Two Square Inches of Fame

This is PEOPLE Magazine from Oct. 22. It has a two inch square recommending my book as a Great Non-fiction Read. And while it doesn’t change much of anything I think about myself, it’s changed the way some people think about my book.

A couple of people who weren’t interested in buying the book when I was in their local bookstore hawking it saw that lying open on the table, and suddenly Little Bookstore got a whole lot more interesting. Same thing with Walmart; some friends found out the Big W was stocking me, and my life changed in their eyes.

Might we just dial back a second here? A book that talks about the value of community, how people can take charge of their own lives, not “rent inside their own skins” but really enjoy and examine the decisions they make about why, how, and where they buy books–is embraced by mainstream commercialism, and that makes people like it more?

Irony, thy name is marketing. It’s the small version of what’s on the front cover of the People my two square inches are in. Adele is pictured on the cover, and it says, just below her face on this 2-million circulation magazine, “How and why the singing sensation lives outside the spotlight.”

Ummm…..

Don’t get the wrong idea. I’m more grateful than words can express that people are embracing this book (which they couldn’t do if they didn’t know about it via the media), that they like how it describes life in small towns, that some neighbors from down the street and across state lines have emailed to say “You’re describing what it felt like when I moved to a small town/ got a divorce and started over/ quit my job to start an art studio/ lost my daughter.” There’s just nothing like life in the slow lane to solidify watching the strangeness of mainstream media and its effect on what people think you are.

I am delighted that people identify with, take pleasure from, even repeat what I said about small towns, books, cats and life. And it pleases me no end that the quote people are starting to come up to me at book signings and reel off, with a big grin, is,”I’ll put the kettle on.” (Plus, they ask after Beulah. She’s well, thank you.)

But at the bottom of two square inches of fame, Walmart, Amazon and the rest of the pile-up, Jack and I run a small bookstore in a rural part of Coalfields Appalachia for people who like to read. We are happy. We like our friends, we like our church, we like our store, we’re lucky, we’re careful, and we work hard.

Good enough, gang!

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4 Comments

Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, folklore and ethnography, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA

4 responses to “Two Square Inches of Fame

  1. Janene

    I got your book because it was at the local,independent book store in the small town where I work. This town has 2 used/new independent book stores which I try to visit weekly. I find local book sellers to have a better range of books of interest

  2. Elizabeth

    I saw the review in People Magazine! I’m buying the book tomorrow and am so excited you will be visiting NC!

    • wendywelch

      Will we see you in Charlotte, Asheville or Southern Pines? Asheville is Jack’s favorite city and I’ve never been to Charlotte, but am connecting with a college friend there I haven’t seen in years. Plus we get to visit The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, and their owners were a lot of fun at SIBA last month–really lovely people.

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