded, never said, "Hello."  My next book, Geiger saw it was about a homeless,   told my publisher, "No."

     Next book, new publisher tried Salome's, cross town.  She didn't return calls.  I went in.  Salome said, "I don't speak to writers.  Have your publisher call."  A woman booked Geiger's now.  She offered a date.  I sold 50 copies -- 47 to people I invited.  We partied in a cafe across the street.  My next book, Geiger had fired the woman.  His new booker gave me a date.  I sold 35 copies -- 33 to people I invited.  We partied at the cafe.

     I've read -- sold six books or ten or zero.  The stores served wine, cheese, gave me a tote bag, a book.  Geiger served nothing, gave nothing.  He finally spoke -- yelled at me for copying notes out of a guide to New Orleans.  Shamed, I bought it.  "Exchanges must be within ten days."  The cashier winked.  Geiger fired her.  He fired the guy who booked me.  He told the press readings cost too much.

     My new book, I thought, Fuck Geiger.  I ring up 95% of his sales.  He makes five dollars for my one.  I went to the cafe.  "How'd you like to launch a book?  I bring the stock.  You keep the bar."  The owner bought me a drink.  The next time we went in, his wife gave Adele and I muffins 

    

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Dear Bob

I used to (but not very vehemently) lament being up here in the literary backwater. But the more stories I hear like yours, the more fortunate I realize we are, living up here. Although only two Alaskans that I know of actually make a LIVING at it, (and no, I'm not one of them) we are all treated like...well...WRITERS. We get invited to everything from Bar Mitzvahs to bookstores to rescue missions. Perhaps that is because the tall tale is so ingrained in Alaskan history. Alaskans can't get enough of a well-crafted lie.

I guess this goes back to the Klondike gold rush. The only ones who made any money were the guys selling the shovels to the prospectors. :)

But, we keep on shoveling.

 

Eric