August 02, 2005

Author, Author

I have had the fortune to meet quite a few published authors over the past few weeks - mainly authors from the West who have come into the book store where I work.

Jon Turk wrote an interesting book called In the Wake of the Jomon. Jon basically took a kayak from Japan to Russia - a 3,00-mile journey - in an attempt to recreate a posited migration path for the Jomon people. Part anthropological study, part adventure story, his book has been a big hit here in this community.

Jon was one of my teachers in high school. He taught part of a class called Senior Seminar, and, if I recall correctly, his segment covered issues like global populations and ecology. Or something. All I really remember is this one time when he explained that "the earth is groovy for life." Anyway, when he was speaking to a gathered group in our store last month, he blurted, more than once, "What you were taught in high school was a bunch of hooey!" Which, of course, I found amusing. I assume he was addressing the general audience, and not me.

Another former teacher of mine is a local author, as well. John Rember wrote a great book called Traplines: Coming Home to Sawtooth Valley, a memoir about returning to this area after having been away for some time, and the changes that he has encountered. It's interesting to think about the authenticity of our memories, and this book explores that.

But back to me. John Rember, like Jon Turk, politely pretended to remember me from class so many years ago when I accosted him in the store. "So, uh, what have you been doing since 8th grade?" he asked, laughing. He has a recognizable smile, which is how I knew him.

There was one incident in his English class that I remember well, and I don't know why, but I think of it often: We were reading Something Wicked This Way Comes (love). Our assignment for the evening was to read to a certain page before class the next morning. The page we were to end on was right in the middle of a climactic scene, so, of course, we all read further, duh. When he asked in class the next day, "So who was able to stop on page such-and-such?" we mostly kind of laughed, except for this one guy in my class, a total blowhard at the time (he's turned out to be quite nice as an adult), who raised his hand. Of course.

Another author who visited our store was Andrea Koenig, a teacher of fiction at Oklahoma State and author of a new book called Hello Life. We chatted about hiking, dogs, George Eliot, and whether or not it is prudent to get your eyebrows waxed in a small town. She was personable, easy-going, and interesting. I really enjoyed her visit. One of her local fans came by the store to see her: a thin, tan teenage girl who clutched her Andrea Koenig books and hovered nervously until she got up the courage to approach the author. Andrea welcomed her warmly and chatted with her for a bit, and the young admirer became teary, she was so thrilled.

And I've spied a few other authors recently: Mariel Hemingway, Dick Couch, Michael Eisner, and the brilliant Anna Deavere Smith. But I just waited on or around them, and did not chat. I was probably too busy. Shelving, or something. In a couple of weeks the Sun Valley Writers' Conference begins, and I am definitely looking forward to that. Such interesting participants! Can't wait.

1 comment:

Liz Fisher said...

How fun, can't wait to hear your experiences during the conference!