I did go to see Karen Joy Fowler discuss her new book last night, and I am so glad I did. She was very witty and interesting, which is really no surprise, since I love her work. Also, I mentioned that the line between reality and fiction is blurry in Wit’s End–it is even blurrier than I realized, because the cult that she mentions in the book, along with a lot of the details of the cult founder and the place they lived, are actually true. Fascinating stuff. I also find cults very interesting (I did a research paper on mind control as practiced by cults for my high school Psychology class), so I totally understand how she could get caught up in that kind of research.
As far as I can remember, this is the first time I have been to a reading by an author that I know and like (or any author, for that matter). I am not big on talking to “celebrities” in general, because it seems weird to me to talk to people that seem like people you know, but that are, in fact, strangers. A co-worker was telling me about meeting some professional hockey players, recently, and going out to lunch with them, and I was frankly mystified as to why anyone would want to do that. Granted, I am not a hockey fan, but I would feel the same way about baseball players, or actors, or anyone whose work I admire and enjoy. They are strangers. You know you have one thing in common, sure (love of hockey, certain types of movies, whatever), but then what? You can only spend so much time saying “Wow, I think you are great,” before you need to move on to other conversational topics, and what would those be? I am not good at talking to strangers. And it’s even weirder if you do know personal details about the person–because it seems weird to bring those up to a stranger, without any of the small talk that usually gradually brings you to those details, after you are more comfortable together. Intimacy should be earned, I think.
But, this was still worth the time, and not as strange as I feared it would be. Ms. Fowler spoke a bit first, and several people asked questions, so there was a nice give and take. And she was very gracious and welcoming. I think I will try to go to more of these author visits. Michael Chabon is coming to St. Louis next month, I would love to get my copy of Yiddish Policeman’s Union signed!