Had a very exciting reading for Dragon Chica at the wonderful Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver, Colorado.
I arrived early with my father when suddenly the lights went out. At first we thought it was just a blown fuse, but then everyone noticed the lights for the whole block were out…all buildings, all street lights, even the traffic lights.
Soon there were firetrucks racing down the street, police cars, sirens.
The helpful staff at Tattered Cover were leading patrons around with flashlights. My father and I decided to head to the attached restaurant, Encore, where we were allowed to sit in the dark in their waiting room. The maitre d’ told us about her exciting blackout experience in New York City from a few years ago, and my father shared his exciting blackout stories from 1977 in NYC (which was immortalized in Spike Lee’s movie Summer of Sam). Ah, the looting, the gunshots, the chaos…what memories!
The most excitement we witnessed through the windows tonight, however, was a brave (crazy?) man who decided to jaywalk through the intersection of eight lanes of traffic. I have to say, Denverites are very polite. I have a feeling he would have been a damp spot on the pavement in many other cities.
At last the lights came back on, and my father was even able to eat a lovely heart-healthy entrée at Encore, before it was time to head back to Tattered Cover for my reading.
I was rather afraid no one would show up because of the blackout. However, we had a lovely turnout including many family friends who had braved more than 11 blocks of traffic-light-less intersections in the dark to drive to the bookstore. Much thanks to Joe McGowan (my former boss at the Associated Press-Denver Bureau), Babette André (a former foreign correspondent who reported from Vietnam during the American-Vietnam War years), Lisa Stuart (a founding member of the J-USA club at CU-Boulder—-talk about memories!), Lynn Taylor (a Denver public schools librarian) and her charming husband, and Joe Nguyen (editor of Asian Avenue Magazine and www.asianxpress.com, which both cover the Asian American community in the Denver-metro area). Sorry I didn’t catch everyone else’s names.
As many of the people present had traveled to SE Asia or personally had experience with the arrival of the first generation of SE Asian refugees in America (including friends and family members), we talked about the circumstances that led to more than 100,000 Cambodian refugees being relocated to the U.S. after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-1979), the infamous American bombing campaign in Cambodia (Operation Menu), the difficulties of diagnosing PTSD then and now across different cultures, and even the current state of politics in Cambodia as well as the positive efforts made by Cambodian Americans to form NGOs and other groups to help Cambodia…from education to entrepreneurship.
Pat Walsh asked if I would put together a book club guide for Dragon Chica and so I will get working on that. Will post as soon as it’s done!
As this is my final book tour stop until spring 2011, if you want an autographed copy of Dragon Chica, you can order one from firstname.lastname@example.org. They ship worldwide.