Phil and Donna and Joni and I went to see Abraham Verghese (Cutting for Stone) at Dominican College in San Rafael this past Wednesday night (for the second time, we ate at Il Davide, in downtown San Rafael - a very good restaurant). Unlike Jodi Picoult, who got stuck in the 200-seat auditorium, this one was in a 800-seat auditorium. It was absolutely packed. In fact, we got there about 20 minutes early and ended up in the last row - in the balcony! The space between each row was geared for kindergartners. My knees were directly under my chin.
The format for this appearance was as an interview conducted by Michael Krastny, a local celebrity, who has a radio and TV presence connected to the arts. It was interesting to see Verghese but the format is a little boring. After the formal interview, he answered questions that were submitted by audience members on cards. I much prefer author events where the author talks directly to the audience and takes questions directly from the audience. Those events are more informal and quite a bit livelier. Even Ken Follett, a true literary rock star, appeared by himself and took questions directly from audience members.
Verghese did have a few interesting things to say. It took him 8 years to write the book and he admitted that 7 years ago (the book came out in 2009) he did a storyboard in which he envisioned amazing success with this book. He was either very prophetic or very powerful in the universe.
Here are some random notes. He is Ethopian of Indian descent (like his protagonist). He is a doctor and teaches at Stanford. The university gives him time to write. And the movie rights to his book have been sold to a company called Anonymous Content. When he was asked what actors he envisioned to play his characters, he could only come up with Kevin Costner.
Perhaps the most enlightening tidbit he gave was that there were times in the writing of the book where he cried over his characters. He seems like a genuinely nice man. He had written 2 non-fiction books before this one but had achieved limited success and notoriety. Cutting for Stone elevates him to (super)star status. Despite all of that, he maintains a humility and a "Gosh, I'm a lucky guy" attitude. I liked him.
Upcoming events -
Richard North Patterson is coming to Book Passage on Monday, May 9, to promote his new book. This guy is absolutely fascinating. I've already shared the story of seeing him a couple of years ago and hearing amazing stories of how he did his research abroad under very harrowing circumstances. He writes well and researches well. Unfortunately, I can't make that one. However...
Ann Patchett will be at an author luncheon on Wednesday, June 15, also through Book Passage. I love her stuff. So far, I've read 3 of her books - Bel Canto (great, until the ending), The Magician's Assistant, and Run. She is excellent. I'm hoping to read one more of her books before June 15. As far as the luncheon itself is concerned, it's $55.00 per person, which includes a signed book (her new one), a catered lunch, and her. Joni and I are already signed up.