The most interesting question ever asked of me at a book talk and other notes from my recent appearance in Leverett, Massachusetts

As I was preparing to leave for my recent book talk at the library in Leverett, Massachusetts, , I asked my daughter for a kiss, explaining that I would be gone for the rest of the night. “I’m going to a library to talk to some people about my books. Okay?”

“Don’t go, Daddy!” she shouted. “I love you! Those people don’t love you!”

Three year olds are not supposed to be so effectively cruel at this age.

Clara was also appalled that I wasn’t going to her “most favorite library in the world.” As I left the room, she shouted, “That is not the right library, Daddy! It’s not right!”

Had the word traitor been in her vocabulary, I suspect that she would have used it. 

Notes from the evening include:

  • Leverett, Massachusetts is a town without streetlights. I can’t express to you how dark sections of that town are at night. I felt as if I was passing through Sleepy Hollow, and at any second, my headlights to fall upon the Headless Horseman. Even in the relative safety of my car, it was a little creepy.
  • I met another fan of the Books on the Nightstand podcast, which appears to be spreading like a benevolent virus throughout the book-loving world. It’s so interesting to meet someone who listens to the same podcasts as me. It means the same voices (in this case those of Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness) inhabit our heads at least once a week, making me feel an instant connection to this particular woman even though we had just met.
  • For the fourth time this year, I was asked if I perform standup comedy. I tried to explain to my overly generous audience that a standup comedian’s job is much more complicated and requires more courage than I could ever muster. A standup comedian tells jokes in a carefully constructed set, and he or she must perform in front of an audience that has paid money with the expectation that they will laugh. The stakes are high and hecklers abound. I simply tell stories, many of which happen to be amusing.
  • Still, it was a nice question to be asked, and I was grateful for my ability to make my audience laugh. The question was also deemed the most interesting or challenging question of the evening, earning the questioner a prize. Last night it was the Greek edition of MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND. 
  • My former McDonald’s employee and friend from twenty years ago, who now lives in California, was in attendance, much to my surprise. In fact, she sat in the back so I didn’t see her until the end of my talk. You never realize how much you have missed a person until you see that person face-to-face. Unfortunately, we were only able to spend a few minutes together before we had to part company once again.

Incidentally, the most interesting or challenging question of all time was asked a couple years ago. A woman asked, “What role do your ex-girlfriends play in your fiction.”

Surprised by the question, I asked the woman what made her ask it.

She said, “You look like the kind of guy who has had a lot of ex-girlfriends.”

Despite her suspect rationale and passive-aggressive attack on my character, I actually liked the question a lot. I view every question as an opportunity to tell a story, so after explaining to the woman that I could not think of any way that my ex-girlfriends played a role in my fiction, I was able to tell a couple of funny stories about ex-girlfriends, including the girl who slept with her eyes wide open.

I’d wake up in the morning, uncertain if she was gazing lovingly at me or still fast asleep.

Even creepier than the Headless Horseman.