a prize and a celebrity sighting

June 1st, 2007 | Travels and Appearances


I didn’t take my camera along to the Lambda Book Awards last night because to do so would have meant either schlepping my giant shoulder bag or ruining the lines of my suit. So I have no pictures of the festivities. But here I am this morning with my award–Fun Home won in the Lesbian Memoir/Biography category. I’m really happy about it, although I also have a bit of a migraine, which accounts for my bleary expression.

The awards ceremony last night was really fun. I met a million people. Kate Clinton emceed. I got to present a Pioneer Award to Marijane Meaker, author of a zillion books, from lesbian pulp novels in the fifties, to groundbreaking young adult books like Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack! to her amazing memoir Highsmith, A Romance of the 1950’s, which is about her relationship with Patricia Highsmith. She just turned 80. She was very charming to me, and called me a dyke to watch out for.

The indefatigable and delightful Charles Flowers, director of the Lambda Literary Foundation, kept the evening moving apace. I was very gratified to receive my memoir award from the hands of Alison Smith, whose own memoir Name All the Animals won a Lammy in 2004. Sarah Waters’ Night Watch won the lesbian fiction award. And if you want to see who won all the other stuff you can look…uh…there doesn’t seem to be anything online yet.

Hey, I just left my hotel room to get a cup of tea. The elevator door opened. I hate riding in elevators with other people. Those interminable seconds stuck in there cheek by jowl, with everyone avoiding eye contact and saying nothing–though it’s infinitely worse, of course, if someone does make eye contact or say something. So I always hope for an empty car. At first I thought this one was empty, then I realized there was a guy in the corner. Then I realized it was Stephen King. I did not make eye contact or say anything. Then the elevator stopped again and two more people got on carrying instrument cases, and Stephen (I call him Stephen) starts chatting with them.

So after a little googling, I found this article about a bunch of writers, including Stephen King, who play in a band together, and they’ll be performing today at Book Expo America. That’s this big publishing convention where I’m headed later. So maybe I’ll see them. I wonder who the other writers were, the ones with the instrument cases? I didn’t recognize them.

57 Responses to “a prize and a celebrity sighting”

  1. xckb13 says:


  2. Andi says:

    Greetings from Boulder, Alison! Cool sighting of the Rock Bottom Remainders (the best title for a band ever) and Mister Horror himself. I love the quote from the article about the “dubious talent” of the Remainders and their fundraising efforts; “We are just awful — but we are awful for a good cause.” And major congrats on your well deserved award for Fun Home! It’s such a lovely, literate and provocative book. I think I’ll go read it again….

  3. smctopia says:

    Didn’t Amy Tan used to play in a band with Stephen King?

  4. DW says:

    So, a celebrity sighting. Cool. The question is, did Mr King realise he had seen a celebrity

  5. DW says:

    Realize. I am so ashamed.

  6. little gator says:

    Dave Barry is also in the Remainders. I forget who else.

  7. Lori in NYC says:

    Congratulations on the award! It looks like that shirt is bringing you good things now!

  8. shadocat says:

    I saw the Rock Bottom Remainders about 3 years ago; someone told me Barbara Kingsolver and Tad Batimus were also in the band, but when I saw them, Amy Tan was the only woman perfoming. she was wearing some type of black leather, boker-chick kind of costume,and singing (I think) some Janis-Joplin stuff. she was hilarious!

  9. just a guy says:

    Love your expression in the picture, and am glad you chose to explain it. If you hadn’t said you were thrilled with the award, the pic wouldn’t be conveying that. Congratulations.

  10. shadocat says:

    oops! that was “biker chick”

  11. JenK says:

    The band lineup changes depending on who is available. Kathi Goldmark, Dave Barry, Amy Tan, Tad Bartimus, Barbara Kingsolver, Dave Marsh, Matt Groening, Ridley Pearson, Robert Fulghum, Greil Marcus, Joel Selvin, Mitch Albom….

    Mitch Albom, Ridley Pearson, Dave Barry, their wives and some “ringers” (drums & sax) played the Maui Writer’s Conference in 2000 as “The Cliff Notes”. Dave started the night off by pointing to the bar at the back of the room and telling us the band sounds MUCH better after a few drinks. He then pointed to the dance floor and reminded us that if we’re dancing we don’t have time to notice how bad the music is. Then they started playing “Twist and Shout” and I started dancing 🙂

  12. --MC says:

    Early mother of Gord, according to the site Roger McGuinn is sitting in with them this go round.

