Intrepid friend Lisa and I went to the Free Library this evening for readings by David Levithan and Wesley Stace, and we left feeling as if we'd been given a lovely present.
David Levithan read from The Lover's Dictionary, his marvelous book about "post-teenagers" in a relationship, written as an alphabetical series of dictionary entries. David took marvelous words - words like kerfuffle and yearning - and wrote entries for them, which, when read together, tell the story of a relationship. It is a wonderful, funny, poignant, moving book, and David's reading was all that and more. The audience laughed and mmmmed in all the right places as David's comments - some comical, some poetic, some profound - hit home.
And then David sat down in the front row of the auditorium, and Wesley Stace (sometimes known as singer/songwriter John Wesley Harding) took the stage to read from his latest novel, Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer. He has a marvelous reading voice (I am a sucker for an English accent - or perhaps any accent, but Wesley Stace has a rich, melodious voice made of YUM!), but in addition to that, he has Serious Writing Chops. Lovely turns of phrase. Evocative writing. Truly good stuff.
The passage that Wesley read was about a classical musician out looking for English folk music in the early 1900s. And he meets a shepherd, who sings a gorgeous rendition of a ballad. And then, after reading the passage, Wesley turned into John Wesley Harding, and pulled out his guitar and played and sang the ballad he'd just read about, all about "Little Mossgrave". It was fabulous and, as Lisa said, felt just as if we'd been given a marvelous gift.
Both authors took the stage for a Q&A, which yielded some interesting information. Like that the gender of the parties in The Lover's Dictionary is deliberately unspecified, so you don't know if it's a homo- or heterosexual couple. David said, in essence, that with this particular story, being set as it is in New York City now, and featuring a 20-something couple, it didn't matter if they were gay or straight, because they'd behave pretty much the same way. Boy did that do my heart good to hear - I remember too well the sort of prejudices that friends faced out of college back in the mid-80s, and it's wonderful to think how far we've come since then, even if there is still a way to go! The last question (to both authors) was from the realm of the bizarre - in essence, how do you know when to end a chapter and start a new one - but it yielded up thoughtful responses nonetheless. What lovely authors*, and what a lovely evening!
Truly, if there are free author events in your area, I hope you'll take advantage and go. Sometimes the evenings are only so-so, but sometimes, when you get lucky as Lisa and I did tonight, they are magical.
Oh - and speaking of lovely authors (were we not?), I have to thank Jo Knowles and Carrie Jones, both of whom are friends and truly lovely ladies as well as being lovely authors, for pimping my auction items on Facebook and Twitter. It appears that at least there have been opening bids on my items for the Kidlit 4 Japan auction, and that makes me happy. Thank you, lovely friends! Oh - and both of them have items in the auction, too. Jo's auction closes on Thursday at 11 a.m. (Carrie's items will go up next week, I believe.)