Tuesday, July 15, 2008

In Which I Nearly Brush Shoulders With Two Amazing Authors In One Night

But it or borrow it, but READ this book.

Mr. D gave it to me for my birthday this winter and I finally got around to reading it last week. And the Great Coincidence? The author, Lesley Kagan, came to town last week. High winds, sleeting rain, children's soccer games couldn't keep me from attending her talk.

I arrived to take a seat behind a book club obviously all there together (and may I commend their excellent taste) and a woman on the other end of the room who was wearing a really cute outfit and I wished I'd sat next to her.

Listening to Lesley Kagan is like when your favorite aunt comes to town and settles in at the kitchen table with her glass of iced tea and starts telling about her exotic and wonderful life for hours and hours.

Only Lesley (I think she'd let me call her that) spoke for an hour.

Her life story is fascinating and her beautiful, brilliant book was rejected by 133 agents before finding a publisher. She explained that 18,000 books are published every month which presents a Publicity Problem. Her first printing was 7,000 books but then Miraculous Things happened: BookSense and Doubleday Book Club featured her book. To date she has sold an astonishing 200,000 copies and Whistling in the Dark is on it's 11th or 12th printing.

She writes full-time, from 5-10:30 every morning (I'll mention that her kids are Out of the House) and she began writing memoirs. Dialogue is a breeze to her, she told our little group huddled in this library basement. She'd spent her whole life talking.

She read from Whistling in the Dark and then from Land of a Hundred Wonders (To Be Released July 29). To say this woman has narrative voice nailed is an understatement. Her new heroine, Gibby, is NQR, Not Quite Right. "Don't we all feel not Quite Right?" Lesley asked the group.

Uh-huh. (I love Lesley. Will pre-order her new book when I'm at Conkey's next Wednesday.)

Whistling is the story of 2 sisters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1958. They are abandoned and surviving in part by mooching off their neighborhood. A Bad Man molesting and murdering girls in their neighborhood, adding to the Dangerous Situation. Suspenseful like Dandelion Wine, true to the quirky voice of a 10 year old girl, full of delish details about characters and setting, I could not put this book down.
I'm sure the first week of August I'll be saying the same thing about Land of a Hundred Wonders.

Then the talk was over and Lesley was headed to a book club member's house for a reception. I had to race across town to watch Mr. T play soccer while Mr. D watched Mr. B play tee ball (did you follow all that?). As I picked up my purse, I heard the librarian refer to the Very Hip Woman I'd noticed earlier. Jess Riley. Jess Riley? No. Freaking. Way.

Jess Riley
who wrote Driving Sideways.

Two fabulous Wisconsin authors in the same room. And I had to leave.
Yet another reason for me to curse youth soccer.


  1. I'm through my most recent stack and on the look out for new books. Thanks for the tip!

  2. I'm headin' over to amazon now to order them both! Thanks for the tip.

  3. Wow! How exciting. I'll add both to my reading list.

  4. two books to add to my list. i should get to them in 2027..

    how very cool that you got to hear the first talk and almost met the second. i hadn't heard of either but can't wait to read them.

  5. I am in need of some new titles. Thanks for the rec. Don't you love reading until the wee hours of the morn?

  6. Very Hip Woman? Oh, you're making me blush!!!! :) Next time you can totally sit by me--I'll save you a seat. :)

    Hope to see you on Aug. 28!!

  7. 18,000 books are published every month! Wow!
    And 2 authors in one night! Another wow!! :)

  8. Great tips! And great experience for you--I love how you keep yourself open to these things when you have so much on your plate~you stretch and stretch yourself.

  9. DOOD. And I totally missed this! LUCK-EEE!

    Adding Whistling in the Dark to my Shelfari "to read" list!

  10. Lookee! She left you a comment! Which you know by now, I'm quite certain.

    Movie and TV celebrities don't really rock my world, but meeting and author I admire? Totally does.

    I've heard about Driving Sideways, but I will have to take a look at the other book. Thanks for the recommendation.

  11. Wait - how do you find time to read? Tell me your secret...

  12. It's refreshing to find someone excited about life and some of the nice things in it.

  13. Two new books to read!
    I can hardly stand it!
    And Jess Riley left a comment!
    And can I lay off the exclamation points?

  14. Thank you! I've read a stack of rubbish books lately...such a disappointment!

    Happy Birthday little G....too cute!


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