Monday, April 4, 2011

Three nice things

1. The winner of my "Fool for Books" giveaway was Aydrea. Thanks to everyone who participated, because your comments increased my library donation!

2. I'm in the middle of a book that I LOVE, and it's so good that I'm a little bit scared the second half won't measure up. Please, book, don't let me down! If the rest of this book is as good as the beginning, I will definitely be blogging about it.

But this reminds me why I usually enjoy the second read of a book more than the first. During the first read, I'm too busy worrying about what's going to happen next. Will the writer fall into predictable cliches? Will she bump off my favorite character? Will she reward the insufferably smug character whom I hate? Will the character I love so far turn out to be an unpardonable jerk? Will I be right about who committed the murder and who is the main character's bio father and what Character B's guilty secret is?

It's exhausting, I tell you.

3. I went to a reading by David Sedaris last night. It always does my heart good to see the size of the venues this guy reads at--ticket-selling venues, no less--and the length of the lines to get books signed. This is a writer who draws concert-size crowds. Okay, he's not your average writer, what with the NY Times List and the appearances on NPR, but STILL. Here's a writer who doesn't pull big crowds because he was a celebrity first. He became a celebrity because of his writing. (And, to be frank, his delivery of that writing.)

I've seen him read three times now, and every time I'm struck by a few things. The first is that, no matter how grueling the tour, he always looks happy to be there, happy to see the audience. He doesn't act tired or put upon. He's a truly welcoming performer. That may be because he tries to have fun with the aspects of a tour that could otherwise be exhausting: for example, he asks people in the signing line if they've heard any good jokes.

Another thing that always strikes me is the fact that he recommends other people's books every time he reads. Last night it was Tobias Wolff's The Barracks Thief.

He also ends every reading with a Q&A, giving the audience a chance to speak.

The common thread here is that he comes to an event with the expectation of entertaining. While preserving a certain professionalism--he acknowledges that even when his essays are autobiographical, he is still a "character" in them rather than his literal, real-life self--he shows up ready to give.


  1. Sounds like an awesome book tour! I like the idea of being ready to entertain. I think it's a reasonable expectation, if someone is coming to see you. Be personable and outgoing. I kind of like the idea of having a public writing persona, maybe dressing a little different and kind of stepping into a role.

  2. Yes, Alexia! It reminds me that Nikki Giovanni says if you expect people to leave their comfortable homes to come out and hear you, you should give them something extra.