If it wasn't obvious from his custom shirt, a crisp pearl-snap embroidered with the titular suitcase of his new release, Saturday was a big day for Austin's Brian Beattie. His "illustrated ear movie-musical," Ivy and the Wicker Suitcase, a five-year effort, had finally hit shelves. It was treated as such: 140 spectators formed a semicircle on the third floor of BookPeople, some recognizable musicians, many coffee-sipping book nerds, all with spawn in tow. In the back, a young mother hoisted a toddler on her shoulders to glimpse over the crowd. From behind a rack of bird books, God watched quietly. It was Bill Callahan, who plays said deity in Ivy. Beattie began with a seven-minute tongue-twister poem, before busting out the acoustic guitar to back his Glass Eye bandmate Kathy McCarty on "That No Account Cosmo Wire" and tween songbird Grace London on "Caliche Road." Yet it was the cranky show, an old-timey method of scrolling illustrations, drawn by local artist Valerie Fowler (Beattie's wife), that received a roaring applause. As copies of Ivy made their way to the register, Beattie made two promises: a national book tour in the spring and that "a sequel is already rolling around in my head."
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