Cranbook in Bloomfield Hills and the Rudolf Steiner Waldorf school in Ann Arbor have been reading my book. Some of the Waldorf students came to my reading at the Ann Arbor Public library, and they warmed my heart with their earnestness and interest. I met people from my past, people who knew my sisters, people who knew my parents. People who did remember me from elementary school and high school. People who didn't remember me from elementary school and high school.
I read from my book, spoke about identity and Halloween, spoke about dreams and aspirations (what drives us and what limits us). I read passages from my novel--the opening scene in which Harry is driving to work, the one about Harry and the bike giveaway, the one about Harry's visit to the Detroit Institute of Arts when Diego Rivera is painting the frescoes, the one about Ruth on the way to her meeting, the one about her when she finds herself at Margo Solomon's Moroccan luncheon.
The capstone event was my visit with the U-Michigan Honors students and parents. I first met with them in an informal lunch setting, where I spoke about my life path, from shy, intimidated college student who never said a word in class, to editor and writer, now standing before them and not even nervous. A miracle. Here is the story that one student wrote about that lunch. Later that afternoon, I spoke to an audience of parents and students in one of the university's big lecture halls, and even then, I WAS NOT NERVOUS (unbelievable).
At that session, I read a section of the novel that I had not read aloud before. It's from the beginning of the Riot/Rebellion chapter, when Alvin and his friends are heading out on a Saturday night, and it's the closest the reader gets to Alvin's inner life. I'd never thought about reading that scene aloud before. I've always felt a little skittish about Alvin--that perhaps I had taken too big a risk in trying to write from the point of view of a black teenage male. But I remembered something from a recent book event, where the facilitator pointed out that the wide-ranging book discussion had failed to say much about either Alvin or his father, Curtis, and that perhaps this represented a kind of discrimination or ignore-ance. So I read to the U-Michigan audience about Alvin, and I loved doing it. I felt that the section had energy, momentum, that it portrayed him (and his anger and his doubts and his wisdom) with respect. And I'm so glad I chose that section.
I could say a million more things about this visit to Michigan, but now I am back, and now I am exhausted. Plus I am undergoing the rebellion of the electronics--both my oven (with Thanksgiving coming) and my laptop (with another novel to write) seem to be in a state of distress. And I have an award event to attend tonight--the prose competition of the Guild Complex (which I judged).