Benefit of living in the Boston area is that authors come to read from their books. Usually, at the start of a month, I make a list of the authors coming to town who I’d like to see, and if I’m lucky, I’ll make one or two events (pre-kids, I’d usually get to all of the events I wanted to see, and then some). But last week, I managed to take in four author readings across three days.
Junot Diaz, at least at our event, shook everyone’s hand, introduced himself (“Hi, I’m Junot. Who are you?”), and laughed off any chance of something similar to the near-riot at one of his New York readings happening in Boston. He’s touring behind his just-out collection, This Is How You Lose Her, which follows his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
Zadie Smith, in town to read from and discuss her just-out novel, NW, appeared at a local library, which warned that its first-come-first-served seat policy would not be bent. And it wasn’t, though, after one room that seated 300 filled, a second room was set up (in which you could watch, on a television screen, what Zadie was doing in the room next door). My favorite moment from the event? When asked about the anthology she edited several years ago, The Book of Other People, Zadie said that the hardest part was getting people to submit to the anthology for free, which meant asking her friends, because who else, she said, could she ask to write for free? Second-favorite moment? Her admission that a short story takes her at least six months to write.
Maggie Stiefvater, in town to read Raven Boys (if you know her, you probably know her popular, Scorpio Races). True story: While I was in Richmond, I wandered into Fountain Bookstore, an independent bookstore, and missed Maggie by a few minutes. She lives outside of Richmond, and according to the owner of Fountain, considers that store her “home store,” since, before she was known, Fountain let her come and read when other stores didn’t. The copies of Raven Boys sold by Fountain are the only copies in which you will find a special raven doodle and bookplate.
Rounding out the week was Libba Bray (Beauty Queens, Going Bovine), who read from The Diviners, the first in a planned four-book series. At these events of authors whose books are marketed primarily to young adults, I feel a bit out of place, unless I bring along one or both kids (which comes with its own set of problems). But only at an event for young adults are you going to get questions like: “Did you decide to write books for young adults instead of for grown-ups?” (When was the last time an adult referred to another adult as a grown up?) Libba’s favorite YA book, Rat Saw God, which is also the book that inspired her to try her hand at writing YA. As for why YA, “There is so much that is possible,” Libba said. “You are so possible in that moment.”