Thursday, November 7, 2013

Aimée + I Meet Again

Thanksgiving weekend, 2009. A whirlwind visit to Davis. My mother gave me an article she clipped from the newspaper about a new Aimée Crocker book. Aimée's memoir was long out-of-print and ridiculously expensive. To my dismay, the new book wasn't available at The Avid Reader or any of my friendly Davis bookstores. Riki, who has been humoring me since high school, kindly agreed to drive me to The Crocker Art Museum Book Store (kinda) on the way to the airport to catch my flight back to LA.
I remember the moment I first saw the book.
Aimée Crocker's Refined Vaudeville, by K.M. Taylor & Aimée Crocker. It was hardback & gorgeous, I was terrified to turn it over to see the price. After flipping through and sizing it up, I mentally prepared to pay $60 for the book. I'm not on an heiress' budget but I could tell this was a book I'd keep forever, totally worth whatever the sticker said. I was delighted when I looked at the price, I think it was $26.95. One recently laid-off school teacher did a happy dance! I looked closer to make sure there wasn't a "1" in front of the 26. True story! I carried the book as delicately as if Aimée herself had hand-written it. Precious ephemera.
Back Cover
The short flight to LA was spent trying not to read ACRV. My plan was to read it in a few days, on a midday flight to New York. That was before I realized it was practically a coffee table book, completely wrong for jet setting. I also realized what Aimée's name in the writer's credits meant--portions of And I'd Do It Again were reproduced within the text. Someone had written my dream book! I had to take it to New York! Onto the plane we went . . . 
I'm a sucker for a great intro
Poor bastard passenger to my right. So slick and cool, reading on his kindle, my coffee table elbows bobbing up and down as I talked to my book, gently turned its pages, gasped, laughed, and I may have clapped. A few times. 

Okay, there's no point in playing it cool about how much I loved this book. The sun had just set when I landed at JFK. I read by the light of my phone in the cab. For the record, I'm not usually a car reader, I'm a window gazer AND this was only my second trip to New York. I finished the last few pages in the hotel before drifting to sleep in LA boyfriend's hotel room. Boyfriend was working late at the office, the new company he worked for was days from launching. The employees were basically working around the clock, sometimes getting as much as 3 hours of sleep at night. It was hectic, but it left me with a lot of free time to wander Central Park, shop at sample sales in Soho, and ponder the wonderful book I had just read. New York's charm exploded once I knew which streets and neighborhoods Aimée lit up a century ago.
My first glimpse of news clippings about Aimée
I was so impressed with ACRV that I emailed the publisher and asked them to forward my congratulations to the author. I don't normally write to writers but I couldn't contain my excitement. The book lit up my soul. Aimée's familiar words and mysterious stories were illuminated, presenting a much grander view into the heiress' life. The author's thorough research, photos, newspaper articles, and clever wit dazzled me. 
Taylor wrote back right away. Kevin Taylor, author. The book was self-published! We struck up an email conversation and quickly discovered we both lived in LA. All of my friends from the Old City Cemetery in Sacramento knew about Aimée Crocker, and all of them were cute little retired people. I looked forward to meeting the little old man who wrote the book about Aimée.


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