Monday, September 19, 2011

I sat next to Lindsey Philpott at dinner last night.  Lindsey Philpott is the Southern CA-based knot expert who served as consultant to Susan Patron as she wrote her Lucky trilogy.  That hammock Lincoln was creating in Lucky Breaks?  Mr. Philpott created a model for Susan, so she could see it and touch it and know exactly how to describe it.

One would think that The Knot Guy would have string and yarn hidden about his person, but no - when we asked Mr. Philpott to demonstrate a knot, all he had on him was the string holding his glasses around his neck.  I can't remember the name of the knot, but apparently he tied this complex shape for the first time when he was 6 years old.

Mr. Philpott described to me the anxiety of showing a knot, created slowly and painstakingly in solitude, to a fellow expert and hoping for approval rather than disappointment.  He sounded very much the way a writer feels, offering up a manuscript to be read for the first time.  The passion he feels for his work is clear (despite not having any string with him); he described in meticulous detail globe knots - all the different ways they can look, depending on type of line used and many of factors.  Some of them can have 100 sides!  I imagined them looking like D and D dice made of string.  When I googled "globe knot" looking for images, the one I chose (the one above, due to its beauty) turned out to have been made by - Lindsey Philpott!

We were all at Skylight Books before dinner, celebrating the publication of Susan Patron's Lucky for Good with a packed house of writers and librarians and friends and fans.  It was a lovely way to end a literary weekend that also included a dinner with some Scholastic folks, some independent children's booksellers from the Southern CA , and - Allen Say!  He'd spoken at the Japanese American National Museum earlier that day. 

It was fascinating talking children's books with booksellers rather than librarians.  Several mentioned that Brian Selznick's Wonderstruck was selling slowly due to its $29.99 price, $3 more than The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  The booksellers felt that it crossed a psychological barrier for customers, and no wonder when you could buy it on Amazon tonight for $16.49.  Or get it at the library for free.  Not that I said that.  Man, it's got to be tough being an independent bookseller.

Though I think if Skylight Books was down the block instead of across town, I'd find myself spending quite a bit of money there...

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