I walked into the local bookstore and it smelled of coffee. The delta blues was playing softly. I set up my workstation on a side table, preparing to take notes. There were eight marigolds, a half-eaten muffin, and a nearly empty mug of some unknown beverage in my midst. The gothic fellow manning the coffee stand ate some sort of biscuit behind the counter. He spoke to a co-worker of an art studio that he used to have. Meanwhile, a man with glasses and slightly shaggy brown hair was setting things up for the reading: the podium, the microphone, and the chairs.
At first, I thought he was the author, but he wasn’t. William Conescu, the author, had short, curly black hair and no glasses. His eyelids were red. He seemed simultaneously nervous and illimitably delighted to be here. Support was present in the form of a close friend. This friend snapped a photo of William when the reading began. Before William Conescu approached the podium, a gray-haired lady placed flyers of the bookstore’s current events on the eighteen chairs arranged in the open room. Then she made an introduction, speaking largely to the seven people in the cafe area.
No one had yet sat in any of the chairs lined up in neat rows facing the podium. There were only four minutes left before the reading commenced. The sky darkened. Finally, two men draped their coats and scarves over the backs of chairs. I stood up to go to the restroom where there was graffiti on the walls, which, as usual, I could not decipher. When I returned there were eight people in attendance to the reading of Being Written, a novel by William Conescu. The gray-haired lady made a second introduction and turned the microphone over to the author.
Being Written is William Conescu’s first novel and was released last month. William explained that up to this point he has written short fiction. Actually, for quite some time after undergraduate study, William put off writing, waiting for some stability – for this job to start, for that move to be over. A theme in his novel, he said that many of the actors, writers, and musicians that he knew were not acting, writing, or playing. The protagonist of the novel is Daniel Fischer, and he is the sole character in the book that can hear the scratching of the author’s pencil.
Unfortunately, this also grants him the painful insight that he is a minor character, and has been for some time. So when the author seems to take interest in a young woman at the bar, Daniel throws himself into the scene and her life. He is not entirely prepared for this though, and the fact that he is minor kills his self-esteem. The second person point-of-view only intensifies this neurosis. William read the bar scene dramatically, like a play. He injected the prose with energy; it came alive. He finished the scene, gave us some more summary, and began another scene much later in the novel.
Daniel has evolved into a pawn used by Dehlia, the woman at the bar, in her relationship with pianist, Graham. Daniel is excited to have been elevated to pawn status; he has never been a pawn before. Then, suddenly, William Conescu opened the floor for questions. Someone asked about the publishing process. He said he had a good experience with them; actually, they were the reason that this story developed into the full-length novel that it is, rather than becoming a novella contained in a collection. Another person asked about point-of-view.
We learned that parts of the book are told in third person, parts are told in second; this allowed Daniel to be shown as an ordinary character in the story as well as close-up and neurotic. William writes with an outline, but does not strictly adhere to it; he likes to know that his writing is “going somewhere”. “Thank you’s” were exchanged, handshakes, and even phone numbers, which I found to be shocking. The author was sitting down, signing people’s books, looking up at them, rather than across the crowd from the mic. He said, “This has been really fun. ” I believed it.