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Feature Mon May 10 2010

Answers and Questions: Billy Lombardo

Answers and Questions is a new biweekly column that asks Chicago writers to remember the funniest or strangest things they've been asked in a question-and-answer session, during a talk, or in an interview.

Billy Lombardo

Author of Chicago Tribune Best Fiction of 2005 selection The Logic of a Rose: Chicago Stories Billy Lombardo recalls a question that he didn't quite know how to answer:

The one that comes to mind often -- every time someone buys a book from me, in fact -- is something a woman said after buying a book from me at the Green Mill. She paid for the book, tucked it under her arm, and stood there silently and awkwardly while looking at me.

I asked her if she'd like me to sign it for her, and she paused and gathered the muscles of her face in at her nose and tucked the book deeper under her arm and said, "Why don't we wait on that."

I told her that I didn't know what that meant.

Now nearing the end of a radio tour for his most recent book, The Man with Two Arms, a novel about a baseball-obsessed father who realizes early that his son is ambidextrous, Lombardo traveled via radio waves to Cincinnati, OH; Charleston, WV; and Billings, MT, among other cities. He also shares a question from a (probably very busy) Colorado morning-radio host:

"I called into a studio to talk on air with some host in Colorado, and he said, 'OK, what are we talking about with you today?'"

In case you're wondering, the interview wasn't bad, says Lombardo. "When radio guys approach it with that kind of wing-it swaggery, they can usually wing it pretty good."

Here's a link to an April 29 interview on Sarasota, FL, radio station WSLR-FM. Lombardo's tour concludes with a 15-minute interview on May 17, 10:05am, on WJBC-AM (Bloomington, IL).

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Brandie Madrid / May 11, 2010 4:49 PM


That was me.

(Nick Prince made fun of me for saying that to you.)

What I meant by my comment was that I wanted to ask you to sign after I'd read it so I could tell you how much I loved the book and that I wanted you to sign my favorite part. It feels so impersonal to have someone sign a book I've never read. It makes me sad to find signed books in thrift stores. Not that I was afraid that would happen to your book. I had seen you read before and each time I felt like a kid being read a story that a thousand other kids had heard before, but for some reason this story really belonged to me. Besides, I know I'll get another chance to ask you. I know how you love this town, Chicago.

billy lombardo / August 17, 2012 10:10 PM

hey, brandie-

just found this response from you. a very nice one. hope to see you around town again. bring that book with you.


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