Hey, it's chilly this morning -- effin breeze acquired teeth overnight and the weather man says rain is coming later on. I debate whether or not to water the sullen plants and decide not to -- let 'em get used to northern Jersey au naturel. I got better things to do, like stew in my own juice. Haven't done that in a while.
It's probably because of BEA that I feel this way. Unmoored, listless. Some thirty thousand people are gonna gather at the Javits Center for three days, mostly to see each other and talk about books. They'll come to sniff at all the publishers' offerings under one roof and exclaim, "Geez, there's just way too many titles! And so many of them the same! Do these guys really believe there's a market for all this?" And they'll come to take the temperature of an ailing industry and wonder, "What's to become of us?"
They're gonna bring a lot of love with them, a lot of passion, good ideas, and a desire to learn, survive and succeed. But they're also gonna bring a host of primal doubts and worries, confusion and fatigue. So many warring emotions, you'd think the big ugly hall would combust, but it won't. Maybe because the format is frozen in time, despite the technology du jour, maybe because book people are genuinely too nice to take their anxieties out on one other.
BEA is part Babel, part revival. It's High Camp and low comedy. It's a circus and a school. It doesn't matter one little bit, yet it is at the very heart of our industry. Which makes it serious -- if BEA goes the way of all flesh, where and when will we come together as a living community? On-line? Off-line? In line?
For the rest of the world, BEA doesn't exist, even as a bit of trivia. It is ours alone. To have and to hold, or to kill and bury. Judging by years past, nothin's gonna live up to the hype, not even our agony over the shape of the event itself. I plan to show up, but my convention badge won't have a company name on it this year, just mine. I'll be walkin the floor for myself, but I won't be alone.