Last night I went to Portsmouth with my boyfriend and my sister to see Heather King read from her book Parched at River Run Bookstore. Sis is a friend of the author's brother Joe and that's pretty much how I ended up going, but I really enjoyed it.The store is a small brick and exposed beam, quintessentially Portsmouth kind if space and the weather was cool and foggy the way I like it to be in that town. There were a dozen or fifteen folding chairs set up facing a wooden table and a music stand. The author arrived a little on the late side as she came right from an interview on WSCA, Portsmouth's community run and driven radio station. God, Portsmouth is just so artsy and precious sometimes I want to scream but I know all those streets like my own dreams and nightmares since I spent the first eighteen years of my life within walking distance of downtown. But I digress...
The reading was excellent, very heartfelt and sincere and her writing is tight and evocative and part of that is she's writing about places that are pieces of my heart too. Different years and slightly different locales, but when she decribes the sea and the summer gardens at her grandmother's house and the way she loved books so much as a young kid I felt it all like it was mine.
The book is about her two decades of being a drunk and her recovery. Her mom and some of her brothers, family friends and and her ex-husband who she said she loves to death were all there. I can't imagine anything more difficult or more rewarding than reading to an audience made up of people who knew you the whole way through. She read some sections from the beginning of the book about her family and growing up. Some of it made me laugh or smile and other time she made me cringe, like when she talked about having given up drinking but going to bars and drinking soda water and then going to doing coke in the bathroom. Ouch. It's amazing how much we're willing to deceive ourselves sometimes.
I know I don't know her but I somehow felt proud of her as I sat there and listened to her read and saw her continue on at parts that choked her up. What an accomplishment to have come so far from that life she was living and bring it all full circle to be back on her home turf with her family there, as a published author on a book tour for her first book, reading in a brick and exposed beam independent bookstore. She said all she went through was worth it because it brought her to where she is now. I think where she is is somewhere awesome.