I can't handle watching any more of these so-called debates, "my friends", so I skipped the one last night and went over to the Fitzgerald Theater in downtown St. Paul to see and hear the novelist Richard Russo. As it happens, I have read four of his books this year, and here he was making an interview appearance at the Talking Volumes series sponsored by Minnesota Public Radio. His novels generally take place in small-town upstate New York, with quirky small-town characters and meandering, detailed plots. His best-known book is Empire Falls, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2001. The interview last night was interesting: he has a great personality, is very articulate and funny, gave good insights on how his books came to be.
But what was best was being an audience of several hundred people where most of them had read some Russo and were generally well-read. Reading a book is mostly sort of a solitary, intimate experience between reader and writer, and it was fun talking "book chat" to people sitting near me in the audience or standing in the line to get our books signed. Other authors that I've seen and met as part of this series have included Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood. Next month, Wally Lamb, author of She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True, will be there, so I need to decide whether to try to read one of those books before then (The latter has 928 pages -- ouch!)... Have any of you "friends" read either of these?