Bobbie Ann Mason at Union Avenue Books

Bobbie Ann Mason at Union Avenue Books, Knoxville

Bobbie Ann Mason’s recent visit to Union Avenue Books marked a major coup for the store. A nationally and internationally recognized author, Ms. Mason can do as she pleases and the fact that it pleases her to support small independent book stores pleases me greatly.

Bobbie Ann Mason introducing the book The Girl in the Blue Beret

I actually first met her at Davis Kidd Book Store off Cedar Bluff between ten and fifteen years ago. She was already well known for her books including In Country. She was a delight to speak to, very attentive and patient with all the incoherent babbling and slight, if not imagined, connections presented to her by excited fans. I ran into her a number of times afterward at book festivals in Nashville and Chattanooga and she was always the same kind, soft spoken person she had been on the first meeting.

My most memorable encounter with her came in Cincinnati sometime in the mid-nineties at a Bob Dylan concert. I didn’t speak to her that day, but watched a young man approach her. He obviously was working her for something: money, a ticket to the show, or maybe offering her a chemical enhancement to the experience. In any case, she extricated herself at the first opportunity and I didn’t see the good in disrupting her any further, so I let her pass.

Bobbie Ann Mason reads from her new book to a packed Union Ave. Books

She told me the story of that day when we spoke at Union Avenue Books the other night. She actually met Bob Dylan thanks to a mutual friend who made the arrangements. I’ll leave the details to her, but I will say that she found Mr. Dylan warm and respectful. Those of us who have seen “Don’t Look Back,” understand what a relief that might be.

Bobbie Ann Mason signing her new book at Union Ave. Books

She is currently touring in support of her latest book, The Girl in the Blue Beret, from which she read a few excerpts. The story involves an aviator who was shot down in France during World War II and is now, many years later, returning to the scene of that experience. As he meets the people from the French Resistance who facilitated his escape, he learns of the great suffering they endured. He searches for and finds a particular person, the girl in the blue beret, who helped him on his first journey and now will help him on this later journey to find resolution and peace with that harrowing and painful period in his life. It is told with all the power and honesty her readers have come to expect from her work.

After the reading Ms. Mason, as graciously as was the case all those years ago, spoke to everyone and signed everything that was put in front of her until there was no one left wanting her time. It was a great evening with an important author, but more particularly, a wonderful human being.

Ms. Mason sharing a laugh with a local fan at Union Avenue Books

If you’d like a copy of this book, please buy it from Union Avenue Books. They have autographed copies and would be happy to allow you to make one your very own. If you can’t make it to the book store, follow the link above a few pennies of your purchase will make their way back to yours truly. Keep a watch out for future author events at the book store. I’ve never been to one that wasn’t interesting and often I find them fascinating.

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