I’ve shared some pretty intense moments with some pretty spectacular authors. Not that they were aware of it. At the Brooklyn Book Fest a few years ago, I teared up along with Jonathan Franzen as he spoke of his recently departed friend, David Foster Wallace. At McNally-Jackson, I hid a smile when Mary Gaitskill shot off a particularly withering retort to a clueless interviewer who asked why all her characters had “such bad sex.” And I laughed aloud at a NYU panel when Rick Moody moaned, “I’m gonna throw up” after seeing a short video that included him chowing down at a barbecue.
The great thing about author readings is that you gain insight into a person whose mind you’ve directly connected with on the page. I don’t know which is better: leaving a reading chortling “He is so PERFECT” or “Whoa, did NOT expect her to be like that.” Some might argue that checking out the person behind the words might weaken a reader’s pure experience with the books. But for me at least, readings only inspire more reading. Most importantly, these events are so consistently thought-provoking that I always leave with new ideas and perspectives spinning around my head. And, of course, the urge to go home, sit down and effing write my own stuff.
NYC offers a ridiculous number of (mostly free) readings, which I often mark in Timeout or The New Yorker and then completely forget about. But this spring, I’m gonna jump in again, on at least a weekly basis, and document the experience—the awkward banter, the brilliant pearls of wisdom, and any particularly cringe-inducing audience questions.
Just a note that I’ll be doing this in a completely, unabashedly subjective way. So don’t, you know, take it seriously.
Alright. Let’s get our readings on.