Such was the scene at last Saturday's Los Angeles Festival Of Books. Scientologists were there. Conspiracy theorists were there. Bernadette Peters was there. Alicia Silverstone was there. David Lynch was there. My iPhone might still be there. Also present, a contingent of the loose aggregate of the LA-based Young Adult authors who gather under the umbrella LAYAs. This group occasionally mounts a confusing blend of performance and competition known as Layapolooza. Sometimes there's singing, sometimes there's audience participation, sometimes there's lessons about life. It's like an episode of Glee minus the sexual confusion(until after the show).
The Book Festival Layapolooza took the form of a kind of Young Adult Family Feud. Energetic ringmastress Cecil Castelucci divided the sheep-like contingent of authors into teams. She then fired questions most related to the opening lines of popular books at the opposing sides with the audience casting the final vote over who knew their stuff and who was bullshitting.
I performed brilliantly, a combination of in-depth literary knowledge allied with Cherry Cheva tapping out the answers on my back(except for one line that I misattributed to John Green only to be told I was wrong by the author himself who was standing a few feet away). Sadly, victory, was denied our team. Certainly not my fault.
Post-competition, the results of the raffle were unveiled. This was one of those everyone-who-enters-gets a-prize deals. The many, many winning ticket-holders got to peruse a table groaning with LAYA-authored books.
From my position on the YA stage, I had a clear view of the looks of concentration on the winners' faces as they took their time peering at the books, prodding them and then picking up the one that most appealed. Which is to say, I got a clear of view of the winners picking EVERY BOOK BUT MINE.
Yes, repressed memories of being picked last--and grudgingly, at that-- for sports teams came flooding back as I watched the piles of books surrounding Burning Ambition dwindle down until it was alone.
Finally, the last winner's name was announced. A burly dude with a mop of red hair and a t-shirt bearing the legend BERSERKER. BERSERKER approached the table with disdain. He looked at the last book standing. He grimaced at the cover which, okay, understandable. BERSERKER picked up my book with a thumb and forefinger like he was removing an unsightly turd from his spotless birdbath. Then he returned to his seat and hurled the book at a younger girl who looked thrilled at the missile headed her way.
(What do you mean, it sounds like a metaphor for how the book is doing? I don't get it.)
See you next year, authors, audience members and BERSERKER