We got to hear Paul Auster speak.
He is one of my favorite authors, and Viet introduced me to his work right after we started dating. I read The Book of Illusions, and I knew that any guy I just met that would recommend that book to me must be a keeper.
Yesterday was an awful day in every possible way. Both Viet and I had stressful days, filled with wrinkle making thoughts. But when I picked him from work to head to our new favorite restaurant (with one of our wedding wines in hand) before hearing one of all-time favorite authors speak, we were both all smiles. One hour and forty-five minutes of traffic later, we barely parked and made it to our seats with empty stomachs before the house lights when down.
After seeing many of my very favorite authors speak at the Herbst theater as a part of the City Arts & Lectures series, I've come to expect that I will be awed and charmed by them. But as Paul Auster began to speak, I found him not quite charming at all. It became obvious that he wasn't there to woo us, but more just to be. . . just answering questions frankly with no room for drawn out answers for the sake of baiting the crowd, no inflated resonses nor inflated meanings.
and slowly, I began to like him more. really like him. He seemed so earnest. He said things like (I'm not using quotation marks because these are taken from my rapid scribbles in my tiny notebook):
I want every sentence to explode off the page. and
I want the words to do the work that they're supposed to do.
He was unassuming and matter of fact. He said, I don't think I've learned anything over the years. Experience has taught me nothing. . . I always feel like a beginner.
and just like that, I was charmed. and then, suddenly I was tearing up. He told us I think stoires are central food for the human soul. I don't think of myself as a novelist. I think of myself as a storyteller.
And I realized he reminded me of Viet. So clear and strange and smart and so very different from me. 🙂
Afterwards, we had a buzzing dinner talking about books and love and each other
. . . whirling about our common respect and appreciation for Auster's work. . . comparing him to Michael Chabon and Jonathan Franzen and Jonathan Safran Foer (others we've seen at the Herbst for City Arts & Lectures). . . laughing and reminding each other of past precious moments. . . walking hand in hand through a huge crowd.
and just like that my day was saved.