  13. Samia from Bangladesh says:

    Hi Alison. Congratulations on the success of your paperback tour readings of Fun Home and on winning the Lambada biography/memoir award. It has been months since I’ve read Fun Home yet the emotions I experienced then still reverberate in me whenever I think of the book.

    I share Andi’s feelings of wanting to read and savour Fun Home once again.

    I’m glad that you have taken decisions to make your life more manageable. I hope your new book is coming along well. 🙂

  14. sunicarus says:

    Thought this might be of interest here. Cheers!

    Lambda Literary Awards Announce Winners

    May 31, 2007, 11:00 PM–Winners for the 19th annual Lambda Literary Awards were announced tonight by the Lambda Literary Foundation at a gala celebration attended by 300 people.

    Awards were presented in 25 categories. Winners were chosen by a jury of judges who come from all walks of literary life: journalists, authors, booksellers, librarians, playwrights, illustrators. In all, 85 judges participated in the selection of winners from the pool of 381 books that were nominated by 147 publishers.

    In addition, Marijane Meaker and Martin Duberman were recognized for their lifetime achievements by receiving the Pioneer Award from Lambda Literary Foundation.

    One of the most moving episodes of the evening was an In Memoriam tribute, a 6 minute video recognizing eleven LGBT literary heroes who have passed away during the last 18 months, including Sarah Aldridge, Sybille Bedford, Betty Berzon, Tee Corinne, Hanns Ebensten, Aleta Fenceroy, Barbara Gittings, Sterling Houston, Dr. Fritz Klein, Art “Cassandra” Polansky, and Eric Rofes.

    Another highlight of the evening was a raffle of a “Fun Home” Triptych, created by Alison Bechdel and featuring artwork from her award-winning memoir, FUN HOME, also named TIME Magazine’s Book of the Year for 2006. All proceeds of the raffle benefited the Lambda Literary Foundation, the presenter of the Lambda Literary Awards.

    *Winner for ANTHOLOGY*

    /Love, Bourbon Street/, edited by Greg Herren & Paul J. Willis (Alyson)

    *Winner for ARTS & CULTURE*

    /GAY L.A./ by Lillian Faderman & Stuart Timmons (Basic Books)

    *Winner for BISEXUAL*

    /The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe/ by Nicole Kristal & Michael Szymanski (Alyson)

    *Winners for CHILDRENS/YOUNG ADULT (tie)*

    /Full Spectrum/, edited by David Levithan & Billy Merrell (Random House Children’s Books)
    /Between Mom & Jo/ by Julie Anne Peters (Little Brown)

    *Winner for DRAMA/THEATER*

    /1001 Beds/ by Tim Miller (University of Wisconsin)

    *Winner for HUMOR*

    /My Lucky Star/ by Joe Keenan (Little Brown)

    *Winners for LGBT NONFICTION (tie)*

    /GAY L.A./ by Lillian Faderman & Stuart Timmons (Basic Books)
    /Different Daughters/ by Marcia M. Gallo (Carroll & Graf)

    *Winner for LGBT STUDIES*

    /Their Own Receive Them Not/ by Horace L. Griffin (Pilgrim Press)

    *Winner for SCI-FI/FANTASY/HORROR*

    /Izzy and Eve/ by Neal Drinnan (Green Candy Press)

    *Winner for SPIRITUALITY*

    /The After-Death Room/ by Michael McColly (Soft Skull Press)

    *Winner for TRANSGENDER*

    /The Transgender Studies Reader/, edited by Susan Stryker & Stephen Whittle (Routledge)

    *Winner for LESBIAN FICTION*

    /The Night Watch/ by Sarah Waters (Riverhead Books)

    *Winner for LESBIAN ROMANCE*

    /Fresh Tracks/ by Georgia Beers (Bold Strokes)

    *Winner for LESBIAN MYSTERY*

    /The Art of Detection/ by Laurie R. King (Bantam)

    *Winner for LESBIAN POETRY*

    /Lemon Hound/ by Sina Queyras (Coach House Books)


    /Fun Home/ by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin)

    *Winner for LESBIAN EROTICA*

    /Walk Like a Man/ by Laurinda D. Brown (Q-Boro Books)


