Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Literary Friendships

Last night, whilst Professor X and Amazing Children went off to the school board meeting armed with pitchforks and flaming torches to save the orchestra program from the chopping block, yours truly did something super fun. One of my fellow writing class students had two extra tickets to a program with authors Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett!


CENTER FRONT ROW TICKETS. -------> No, that's not me and my friends. I just found the pic at the Schnitz's website. But it shows how pretty it is inside.


I know you are insanely jealous, but still really happy for me, your friend, who got to do this cool thing.

I loved the fun, relaxed interaction of the two authors as they came out on stage, kicked off their shoes, and curled up on huge overstuffed chairs. They had met at a conference a few years ago, liked each other, and carried on a friendship entirely by letterwriting. Remember that? There is paper involved, and stamps. The Portland Arts and Lecture series brought them together to talk about their lives and writing and anything else that struck their fancy. It was a sold out crowd that oohed and ahhed and laughed as the two had a marvelous conversation. Bliss. I feel so lucky to have been there.

Afterward, I met both authors. I told Ann Patchett that I'd read her book Run and was really looking forward to reading her others. She laughed and said it was great to meet someone who hadn't yet read Bel Canto. It's sold over a million copies in the US and has been translated into 30 languages. While this photo wasn't taken of her that night, I like it because it captures her personality. Fun.

I told Elizabeth Gilbert that I came prepared to not like her because she was so wildly successful and so pretty. I genuinely thought she'd be very stuck up after having all her adventures which she then chronicled in Eat, Pray, Love and selling a gazillion copies and being on the New York Times bestseller list for the last 27 years. (Over five million copies sold, on list for over a year) But I said I'd just been charmed at how nice she was, and that her self deprecating wit made me want to be her very best friend. She laughed and asked to look at the contents of my locket, which had my children's pictures in it. She said they were beautiful. Oddly, she did not ask for my address so that we could begin a long letter-writing friendship. Oh well.

Here's a hint of the energy I got to witness last night from Gilbert. Aren't you charmed too?


Rachel Fox said...

I've never heard of either of them. Maybe they haven't got this far yet...or maybe I'm just very out-of-date!

Fantastic Forrest said...

Rachel - I was a little surprised by your comment. They've definitely made their way to the UK. The Montrose library has all 3 books in their collection. Bel Canto and Run are checked in, Eat Pray Love is due back soon. Quite honestly, I'm not sure I'd recommend EPL because it is a little self indulgent. I've heard her earlier book of short stories, Pilgrims, is very good. And I liked Run a lot.

Patchett spoke as part of a group of U.S Authors at the 2007 Edinburgh International Book Festival. But she doesn't really like to travel, so I don't know if she'll show up again anytime soon.

I, on the other hand, would warmly welcome another trip to Edinburgh. So would the rest of my gang!!

Rachel Fox said...

Yes - I looked up the first author and she has won the Orange prize here so I should have heard of her but I never have. My daughter was one that year so maybe I was otherwise engaged!

I have a stack of 'to read' books right now but I will look in the library some time later in the year.

I am very unreligious so anything with 'pray' in the title would not leap off a shelf at me. Maybe that's why I've not noticed the other one.

Fantastic Forrest said...

My book group read Eat, Pray, Love. I probably wouldn't have picked it myself. I got pretty turned off even from the beginning, where she talked about sobbing on her bathroom floor, despairing at the expectation others like her husband had that she would have children. I just couldn't empathize. I know there are some people who SHOULDN'T have children, and I'm fine with people who don't want them, but having experienced the incredible love from being a mom, I just felt I didn't have much in common with her. If you can see her speak, though, I think it's well worth it. She sparkles like a really good actress.

I'm curious - as one of his fellow countrymen, what do you think of Alexander McCall Smith? His books are always in my reading pile. :)

Rachel Fox said...

My Mum reads them and loves them. I haven't read any yet so can't offer an opinion.
Is he my countryman? I'm not sure. I am English (mostly) but live in Scotland and have various family connections. I am doing a blog about home some time soon.

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

Insanely, INSANELY envious. I haven't read Patchett yet (putting her on my list right now), but I know I will be even more envious once I do. I liked EPL, even though I couldn't relate to much of it. It was an interesting read all the same.

Yes, yes, happy for you too, lucky girl. ;-)

Lisa Wheeler Milton said...

I commented here yesterday.

Pinky swear!

I think I said I was jealous, catching two readings in one fell swoop...

(What's up, blogger?)

Fantastic Forrest said...

Rachel Fox - Well, he's a fellow UK'er, so sort of countryman! :)

JaPRA - thanks! Let me know what you think about Patchett.

Lisa - yeah, sure, I believe you... ;)

Bee said...

Totally charmed. I want to catch a poem by its tale!!

I like both authors. A lot.
I read Eat Pray Love on a beach in Antigua. It was a really excellent beach book.

Have you read Patchett's book about her friendship with fellow writer Lucy Greely (sp?)? Fascinating. I can't remember the title, because I gave it to a woman who was sitting next to me on a plane.