We braved a tremendous thunderstorm to join 40-50 others at the Harvard Book Store last night. After previewing some other upcoming bookstore events, author Samuel Shem was introduced to a hearty round of applause.
Shem joked that we got a “real bargain”, with his free reading: Salman Rushdie will be at the store next month; tickets for that event are $5. He gave a nod to independent bookstores (formerly the BookSense alliance, now IndieBound), and encouraged the audience to continue to support this vital arm of the community.
He read several passages from his newest novel, The Spirit of the Place (see my review here). As usual, I gleaned even more from hearing the author read his work than I had from my own reading of it. There is great foreshadowing in the opening scene, when one of the characters states, “in our very brokenness…is our wealth.” Those who have read the book will understand how that sentiment echoes at the conclusion of the story.
Shem opened up the floor to questions from the audience. He spoke a bit about influences from his own childhood, and from his work as a psychiatrist. When asked for advice to a would-be author, Shem replied “I write because I can’t not write“, encouraging the novice to keep at it if she has a true hunger for writing.
After the reading and question/answer session, Shem graciously signed books. It was a very enjoyable evening; I highly recommend that you investigate author events at your local bookstore. Many store have readings and book discussion groups listed on their websites or via an e-newsletter.