    /The Teahouse Fire/ by Ellis Avery (Riverhead)

    *Winner for GAY FICTION*

    /Suspension/ by Robert Westfield (HarperCollins)

    *Winner for GAY ROMANCE*

    /When the Stars Come Out/ by Rob Byrnes (Kensington)

    *Winner for GAY MYSTERY*

    /The Lucky Elephant Restaurant/ by Garry Ryan (NeWest Press)

    *Winner for GAY POETRY*

    /A History of My Tattoo/ by Jim Elledge (Stonewall)


    /The Bill From My Father/ by Bernard Cooper (Simon & Schuster)

    *Winner for GAY EROTICA*

    /A History of Barbed Wire/ by Jeff Mann (Suspect Thoughts)

    *Winner for GAY DEBUT FICTION*

    /Suspension/ by Robert Westfield (HarperCollins)

    For more information, visit http://www.lambdaliterary.org and/or contact asklambda@xxxxxxxxxxxxx .

  15. C.C. says:

    Cograts on the award, I hope you are feeling better soon!

  16. Sara says:

    I’m pretty sure the elevator thing is an utterly introverted trait – extroverts probably have a very different view of elevator rides.

    Love the Marijane Meaker story.

  17. reed_maker says:

    Congrats Alison!

    My most recent celebrity sighting was Cyndi Lauper–she looked very unusual!

    Alison, next time you are in NYC, please come hang out in Brooklyn. It’s much much cooler than the upper west side.

  18. Nan says:

    Oh my gosh, M.E. Kerr! Loved her YA books–still do, actually. I’ll Love You When You’re More Like Me; If I Love You, Am I Trapped Forever?; Love Is a Missing Person. Wonderful, uncondescending young adult novels. So happy to hear that she was honored at the Lambda Awards. And delighted for you, AB!

  19. kate says:

    you are THE dyke to watch out for–congrats! you really should consider getting a casio exilim camera (ex-z50)–they’re tiny and take pretty good pics.

    stephen king? wow! but i think it might have spooked me a bit (or at least felt quite surreal) to get on an elevator with only stephen king. actually, i hear he is super-friendly–maybe you’ll introduce yourself the next time.

  20. Donut Rooter says:

    Congrats! 🙂

  21. Lydia says:

    Congrats, Alison! You should join the band. You could take up the vibraslap.

  22. van says:

    LOL at your expression, “Yeah, I know, another one, right?”;)

    Congrats, AB!

  23. Auntie Em says:

    Maybe play the Theramin. Think Beach Boys Good Vibrations. Stephen and Allison arrive at the 13th floor…
    Congrats on the award!!

  24. Alex K says:

    This extrovert likes elevator / lift rides.

    My parents enjoyed keeping silence during trips in filled lift cars – only as the doors opened for one to turn to the other and ask, worriedly, as they both stepped out, “So what did you do with all the blood?”

    They also enjoyed voting Socialist Worker and then speculating (again worriedly) at the town post office / feed store (this was well before coffee shops), along with everyone else, on which of the persons just moved in From Away were most suspect in general or in particular, and might have cast those two votes.

    The most fun to be had in lifts (clothes on), however, can be had, if one is an extrovert, by engaging an introvert in conversation…

    Now keep that award dusted!

  25. smutti says:

    Didn’t Stephen King once write a book about the evil consequences of making eye contact in an elevator? I think it was called Cujo… or maybe I didn’t read that closely enough.

  26. Deena in OR says:

    Laurie R. King…my *second* favorite author! (grin) Her Mary Russell series is great.

  27. Joe Code says:

    My question is do you call him Steven or Stephen? (My wife and I are having an discussion about that one line.)

  28. Anonymous says:

    congrats ! that is very exciting !

  29. Ann S. in Madison says:

    A hearty WHOOP! and huge WHOO-HOOO!!! Well done, gal. You make me proud.

  30. Feminista says:

    Congrats,AB,and hooray for the Rock Bottom Remainders. Amy Tan wrote an essay about this motley crew,and how fun it was for them to be the cool kids for once; nearly all had been bookish and shy as kids and young people(except for Matt Groening,who spent his school hours doodling and thinking up pranks). Barbara Kingsolver has played with them as well.

  31. Danyell says:

    Yay! I’m so proud of you!

