Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Visit from Garth Stein to Rakestraw Books - An Educational Evening - Who Knew?

Last night, Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain (you can see my review 2/11/11), came to Rakestraw Books in Danville to talk about his new book, A Sudden Light.  As you all (ad nauseum) know, I go to a lot of author events.  My normal haunting grounds are Kepler's, Books, Inc. (Mt. View and Palo Alto), Book Passage (Corte Madera), and, of course, Village House of Books.  Last night was only my 3rd time at Rakestraw.  But I have to say that it was memorable.  Why would that be, you wonder? When Garth was only doing what so many other authors have done?  Namely, read from, and promote, their books?  Well, here's the difference:  Garth actually taught me something.  In fact, he taught me several somethings.  And his book is fiction.  If it were non-fiction, I guess you could say that you would expect to learn something.  Here are some very interesting facts I learned from last night:

1.  King County (where A Sudden Light takes place) is named after William Rufus King. He holds the distinction of having the shortest vice-presidential run in our history - 17 days.  And then he died.  But do you know what other distinction he holds?  He was the long-time, well-known lover of president James Buchanan.

2.  Back in the 1800's, there were a quite a few male gay relationships that went uncommented-on.  There is a rumor that Abraham Lincoln had 4 very close male friends. It was never determined if these were gay relationships or not.  But word is they well could have been.

3.  Seattle's modern-day history begins in 1851, but it wasn't until the late 1800's that it became a civilized area.  Prior to that, it was wild.

4.  Garth is a very close friend of Erik Larson (author of In the Garden of Beasts, one of my top books of 2011, and Devil in the White City).  In fact, Garth has the edge over Erik in tennis (Garth's description of his advantage was a bit more colorful than mine!).

5.  Garth is also a good friend of Jamie Ford who, of course, has written 2 books that I loved - Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and Songs of Willow Frost.

6.  Garth looks a little bit like Todd McClellan, coach of the Sharks.

Okay, the last 3 aren't exactly historical facts, but I thought they were interesting nonetheless.

Most importantly, with a crowd of about 50 there, Garth was very engaging.  He made an appeal to support local businesses and engage in community discourse before he ever started talking about his book or himself.  He's enthusiastic and connects with the audience.  And his entire talk is off the cuff.  None of it sounds rehearsed.  All in all, a very fun evening.  And worth the 1:45 minute drive to get there! (but only 45 minutes to get home).  I'm putting A Sudden Light near the top of my TBR pile.

1 comment:

  1. I so wish I could have been there. Garth is one of my favorites!