Even the most famous artists and writers have to cope with those who shamelessly demand that they weigh in on their own feeble creative efforts. Say the late great Maurice Sendak who, this past January in a wonderful two-part interview (available here and here), said of Stephen Colbert’s attempt to write a children’s book, I Am A Pole (And So Can You!), ”The sad thing is, I like it.”
It being Stephen Colbert, the book was snapped up by a publisher (no doubt causing much envy among those still trying to get their first effort noticed) and a scant few months later I Am a Pole (And So Can You!) is out in stores, among them the venerable children’s book emporium, The Bank Street Bookstore where Colbert recently did a book signing.
I arrived half an hour early to find a line out the door and down the street being efficiently handled by a security guard, something I think may last have happened at midnight before the final Harry Potter book was released. But while those waiting for Rowling’s finale were both children and adults, those waiting for Colbert were almost exclusively adults, many of whom I’d venture to guess had never been there before. As the line wove into the store I was entertained by attempts by grownups who came in saying they weren’t there for the signing, but just wanted to browse –upstairs (where the signing was). Smart bookstore staffers politely ask them what they were looking for, that they would get it for them and it was amusing to listen to the vague responses — a book for a kid, for someone who was seven…er… six…er….liked…er animals. At least they didn’t ask for a book about a pole!
Before long I saw a seriously scary body guard and then there was Stephen Colbert himself genially waving at all of us and thanking us for coming. We were efficiently moved through, Stephen scrawled his signature on books at a clip, and we were allowed to take photos from afar. Here’s my less-than-stellar Iphone effort:
As I left I saw this lovely display of Maurice Sendak books. He would have, I like to think, delighted in the irony of it all.