Last night Tobyjoe and I headed to BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) to see an interview with Jonathan Lethem. The night was fantastic. We ran into Mia and Charles which was a pleasant surprise as Mia had said she wasn’t planning on going. We sat with them and sipped wine (maybe a little too much wine) and ate a fine meal cooked up by BAM and included in our ticket prices. The evening was absolutely worth the 41 bucks. And I think these events might become my new Rock Show. No one spoked when he read. NO ONE. And everyone knows how speaking during any performance makes me feel.
Mr. Lethem began the evening by reading from a novel that’s supposed to be released in March. While he read, I began to wonder about good writing. There were a few times during his reading where certain word clusters seemed stressed out. It’s as if they didn’t really belong together. Had I been reading this to myself, silently, I may not have noticed. But hearing him read it out loud, hell, hearing anyone read them out loud, didn’t quite sound right but overall, it had us laughing out loud. And that’s a very good thing. And I totally want to know how one kidnaps a kangeroo.
I do, however, believe that if a piece of fiction doesn’t read well out loud, it’s probably not very good. I stand by that criticism. I also realized I had a really hard time focusing on the actual content when I looked at him. It helped to focus on a spot on the floor. Weird. I also noticed that I read way too fast as Mr. Lethem’s cadence was much slower than what I generally use in my head. I’m going to try and slow down a little bit from now on. We’ll see how that works.
After he finished the reading, he was interviewed by Jessica Hagedorn. He spoke about being Jewish and growing up in New York City. He talked about his bohemian parents and how he attended Quaker meetings. At that point, Tobyjoe looked back at me and smiled because I have been contemplating and threatening him with joining the Quaker Church. (Oh, to sit in silence for a long while.) Mr. Lethem talked about the inspiration behind Motherless Brooklyn as well as Fortress of Solitude. There were moments where what he was saying was unbelievably funny.
At the end, they gave the audience a chance to ask questions. Perhaps it was the wine, maybe it was the mushrooms I had eaten, but before I knew it, my hand was in the air.
Yes. What is you favorite part of Brooklyn? What is your favorite section?
His favorite section is Dean Street and State. His favorite section is where he grew up. (Looking back, I should have added a clarifier and asked him what his favorite section of Brooklyn was OUTSIDE of where he grew up. But, oh well. I’m most impressed with my suddenly ability to actually speak up in front of hundreds of people. Where did THAT come from?)
After the question and answer part of the evening, we were able to get our books signed. I, of course, forgot mine at home. So I purchased two new ones. I picked up another copy of Motherless Brooklyn, which plan to give away on and I picked up a copy of The Disappointment Artist for myself.
Since I was drinking wine I got chatty and asked him too many questions when he signed my book. I asked him when he wrote – what time of day. He said first thing in the morning. I asked him before or after he brushed his teeth and he said after. I asked him if he drank coffee when he wrote. He said he gave up coffee. I suck. Truly. The good news is, he meets so many people at every reading that I don’t think he’ll remember my stupid ass.
The Motherless Brooklyn book sports an “EAT ME BAILEY!” written by none other than Lethem himself. And as soon as I figure out HOW to give it away on Spread, I’ll let everyone know.