Thursday, July 7, 2011

Josh Ritter packs the house at Politics and Prose

Josh Ritter serenading his lucky fans during the reading
New Politics and Prose owners Bradley Graham and  Lissa Muscatine started their tenure off with a bang last week when musician Josh Ritter came to the bookstore to read from his first novel, Bright's Passage. As I approached the store looking for parking, the swarm of cars moving in and out of the lot sent me back through the neighborhood streets until I found a space. Silly me. I thought nobody would really know about him or that he wrote a book. Wrong. In one of the biggest readings the bookstore has ever seen, Ritter not only read from his book, he asked the audience repeatedly how he was doing and thanked us plebians for being there. Then to help put the book (which is about a WWI soldier and features an angel) into context, he'd pick up the guitar to sing a couple of songs with angels in them. Yes! The audience was rapt. You could have heard a pin drop.

And, in case you don't know Josh Ritter (and that's probably not possible), he never stops smiling. He's like a massive ball of brilliance, creativity, warmth and friendliness all rolled into one incredible human being. Not only did he read, thoughtfully answer every audience question and throw in a literary reference or two or three, he signed books for three hours. EVERY person got a personal greeting, a hug and the trademark grin. And during all of this, he never sat down. So, kudos to all of the store staff and owners for NOT closing shop and putting Ritter on the street--because, yes, he would have stood outside before he let one fan go home with their book unsigned. (One staffer happy to be working overtime for this occasion, said she would be ordering him an after-hours pizza.) And thanks to Josh Ritter for being able to provide so much inspiration and joy to so many people, not only by his music, but also just by his very presence.

The wait = 2.5 hours. The hug = priceless

...and conversation, too

Yes, for me and the other 200 people in the room, this was worth waiting for.

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