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People and chairs and BEA

It's hard to say what "The Chairs Are Where the People Go: How to Live, Work, and Play in the City" is about exactly. And that's a good thing.

One of the most interesting presentations at Book Expo America on Tuesday came from Canadian Misha Glouberman. He's the author of "The Chairs Are Where the People Go." He presented the simplest of ideas -- how to ask a good question -- and somehow managed to make the answers sound fresh, interesting, funny.

Is his book a manifesto? Business advice? Is it philosophy?

Glouberman is a facilitator and instructor. To put the book together, he spoke with his friend Sheila Heti, who transcribed his unorthodox ideas and helped shape them into "The Chairs Are Where the People Go."

In his presentation, Glouberman included lessons from his experience teaching people how to play charades. When asked how he got that job, Glouberman replied that it was sort of a mistake -- he advertised charades classes, the advertisement itself a kind of art project, and that to his surprise people replied. So he became a charades instructor -- perhaps the only charades instructor around.

That a book like Glouberman's -- intelligent, quirky, charming, hard to classify -- is being published by Faber & Faber is a sign of health in the publishing industry. It shows that there is a willingness to take risks -- and maybe even have some fun.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

 
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