Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Bouchercon Report

I had a great time at Bouchercon. The list of people I talked to at one time or another (far too briefly in most cases) would extend for miles, so I'm not going to bother making one. All I'll say is that it was a lot of fun to see everybody and get in a few words with a lot of people.

I actually attended quite a few panels this year, but of course the highlights were the DAPA-Em panels, by which I mean the ones with apa members in charge. (I'd explain what DAPA-Em is, but tht would be a long, long story.) The first panel I got to was the “negelected writers” panel with Bev DeWeese, Beth Feyden (the Fan Guest of Honor), Ted Hertel, Gary Warren Neibuhr, and Maggie Mason. I have to admit they mentioned a couple of writers I hadn’t sampled, but now I’m strongly tempted.

Marv Lachman's panel on the history of Bouchercon should have been required of everyone at the convention. People often wonder what Bouchercon is all about, and Marv gave a great overview in the time allotted, even though at the end he violated the “never say never” rule by holding up his book and plugging it, something he once said he’d never do.

George Kelley’s panel on The Kelley Collection was superb, and it generated a lot of good comments. Not to mention that we got a fridge magnet with covers of a Jim Thompson novel and a William Irish collection on it. No doubt it will be worth zillions on eBay in years to come.

Ted Fitzgerald, former Sandstrom winner (that's him in the picture with me), moderated a panel on “the mystery short story” that I enjoyed quite a bit, and it made me want to read something by Angela Zeman, whom I’ve neglected until now.

A non-DAPA-Em panel that I enjoyed immensely was the one on Harry Stephen Keeler, conducted by Fender Tucker and featuring Mike Nevins. I might not like to read Keeler, but I love hearing about him from people who have been infected with a great regard for his work. (If you think you might like to be infected, click here.

I also attended the "Not the White City Panel," which became the "UK Gun Control" panel after a short time. Moderator Al (Sunshine) Guthrie kept things under control, though I kept hoping that Ray (Even More Sunshine) Banks would pull a Godzilla. Al's introduction of Ray was possibly the most unusual I've ever heard at a Bouchercon.

The "P.I. in Pop Culture" panel was another rousing success, and I now think I'll have to read something by John Connolly. I've been avoiding his books because of their length (a bad habit of mine).

Any other year, the presence of
Polly P.I. would probably have been the highlight of the convention for me. Seeing the Cap’n and Steve (The Snake) Stilwell reduced to quivering lumps of testosterone was worth the trip to Chicago. But there was an event even more noteworthy (at least to me), and that was when I was named the recipient of the Don Sandstrom Memorial Award. I have to admit that I was thunderstruck. Talk about an unexpected honor! When my name was called, I turned red all over. I wasn’t sure I could get out of my chair and accept. It’s an award I’m not at all sure I deserve, but I’m not planning to return it.

Judy and I did a few touristy things, like visiting the Navy Pier, taking the “habor tour” boat ride, and riding the trolley for the city tour. Then, on Sunday, Patti Cheney got us organized enough to visit the Shedd Aquarium. For me, this was a highlight right up there with the other two I mentioned. Give me dolphins, whales, and penguins, and I’m a happy guy. Jeff and Ann Smith went along, too, so we got to visit with them while we sat on concrete benches and waited 45 minutes for the dolphin show to begin. The show wasn’t as long as the wait (about a tenth as long, probably), but it was still great.

We didn’t eat at any fancy joints, but we ate well enough. The St. Martin's party provided major snacks one evening, and I considered going back to that pizza place for another meal, but I never did.

I hope everyone had as much fun at Bouchercon as I did. I’m looking forward to next year's con in Madison already. I just hope I can get there from Alvin, Texas.


Kent Morgan said...

Congratulations on the Sandstrom Award. I'm just back from our local independent mystery bookstore where I picked up the two Bouchercon programs to look through. The women who own the store said the conference was excellent this year and now I'm sorry I missed it. Who are the authors who you are now planning to read?

Bill said...

Angela Zeman and John Connolly are the two I should probably pick up. But I'm reading Ed McBain's Fiddlers at the moment.