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► My so-called book tour

To begin an interview with me on Eugene’s KLCC recently, host Eric Alan referred to the “book tour” I was, uh, launching.

I mentally chuckled. Some listeners, I supposed, must have imagined me jet-setting from Boston to New York to Portland, my hand cramping up from autographing books for fans in lines that snaked out the bookstore and around the block.

Me? I imagined myself giving a book talk in a restaurant while a waiter with a bass drum pounded by, drowning me out in celebration of a diner’s birthday.

I imagined myself desperately trying to get a projector to work at a Lions Club.

Or taking a corner in my 1995 Nissan pickup and my suitcase of books slamming into my shoulder.

Sunday, Oct. 28, at 2 p.m., when I talk about Cascade Summer at the Barnes & Noble on Valley River Drive, it’ll be about as high-brow as it’ll get for a long time.

But here’s the deal: I like my Lane County book tours, humble though they may be. Which is good, because this week I kick off promotion for two just-out books and a third that will be out in November.

By Christmas — Lord willing and the creek don’t rise — I will have talked to Lions, Rotarians, Kiwanians, college students, career folks, meat lovers, vegetarians, stock brokers, hippies, book clubs, reverends and renegades. I will have talked about backpacking and Bedford Falls and World War II to coasties, Eugene suburbanites, up-river retirees, Cottage Grove families and Harrisburg farmers.

Why? For two reasons. First, the months before Christmas are harvest time for authors, who know people will buy the bulk of their books in this time swath.

Second, I love meeting new people. Going places. Learning new things. Thursday night, for example, I met Suzanne Petersen, the 69-year-old daughter of one of my heroes: Bertha Holt, the Creswell farm wife who, back in the ‘50s, saw the need for Americans to adopt Korean orphans after the war. But that was illegal. Fine, Holt and husband Harry battled to change Congress’ mind on the matter, then began Holt International.

One of the biggest problems with journalism is that too many of us do it from sitting on our behinds in air-conditioned offices.

In a small way, a “book tour” — even my small book tour — brings me in touch with people who might read my column but who I might otherwise never see.

Talk about diversity: Wednesday I was on a country music station whose segue into my two-minute interview was something about a woman in Florida arrested for riding a manatee; taped a segment on 52 Little Lessons from it’s a Wonderful Life for “Focus on the Family”; spoke at a Eugene Lions luncheon; and ended the day eating an organic-oriented meal as part of a fundraiser I spoke at for Friends of Buford park & Mt. Pisgah.

No, I’m not living the life of John Grisham or Cheryl Strayed. It’s way better than that.

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