My book group picked Townie and we were fortunate enough to have a field trip to The Newton Free Library to hear author Andre Dubus speak last month and read from Townie. He is an incredible speaker; engaging, funny, touching, serious, irreverent and also nice to look at (oh, you were thinking it!) and I am having trouble putting down this book – I even chose it over my iPad in jury duty hell room today although it may have been easier to concentrate on the iPad in that small, loud space). I also grew up in the Merrimack Valley so many of the places he writes about have a familiar ring (Zayre’s, Demoulas Markets) but luckily I don’t come from such a dark place and find it amazing to realize that his reality was so different from my own.
He writes and speaks with honesty and sensitivity about a difficult family life and his own behavior which had to be tough even this far away from it. He has a natural charismatic way about him and is sweetly down to earth and genuine. He teaches creative writing as an Associate Professor at the University of Lowell (another connection – my father taught there too, but not in the same department or even at the same time) and his class must be a joy to attend. He understands how the creative process works and the necessity of being open to the process and he described it as lovingly and respectfully as I have ever heard it described. This is a tough book to read but even more difficult to put down.
For the holiday party of our book group, Pragmatic Mom had a great idea to bring a gently used/loved book to swap at our event. Love a Yankee Grab and especially one with books! Of course it is at the same time as the Library’s Friends Holiday party, so I will make an appearance at each event.
Phew. What a day. The 26th Annual Book and Author Lunch was held at the Newton Marriott (with over 245 people in attendance) to hear Andre Dubus III and Anita Shreve speak. Mayor Setti Warren made a nice speech before the lunch and the very dedicated Friends of the Newton Free Library did a wonderful job organizing this event.
When the Library has visiting authors, someone from the volunteers “hosts” them – basically makes sure they are comfortable. Anita Shreve was to be hosted by a lovely friend who needed me to pinch hit at the last minute. Gladly. I like Anita Shreve’s writing and have read more than a few. Was I nervous? Well, if you measure sheer nervous energy by the sheer volume of words – yes, I was. I have hosted authors before and didn’t think I would be, but I was. I did google her before lunch, mostly to refresh my memory – I knew Weight of Water and The Pilot’s Wife off the bat but she has fifteen books listed on her website (a very thorough and lovely website). Hopefully we made Ms. Shreve feel welcome (I did open her water bottles and protect her dessert) and luckily Andre Dubus is a charming force of nature and is friends with Anita. So I scooted over and let them sit next to each other. The conversation was lively and the talks were inspiring. Go to the Newton Free Library page where I hope that Anita’s recommendations will soon be posted, I want to read (or re-read) each writer on her list.
Andre was engaging, funny, charmingly edgy and handsome (bonus in a room of women) and most of the audience is ready to sign up to audit one of his writing classes. You can tell that he loves what he does, both writing and teaching – and his enthusiasm is contagious. You can see for yourself in this video.
His new book is due out in February, called Townie about growing up in a New England mill town. I can’t wait to read it – I think his voice will be so strong in this book. All in all a very interesting day.
Anita Shreve is coming to our local library’s Book and Author Luncheon today – it is put on by the lovely Friends of the Newton Free Library and I am filling in for someone as hostess for Anita Shreve! Luckily I had only to go to my bookshelf for a refresher on the books she has written. The Pilot’s Wife, The Weight of Water (both made in to movies). Andre Dubus III is the other featured author (House of Sand and Fog). I will fill you in later. Off for hostess duty!