My First Reading and Suiseki
W.E. Reinka -- writer, ex-book tour escort, and friend--gave me what turned out to be my pre-reading mantra: "Just remember, you're among friends." And fortunately that turned out to be true. About half the seats were filled with friends, the other half with people who just stopped by. There was no mike but it was small space, and I'm pretty sure everyone was able to hear the two sections from A Rumor of Gems that I read. I also read the last paragraph from my essay on The Lore of Stones [see www.endicott-studio.com ], because that's as close as I've come to figuring out the roots of this fascination/obsession with rocks and gems.
Thomas Harlan and his wife, Suzanne, and son Nathan were among those who showed, and Thomas, having published 5 novels, was a wonderfully calming influence. When I admitted that in the reading I had to slightly change the text, he assured me that nearly everyone does because there are just some things that don't work as well aloud as they do on the page. He also assured me that nearly every writer has a signing where no one shows up, so if it happens, not to take it personally. Being an introvert, I'll probably approach any sort of public performance with a bit of trepidation but this first one took a lot of the fear out of it.
I think we might have only sold 5 books as a result of the reading -- this is definitely not Harry Potter-- but the B&N staff were fine with that, telling me the point of the reading was to get me and the book known and out there, so I hope that's what it did. To all who stopped by, and to B&N staff who are supporting the book, you have my gratitude. There was one especially lovely moment. The reading was over, I was packing up to leave, when a friend I hadn't seen for years -- the collage artist David Adix--showed up with a friend of his. So David is now the third person whom I haven't been touch with in ages, who's turned up again thanks to the book. It's one of those gifts of having your work out there that no one tells you about.
Another friend this week told me about suiseki, and when she described it, I couldn't believe it was the first time I'd heard the term--partly because it's a stone-centered art and partly because in the past I've done a lot of research on traditional Japanese culture. Suiseki is, according to www.suiseki.com, "the study and enjoyment of naturally formed stones as objects of beauty." The word suiskei is composed of sui, which means water, and seki, which means stone. Suiseki are often displayed at bonsai shows because like bonsai, they are a world in microcasm.
For years now I've been collecting rocks that probably don't look like much to anyone else, but I look them and see mountain ranges and islands and desert canyons cut by water. To my delight, when I began reading about suiseki I discovered that there was an entire poetic language to catalog rocks of this sort. Among the Scenic Landscape Stones, are Mountain Stones that include Single and Tripple-Peak stones, Rugged Mountain stones, and Mesa Stones. There are also Waterfall and Plateau stones, Shore and Reef stones, and Slope and Cave stones. Additionally, suiseki classifies stones by color and surface pattern, among them Flower-, Leaf-, Snake-, Sun-, Star-, and Lightning-patterned stones.
I, of course, have an amateur's approach to suiseki. I don't have my stones displayed on the customized wooden stands, and I'd have to put a good deal of study into the matter before I could attempt to catalog any of my finds. And it's entirely possible that someone who actually practices the formal art of suiseki would find my collection laughable. Since I have no desire to exhibit my rocks, that's really not a problem. Most of my suiseki pieces consist of common granite, basalt, gneiss, feldspar, or sandstone, and the wonderful thing is that almost all are rocks picked up during walks on the beach or in the desert; many I found lying on on the side of the road. These are not objects which are either expensive or particularly hard to find. It's beauty that's all around us and only needs be recognized.
Okay, back to my deadlines.