I understand that J.K. Rowling is the big ticket in the book world these days but why should she and her fans have all the midnight book release fun? A couple of months ago, while still basking in the afterglow of this summer's Harry Potter party, I was chatting with the store manager about whether the midnight party option would ever be feasible (or worth doing) again. I mean, it's going to be hard to ever top the feelings of a Potter bash — all the happy kids, music, costumes, and, let's face it, full cash registers, make those events hard to beat. We should count ourselves lucky to have an actual literary phenomenon in our lifetime. One with children, no less. And we all know that children are our future. But if children are the future, then what is now?
Enter Stephen Colbert and his "Colbert Nation."
So we're throwing a party.
But this time we're trading in the wizard wands for bottles of beer, ditching fantasy for terrible (hilarious?) reality, and popping all those cheery balloons in favor of — well, okay, there will still be balloons, but this time only red, white, and blue ones! And there will be a life-size cardboard cutout of Stephen for you to get your photo taken with the man himself. I've tested this on a cell phone camera myself and it looks real enough to fool your friends and family. Monday night is the night. I know it's a weird night for a party, but that's the way it is. Grown-ups release their books traditionally on Tuesdays, and midnight Monday night counts as Tuesday. So there.
Imagine your pride and the envy of others if you are seen reading Colbert's bound-for-classic status, I Am America (And So Can You!) early in the AM (before 9:00!) on Tuesday morning (at work, on the bus, at the neighborhood cafÃ©, herever). People may approach you and say, "Wow, I haven't seen that book yet." And you will scoff and say, "I'm already halfway through. You, my fellow patriot, will have to wait until 9am to get your copy. By that time I will already be on Stephen's chapter on parenting. I find myself becoming a better American with each page — and I'm still on my first cup of coffee!" You will also impress them with your I Am America button and bumper sticker, obtained freely at the party.
But wait! There's more! I just received word that local comic publisher Oni Press has just released the first of Stephen's much talked about comic, Tek Jansen, the illustrated adventures of our hero (who has a striking similarity to Stephen himself, but with a muscle-bulging superhero suit) as he battles "the enemies of freedom." They'll be on hand at the party as well and will be selling comics and giving away prizes.
When I came up with the idea for this party a number of things seemed to work out serendipitously for an entertaining evening. First off, the timing is a perfect match. Blitz, a nice new bar across the street from us (I've been there a few times and their food is cheap and good — a refreshing change from other bars around here), has a bevy of flat screen TVs, which will be tuned to Jon Stewart at 11:00 (serving as the opening act) and then Colbert from 11:30-12am. Until the clock strikes twelve for the unveiling, I'm thinking of covering the cart of books with an American flag to avoid illegal gawking and possible embargo-breaking "browsing." There will be some drinking games leading up to this consumer event. I thought a good one would be to make everyone take a swig each time Colbert says the word "America." I'm not sure if Stephen knows of this game we'll be playing, but nonetheless I imagine people should be plowed before the credits roll. My Powell's cohorts and I (dressed in our best conservative attire) will sadly have to abstain from alcohol, at least until we get the books and cash register locked away. Then it'll be time for a "Truthiness Tequila." I imagine taxi drivers will have a better Monday than usual.
So that's the deal, America (Portland). Join us on Monday night. Who knows when we'll be able to do another midnight release party. Who else has Colbert's star power? Gaiman? Palahniuk? Cormac McCarthy?! Don't make me laugh.
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Kevin Sampsell runs the small press section at Powell's and is the publisher of his own micro-press, Future Tense Books. His books include Creamy Bullets, Portland Noir, and the memoir A Common Pornography.
Books mentioned in this post
Kevin Sampsell is the author of A Common Pornography: A Memoir