Monday, October 21, 2013

Author Appearance: Paul Harding

This year for our community reads event through the library, we are reading the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Tinkers, by Paul Harding. As part of this celebration, the author himself came to visit. How often do you get to see a Pulitzer Prize winning author?! Not very often I say, so of course, I was there.

Now, I'm not very familiar with either him or his book. I started reading Tinkers during the readathon last week and after not very long decided it was not a good readathon book. It needs a bit of focus and concentration! (I have since, this weekend, read half of the book have learned that there are only a few parts that are "hard" and the rest isn't too bad at all!)

And the author, I'd never heard of until I knew about this event. So basically, I had no idea what to expect or what he would be like. But let me just say, I'm starting to understand that most authors who have won this prize have done so for a reason! This guy knew how to use his words!

I'm not much a fan of  "readings"... you know where the author opens their book and reads away. Usually it's a bit on the boring side, but this guy was fascinating to listen to. Actually, I'm thinking that his book just lends itself to being read out loud. It has that poetic feel and cadence that makes it much more easy to understand if read out loud. And when he himself did it, it was especially awesome.

Then, he simply took questions from the crowd. And his answers, instead of being one worded, short and simple things, were long beautifully worded essays! How can people think on their feet like this? It truly blows me away.

Anyway, I remember someone asked him about doing a book where one of the secondary characters in Tinkers gets the spotlight. He said that you can't set out to write a specific kind of book, that the book sort of comes to you and you just have to go with it. He thinks that if he sat down to do something like that, it just wouldn't work. He went on for quite a long time about this, going with your gut instead of forcing something to happen. 

Someone else asked about what he was doing when he got the news about winning the prize. It was a pretty funny and not-so-glamorous story. He was off away from home, teaching or something. He was lonely and a bit depressed. And  I don't think he even got a phone call or anything until after he saw the news online or somewhere. I can't remember exactly, but he did not find out ahead of time. And then they wanted him to come do press and some such thing, and he was like... "but I don't have a clean shirt!" 

I can't remember now all the questions, but it was a very enjoyable evening and I'm very glad to have taken the time to go listen to him. He was delightful! 

And now that I'm more into the book, I can say that it's being quite delightful too! That review to come soon!

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