Why I Went: Skibell's earlier books of fiction have received some recognition, and I was looking for the opportunity to familiarize myself with his work. I thought My Father's Guitar, which is short collection of personal stories about his extended Jewish family and his growing up in Lubbock, Texas was a good place to start. Moreover, I am a Buddy Holly fan, who also grew up in Lubbock, and since music plays a role in some of Skibell's narratives I was interested on his take of the legendary rock 'n roller, who perished "the day the music died."
Attendance: Given it was a Sunday afternoon during the Thanksgiving holiday, I didn't expect a crowd. There were only eight people in the small reading room at the store, but I am one who thinks the absence of decent crowds reflects more on the (non) reading public than the author.
What He Read: The small turnout did not keep Skibell from reading two pieces, "Irvin in Wonderland" and "International Type of Guy" with as much verve as if he were in a lecture hall. The Irvin story about being bedside with an ailing father will resonate with anyone who ever has sat beside an aging parent in the hospital. Another aspect that links the pieces is Skibell's ruminations on personal memory. During the reading he emphasized that all the stories are true to the best of his recollection (though a few names have been changed), but that he even realizes that his interpretation may be different from his sisters' or daughter's account of same family event.
What Question Did I Ask That Normally I Would Be Too Shy to Ask: I asked Skibell if he was familiar with the Greil Marcus' essay about Buddy Holly in Marcus' book The History of Rock N Roll in 10 Songs (2014). In the essay, "Crying, Waiting, Hoping," Marcus writes about Holly's major impact in music and specifically the day in 1955 Elvis came to Lubbock. In the photo, shown here, Buddy Holly is the only person wearing glasses and can be seen in the right side of the picture. Skibell was well aware of the history of the photo, which was very rare until, well, er, the internet.
Did I Buy the Book?: I had trouble getting a reviewer's copy of the book from Skibell's publisher in a timely manner and we chatted afterwards about this unfortunate delay. Since as a reviewer I wanted to read some of the Skibell book before attending the reading, I admitted getting a used copy from Amazon, which did arrive in time. To lessen my guilt and to support a fine local independent bookstore like A Cappella, I did purchase a book there of greater or equal value -- Padgett Powell's latest book of short stories Cries for Help (2015).