The Author-Photo Curator

Spokane, Washington

Joe Collins doesn’t buy books. Nor does he have time to read them. But he goes to more author readings in a year—usually at Auntie’s Bookstore in his hometown of Spokane, Washington—than many people do in a lifetime. The famous and the never-heard-ofs—his is a non-discrimination policy.

“I’ve been there when there’s only me,” he says. “I show up. I’d feel terrible if nobody came.”

In fact, he does more than show up. At the end of a reading, Joe politely asks permission to snap a photo of the author. Maybe it’s his demeanor—he’s a stocky eighty-year-old with graying hair and an oversize parka, the type of guy you might see riding a city bus or eating a plate of eggs in a diner—but in ten years, no one has turned him down. He poses his subjects with care, tilting the author’s chin just so, making certain that a thumb isn’t covering the book’s title, that the entire cover is visible through his camera lens, that the lighting is sufficient. Then he takes two or three quick snaps of the author, using his trusty, slightly dinged-up Instamatic.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

—Mary Guterson

Mary Guterson is the author of We Are All Fine Here (Putnam, January 2005). She is currently at work on her second novel.

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