I’ve spent a couple of days in Bangor and Orono, Maine, soaking up the lovely hospitality of the folks here.
The Bangor Public Library is one of the most beautiful, graceful libraries I’ve ever seen with fabulous architecture and rooms and rooms full of books and nooks for reading. A big thanks to them and Lippincott Books (who are carrying Stealing Nasreen in Bangor) for making our “little reading” special.
Next, I spent time at the University of Maine at Orono, where I was invited by The Women’s Studies Program, GLBT Services and Wilde Stein to do a book reading. The sponsors made me feel very welcome, took great care of me and later invited me to their annual “Know Your Status” dinner. The night was about raising awareness for HIV testing and a highlight was a performance by Renaissance, UMaine’s all-women A Cappella group. One of the women did long saxophone-sounding riffs with nothing but her lips.
And it seems that UMaine, besides being a pretty campus, is also a safe one for queers (I was told it was rated in the top 15 in the US for its queer friendliness). My reading was just one of many events to celebrate their Pride Week, and they should be very proud of that.
Orono and Bangor are sweet little towns. People are friendly–they talk to you when while you wait for the light to change (sadly, ‘what? you talking to me?’ was my first response), you can flag down their local bus, a lumbering orange vehicle known as the Bat (you can try flagging down the TTC and even chase a bus for 2 blocks in the pouring rain and the driver won’t think about stopping for you) and bus fare is one dollar (haven’t experienced this since before puberty).
I’m heading off to Texas tomorrow, feeling refreshed. I’m going to see family and do a mini writing retreat in Del Rio for a few days. I’m searching for my second novel’s ending, and with over 300 pages written, I’m happy to say I will soon go into edits and revisions. Stay tuned!