  32. lester says:

    rickie lee jones hardly ever smiled professionally, either. but i’m guessing partly because she was an alcoholic living with tom waits at the time of her aggressive popularity…. so what’s your excuse, beautiful buttercup?

  33. Ginjoint says:


  34. Duncan says:

    Geez, Feminista, who’d want to be one of the cool kids? You don’t have to be cool to make music or have fun.

    I was shy and bookish and a kid and young person too. But I had a good time anyway, because reading and writing is more interesting than watching TV or being a Homecoming Queen/King. I grew out of my shyness without, I hope, becoming cool, when I discovered that I could have friends who respected me, and whom I respected, without having to climb over the bodies of other people to get to the top of the heap. I’m not saying Amy Tan did this, only that it’s such a drag when people are still, in middle age, agonizing because they weren’t Muffies or Biffs. There’s a lot of cliquishness among queerfolk too, and I do now pretty much what I did as a kid: I ignore it. Except that now I slap it down too, when some queen tries to exclude other people.

    See the movie Heathers sometime, if you haven’t already. If you have, see it again. It’s *the* great statement about being one of the cool people, and to my mind one of the best movies ever made.

    “I mean, Heather, why can’t we talk to different people?”
    “Fuck me gently with a chainsaw — do I look like Mother Teresa? If I did, I probably wouldn’t mind talking to the geek squad!”
    “Does it not bother you that everyone in this school thinks you’re a piranha?”
    “I could give a shit. They all want me as a friend or a fuck! I’m worshipped, Buster Burke — and I’m only a junior.”

  35. cyd says:

    Most likely as they all left the elevator, the Rock Bottom Remainders were all whispering to each other, “Do you realize who that was!? I can’t believe we were in an elevator with Alison Bechdel and didn’t introduce ourselves.”

  36. Aunt Soozie says:

    Dear Alison,
    Congratulations on the well deserved award!

    I’m not one to toot my own horn but sometimes we shy ones have that raw edge too. Hence you growing into a slapper down of insolent queens. I detest being the center of attention, it’s so embarrassing and yet I also long to share my ,uhm, talents. However, I would never climb over bodies to get there, I mean, not aggressively anyway, only if it was some sort of loving game. (I climb over you, you climb over her, she climbs over me and we all meet in the middle…tra-la!…high five!!)

    If you happen to check out Barry’s dependable erection blog you’ll see who won the Beaver Pageant last night. Of course all of the participants had Beaver pseudonyms so if, for example, I, your Aunt Soozie, was in actuality a Beaver known as Yogi who happened to be named the 2007 Beaver Queen you’d never know it.

  37. Feminista says:

    Now Duncan,don’t get your knickers in a knot.I don’t think any of these literati are still hung up on the past. Amy Tan related how much fun it was to be,briefly,out of character when she performed with the band. She was raised to be a “good Chinese girl” in 50s and 60s San Francisco,which meant excelling in everything,from piano to academics,while dealing with her mother’s literal and figurative ghosts of the ancestors. She loved her linguistic studies at Berkeley.

    Kingsolver grew up in rural Kentucky,where her parents’ liberal,intellectual,scientific views put her at odds with nearly all her classmates; she couldn’t wait to escape to college. From what I’ve read,she’s comfortable with her life and work now,dividing her time between Kentucky and Tucson,AZ.

    Matt Groening,who grew up here in Portland,OR,embraced his weirdness as a young person and thrived at Evergreen State College in Olympia,WA,a politically progressive school with an innovative curriculum.

    I don’t thik I’d enjoy the film Heathers.

  38. Tera says:

    Congrats!!! You deserve it!

  39. jay in chicago says:

    M.E. Kerr. I emailed her once and told her that I wasn’t sure I would survived adolescence without her lovely YA books.

  40. Rick says:


    Not a big fan of elevators myself. Well, not a big fan of feeling as if I should talk [or may be–eek–spoken to] to people inside an elevator. I do enjoy, however, listening to their conversations and watching their avoidance [or non-avoidance, as the case might be] of each other. I would’ve loved to ride with your parents, Alex K.

  41. Elke says:


  42. Ellen Orleans says:

    I don’t know if this link will work if you are not a subscriber, but the New York Times had an article on the Rock Bottom Remainders today.


    Alison will be reading in Denver tomorrow (Tuesday) at the Tattered Cover in LoDo. 7:30pm 1628 16th St.

