Big Fish

I’ve been swimming in bigger ponds (whatever that means — off the Island, I guess) lately, the other night at the book awards, and last night had a brief interview with Dave Eggers after his really funny and entertaining conversation with Stephen Elliott onstage at the Oakland Museum. The event was to highlight National Library Week at the Oakland Public Library, and the place was packed.

Digression: Sometimes I hate being press — people don’t trust you, don’t want to talk to you, they think you’re out to screw them somehow (as if I have time for that) — but when it gets you front-row (or free) seats to sold-out or full-house events, well, baby, I’m your gal. (Free food, too — hey, if there’s food, I’ll cover it…White House, dog house, hen house or outhouse…now you know the darker side of my journalistic ethics.) So I was (cleansing breath, taking sacred pause) grateful to have a front row seat last night.

Took photos, asked a few quick questions and made my plug for Alameda Literati — and got a yeah, cool, so I’m very excited. I keep getting yes from people I expect to give me no. How cool is that?

Best stories included tales from the road as Eggers and Elliott covered the 2004 election, attended the Republican National Convention, canvassed voters on Election Day, chased after Kerry and Edwards’ buses, and travelled to and fro. Loved Eggers’ story about how his notebook got lost on the airline, but when he went to retrieve it, the State Department detained him because of some random notes about Osama Bin Laden, a sketch of George Bush as a quadruple amputee (like many of the soldiers returning from Iraq) and doodlings of flames and fire. Hey, it’s a notebook — it’s supposed to be a free space for writing and doodling. What if they read yours? What if they read mine? (Note — mine is all boo-hoo and woe is me. So don’t bother stealing it — wait for the paperback.)

My favorite quotes of the evening:

Eggers: (noting that the State Department was concerned about his “writings”) — “Normal people write things but crazy people have writings.”

Elliott: “I never in my wildest dreams thought that anybody would pay me for my writing — and I was right.”

Elliott: (answering a question about which author steeped in fame and glory is most undeserving; Eggers refused to answer on principle) — “We all hate Michael Chrichton.”

After more photos and schmooze, I sped back through the Tube to Karen Z’s Spellbinding Tales (just voted in East Bay Express as “Spookiest Bookstore” — cool!) and met up with the stragglers from a reading; all the English profs from CSU East Bay (nee Hayward) where I got my MA were there to read. I missed the reading, cf above, but got to see my favorite poetry and creative writing professors and my once-thesis advisors, Sara McAuley and Steve Gutierrez (those poor folk had to read my nascent novel when it was still 600 pages long. god luv ’em.). And they remember me. So how cool is that?

All in all, a pretty intense night of literary hoo-ha. And I’m thinking that Literati is gonna rock this year. Let me say it again — Alameda Literati is gonna rock!

I’m off for a weekend of softball (watching/cheering), writers’ group (reading/wincing), then Jimmy Buffett concert in San Jose (drinking/dancing), after-party (ditto, plus hot-tubbing/retching), Sunday brunch (or rather, sleeping/recovering) and then returning to the Island (catching up/folding laundry). Well, at least some of those things. I’m mostly an observer of events and activities (that’s what writers do), but what the hay…anyway, I consider this a lost weekend after a week of good work. Happy days…

Advice to Aspiring Writers: Take a day off once in a while. Also, ibid previous ATAW: It never hurts to ask.

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