Guns, Sex Pots, and Falling Trees: A Day at the Kerrytown BookFest

A tree fell on a car at the Kerrytown BookFest.

I’m going to lead with the tree, since that’s probably the most conventionally thrilling thing that happened at Kerrytown BookFest 2014 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The BookFest, for those not in the know (i.e. anyone outside Southeast Michigan and/or in possession of a sex life that doesn’t involve sniffing old paper), is an annual event celebrating books and readers. In the words of its organizers, it features

authors, storytellers, publishers bookbinders, book artists, book illustrators, poets, letterpress printers, wood engravers, calligraphers, papermakers, librarians, teachers, publishers, new, used, and antiquarian booksellers and many others associated with books and their diverse forms, structure, and content.

So it’s Heaven, basically. Apart from the falling trees.

I want to make it clear that this tree fell on this Jeep in the middle of a sunny, windless afternoon. I talked to the woman on whose property the tree had fallen and found her surprisingly laid-back about the whole thing.

“Ah, well,” she said. “Hopefully insurance will cover it.”

Gosh, I thought. She’s taking this rather well.

Come to find out it wasn’t actually her Jeep; someone had just parked it in front of her house. Imagine the noise that person made when they returned from the BookFest to find their car playing not-so-Power Bottom to an oak! Truly, it must have been the Sound of Ultimate Suffering.

Anyway, now that we’ve got the tree out of the way, let’s delve into some of the things I saw in Kerrytown.

The Hound of the Baskervilles, first edition

 This book, which I spent a full ten minutes salivating over, is a first edition of The Hound of the Baskervilles. I know it’s a first edition, because it says so inside. Here’s what else it says:

First edition, $75.00

Ouch. I take back what I said earlier. The sound of ultimate suffering is the noise my wallet made when I tried to make it fart out enough cash to buy this book.

In need of some cheering up after my run-in with the cruelty of fiscal reality, I turned to the Friar’s Club and their tried and true comedy stylings.

The Friar's Club Encyclopedia of Jokes.

An entire encyclopedia of jokes! Concentrated funny on every page! Here was the balm I needed for life’s vicissitudes. Opening to a random page, I spied this rib-tickler.

A hilarious joke about dog balls.


I mean, I’d probably giggle if Robin Williams or somebody told it. But I’m a bit hung-up on the friend’s strange knowledge of proper interspecies foreplay. Is it supposed to sound like the friend, in addition to misunderstanding the first man’s intentions, licks dog balls on the daily? Because that’s like, a joke on top of a joke. It’s almost too much for me to take in at once. The Friar’s Club is blowing my mind harder than these two hypothetical men blow dogs!

Less depressed but infinitely more pensive, I turned to an adjacent shelve. This section contained a number of popular genres: Western, Science Fiction, Romance, and everybody’s favorite…

The "Guns" section.

 And what’s violence without a little sex? Right beneath the “Guns” section, I found this tasty little treat.

Sex Pots: Eroticism in Ceramics

If your pants are feeling a little tight right now, you haven’t been overeating. You’ve simply spent too long luxuriating in titillating pottery. Let’s face it–everything’s hotter when it’s done in terracotta.

On the opposite side of the festival, there was another used books stall, this one boasting the rock bottom prices of $4.00 per hardcover book and $2.00 per paperback. Because this stall was right next to Aut Bar (an Ann Arbor gay bar) the stock was comprised chiefly of gay and lesbian romance novels. And also a Prairie Home Companion DVD, because what’s life without mysteries to ponder.

A Prairie Home Companion DVD

Is Garrison Keillor big in the LGBT community? Is Garrison Keillor big outside the 60-year-old-white-people-in-bad-shorts community??

 And hey, any takers for this gently-used VHS copy of Life of Brian?

The Life of Brian on VHS

I honestly think this is the first time I’ve realized there is no The in front of Life of Brian. My life has been such a lie.

Finally, I decided to stop faffing about (thanks for the hip new slang term, Doctor Who) and actually buy something. One of the stalls was hosting a guest-author called Michael Robertson. He writes a series of mystery novels called The Baker Street Letters about two modern-day brothers who wind up living at 221B Baker Street and start receiving letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes. (Based on a real thing that happened, by the way–the bank that opened at the previously non-existent 221 Baker Street in the 1930’s had to assign someone to answer all the letters they received for Sherlock Holmes. Many of them were from children, some of them containing very serious subject matter indeed).

The Baker Street Letters, by Michael Robertson.

Needless to say, I was over-the-moon about the chance to nerd out with a fellow Sherlockian. Especially when he remarked that “most people’s favorite is that BBC series with Cumberbatch” and that Cumberbatch was really good.

Sherlock sighing.

Oh, none of that, Sherlock. ACCEPT MY LOVE, DAMN IT. (from

What a fabulous way to end the day. On balance, my trip to the Kerrytown BookFest was fun and productive–falling trees and all.


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