Last night I went to my first Celebrity Book Club. This is held at Newtonville Books once per month and is run by a local celeb. I decided to go this month because I really enjoy Steve Almond's books. He wrote one of my favorites 'Candyfreak' and also 'Which Brings me to You' (this one is about a couple that met hooking up in a coat closet during a wedding and decided to get to know each other the old fashioned way--through letters).
The way we ended up arranging the chairs put me 1 chair away from Mr. Almond. This gave me time to observe random things. I could not help but think, wow...he just looks like a random guy in a hoodie with frayed bottoms to his pants just like any other human. There was something about him though. To me he had that 'writer look' and he also used big words when he spoke (if I was not sitting so close I would have jotted them down to look them up later). He did not use big words to show off, he's just someone that really LOVES to read.
The book we discussed is one of his favorites. Almond explained he read's 'Stoner' (by John Williams) several times per year. He admits he picked it up during college thinking it was a book about drugs and totally fell in love with it. He pretty much salivated over one of the book club participants holding up an original pre-print copy from 1965 (it was a BC professor that did a review on the book back in the day).
'Stoner' is worth a look. It's so beautifully written. The funny thing is that I did not really think all that highly of the book until around 1 hour into our discussion last night. Taking a second look and hearing what a room full of people thought helped re-shape my opinion of the book. It also made a difference in the way I perceive Almond himself. I always thought of him as an amusing guy that lives in the People's Republic of Cambridge that really enjoyed candy. I've met many authors over the years at book signings, library events, and Books and Brews at Newtonville Books. Something about sitting down for nearly 2 hours with an author I like was really something that stands out from the other book-related events.
Famous people (the smart ones) really are just like us. They put their frayed-end pants on one leg at a time.