    See you there?

  43. louise says:

    Miss Soozie, congratulations to Yogi Beaver! The pictures were a hoot.
    I thought of you this weekend during an irreverent ceremony of my own. After taking the scenic route through higher education I have finally graduated from The City College of New York- here are some fun facts about my alma mater:
    Official school color/anthem since 1866: “Lavender, my Lavender”.
    School mascot: The Beavers
    In other words I am the owner of one of the best alumni t-shirts known to womankind.

  44. louise says:

    Oh, and, like, congratulations to Alison! =D

  45. Lynn says:

    here’s an article with some accompanying pics, including one of alison b. and alison smith!


  46. Olivier says:

    I love your “bleary expression”, Alison: you look like some Buddha!

  47. Deb says:

    Congrats again Alison!

  48. Ehrrin says:

    My most recent celebrity encounter was with Alison. And, it went great! I totally did not make an ass of myself by trying to be funny and hitting on her and sweating and getting hives and turning a deep shade of red!

  49. shadocat says:

    Have any of y’all heard about this?


    If they could really do it, I would so move there (even if it ia too cold, IMO),,,,

  50. Dr. Empirical says:

    Congratulations to Yogi Beaver!

    (Whoever she is)

  51. Jaibe says:

    I knew about that band from the Matt Groening’s wikipedia page. but I don’t think I’d recognize any of those guys in an elevator…

  52. Jaibe says:

    PS I’m surprised Stephen King didn’t recognize you!

  53. Sarah C. says:

    Jaibe, I’m surprised as well. But I would bet that he has read “Fun Home.”

    His immediate family is literary — his wife, Tabitha King, and two of their three children are writers. And if one of them didn’t run across “Fun Home,” perhaps his daughter, Unitarian minister Naomi King, and her partner tipped him off to it.

    (Forgive me for getting all “Us” magazine on you all. I’ve lived in Maine since I was 4, and I’ve absorbed autobiographical info about the King family almost by osmosis.)

    Not to mention that he and Alison could discuss what it’s like to be the target of book banners. His books are among the most frequently challenged in U.S. schools and libraries, according to the American Library Association.

    Stephen and Tabitha King run a foundation that has given beaucoup bucks to hospitals and libraries (especially in underserved rural parts of Maine). They’re proud liberals. They speak up for freedom of speech and against Bush. With all the nutty right-wing rich guys and their spawn out there, it’s nice to have at least one bazillionaire family around who put their earnings to good use.

  54. Jaibe says:

    Wow Sarah C.! I bet he thought Alison was snubbing him rather than just shy, because he’s not sufficiently arty! Maybe he was embarassed he didn’t catch all the literary references in Fun Home & was afraid to talk to her. Maybe his next book will be a radical blow for homosexual rights or some other liberal cause.

  55. Sarah C. says:

    That made me laugh, Jaibe! He was probably thinking, “Damn! The only Joyce I ever read was ‘Dubliners’! I’ve been meaning to read ‘Ulysses,’ but I just never got around to it. Maybe this summer …”

    P.S. Just remembered this — the Kings live in Maine’s second-largest “city,” Bangor, in an old mansion that reminds me of AB’s childhood home. They had a public Halloween party there every year until some stalker types made the experience less pleasurable for the hosts.

    Still, friends who’ve lived in Bangor say the Kings are pretty low-maintenance. Nobody bugs them when they walk downtown for coffee. It must be hard to reach that balance between having privacy and having a place in the community.

  56. katchup says:

    aunt soozie,

    i dare say your own celebrity is on the rise. you will have a very busy beaver year ahead with the many public appearances Beaver Lodge Local 1504 has scheduled for you.

    is it time for aunt soozie to branch out and start a blog of of her own as Beaver Queen?

    as we say in the virtual wetlands “don’t hog the blog.” 🙂

    peace, love, beaver

  57. Aunt Soozie says:

    My Dear Katchup,

    The people (and Beavers) do have expectations of Royalty and in the spirit of World Peace I’ll try to comply with their wishes. It is my firm belief that connection with their beloved Queen is the ultimate balm in this troubled world. Therefore,if my loyal subjects insist on having more of me…I’ll acquiesce.
    (either that or if Alison invokes the wetlands motto you posted above and kicks my ass outta here..you know, either way I could end up with a blog of my own…but, not yet…)