Fun fact about reading: it’s a solitary experience. You can join a club or have an electronic machine do it for you, but basically, it’s just you and the words.
That’s why it’s so strange to go to a reading. I generally try to hear my favs speak as often as I know they’re speaking, but the experience is inevitably disappointing. I’ve usually already read what they’re reading and the Q&A after is always filled with stupid Qs, like why did you make this character male?*
I bring this all up because I saw Joseph O’Neill speak last night. He was everything I could want from an author: he kept his selection brief, answered a lot of questions and signed my books. But even in the best of circumstances, relating to a fictional character isn’t the same as relating to a person. Perhaps I should stop being disappointed that hearing a writer read his own words isn’t the same as catching up with a good friend.
*Actual question from a Jhumpa Lahiri reading.