I went to the 3rd annual Book Group Expo in San Jose today. In essence, its an expo for people in book clubs, but I think it was a relevant and fun expo for any reader or writer, in a group or just on their own.
I attended 2.5 salons today, I say .5 because I was late for the first one. The topics were interesting, but it was listening to the author’s talk that was really the best part of the day. I was introduced to a large number of authors, of various topics and genres through these salons. The one I particularly enjoyed was called “The Liar’s Club: and The Art of Storytelling.” Of the 3 authors on the stage, there was one in particular that caught my eye, Rabih Alameddine. He was hilarous. He was eloquent, funny, sarcastic, worldy, I could just keep going. He had some very insightful thoughts into the role of the author as a storyteller. There was one line that he said that stuck with me all day, “We are the stories and the myths that we believe in. Unless we understand that, we can’t communicate.” I took it to mean that even though the story comes from the writer’s imagination, chances are something in that book has happened to somebody at sometime someplace. Alameddine spoke quite a bit about understanding the history of life around the main character as a way to understand the main character itself. There are layers of stories between people, and they overlap, and you have to understand one person’s story in order to understand anothers.
I ended up buying his book, The Hakawati, in the marketplace soon after the salon was over. He was a very friendly man, and he even signed my copy of the book. I am really excited to start reading his work. I read through the first couple of pages and I fell in love with his writing already. I hope the momentum stays.
One thing I noticed most, was the authors I took special note of were the authors that were the most eloquent when speaking in the salons. I was surprised at the number of authors that could not answer a simple question properly, would stray off into tangents, or make jokes that weren’t funny. Other authors were on point and witty. I know its taboo to pick a book based on the cover, but is it the same form of judging to pick a book based on the author’s ability to articulate his/her thoughts verbally in front of a large crowd of mostly middle aged women? What I really gained from today, is just a longer To Be Read list, especially since I now have specific authors to look for. Time to put those library cards to use.
A few of the notable authors that caught my attention today are:
– Van Jones, author of The Green Collar Economy.
– Melanie Abrams author of Playing
– Karen Abbott, author of Sin in the Second City