A Day in the Life, Part 2: She Meets a Hero
I saw T. Coraghessan Boyle last night. Heard him. Touched him. I didn’t go all five senses on him, though, (barely) restraining myself from sniffing or licking him.
T. Coraghessan was darling. Brilliant. Much more personable and charming (and taller) than I imagined. He started out talking about writing and his background and his process. He read the first chapter of Talk Talk (and did a great job reading it; not every writer can read his words well), then answered questions (keep reading for the answers to many of those questions).
I also learned how to pronounce his name: cor-RĂG-uh-son. (Mary, practice it in front of a mirror before the next visit, okay?)
He mentioned (as Rita Mae Brown once told me) that he finds it strange that his publisher rarely includes Atlanta on his book tours. This is a short tour — originally just seven cities, now expanded to thirteen — and he requested that Atlanta be among the seven.
Invisible Lizard: He wore red Chuck Taylors with his black pants, cool black T-shirt with silk-screened fish, and light blue sports coat. And the necklace he’s wearing on the Talk Talk cover.We then queued up on the front porch of The Dump (the apartment house in which Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone with the Wind). He signed my book, warmly shook my hand and chatted me up a bit (he chatted with every person; very cool). He loved my necklace.
The book and the necklace:
I can’t quite make out what he wrote between my name and his; I think it reads “You’re a hot little minx, aren’t you?”
My Missed Opportunity
I’m dogsitting for my sister this weekend. She was a little anxious about my getting to her place so late, so I promised her I’d be there by 9 p.m. Got in line at 8 p.m. to have my book signed, so timing was good. Or, it appears, wasn’t. Behind me was this cute farmer/artist, with long, wavy black hair and a cute personality. He chatted and flirted and blushed when he looked me in the eyes. He told me about his crops, his books, why it wasn’t raining in Marietta, his favorite breakfast spot (he’s going to keep an eye out for me, because I simply must try it), and how close his farm is to my mother’s house. I wanted (oh, God, did I want) to ask him out for a drink … but my love for my canine nephew won out, and so I left alone. And spent the rest of my evening watching that beloved dog sleep on the couch.
Because I am a writer and a student of great writing (and because I’m one huge nerd), Professor Bastard will be glad to know that I took notes during T.C.'s chat. Among the things I learned from my Authorian hero:
- He disagrees with the basic writing adage. His writing adage: Write what you don’t know, and find something out.
- He does not think deep thoughts all the time, only when he’s writing. If you see him walking down the street, he’s probably thinking “Kill. Screw. Eat.”
- He usually comes up with the title of the book first.
- He had the idea of a book about identity theft, but couldn't get started once he completed his research. Then, he had an appointment with his recently divorced dentist, who kept talking about the hot deaf woman who had been in earlier ... and Dana and the Talk Talk story were born (with a nod to the dentist in the first chapter).
- His favorite of his novels: Water Music, his first
- He completed East Is East in a cabin in the mountains ... wrote the last word ... went for a hike to relax ... couldn't ... and came back in to write a short story.
- His first two novels each took three years to write. His latest, Talk Talk, took eight months (excluding research).
- He turns in a manuscript and that's what published. A little copy editing, that's it. His editor and publisher — both of whom he's been with since college (since college!) — don't bother it. They did, however, cut Dana's novella from the end of Talk Talk; that's now running in the current McSweeney's.
- He hasn’t watch television since 1972.
- He was a history major until he read a Flannery O’Connor story in an English class. He then became a history/English major.
- While attending the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, he was taught by or became friends with Raymond Carver, John Cheever, and John Irving.
- He writes every day. After he finishes the day’s writing, he reads it aloud to his (he claims, long-suffering) wife. He loves to listen to the meter of the words as they’re spoken aloud.
- As a professor at UCLA, he teaches just 39 days out of the year.
- His favorite writers writing today include Louise Erdrich (who doesn’t love her?) and his friend Richard Ford (who will be at the Margaret Mitchell house this fall).
- He does not like genre fiction because it’s flatly written. There’s no dimension, no beauty of the language.
And, that, ladies and gentlemen, was the beautiful end to two crappy days.
UPDATE: Click here for an interesting post on T.C. Boyle.
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