In the last several weeks, I have had the great opportunity to meet both Michael Chabon and Colson Whitehead. Chabon was in Oxford, speaking to the University of Mississippi, and held a very informal book signing at Off Square books. I say informal because for a writer of his stature, there was very little pomp surrounding the event. He walked into the store, sat down, and started singing books. There were only about 15 or so people waiting for him; I assumed quite a few more people would be at his speaking event, which was held at the university later that evening. What was really nice about this event was how relaxed it was. I was second in line. He signed my prized copy of Kavalier and Clay, I told him how much I loved his work, and he posed for a picture with me. I am not much for revealing my heart to my heroes (I am not one for “This books saved my life!”), so when it was over, I really felt the hour and ten-minute drive had been worth it.
The Colson Whitehead event was a nice surprise. Michael and I were in NYC, and stopped in to a small independent bookstore for a cup of coffee. I went on a book-buying splurge, spending well over $100 in twenty minutes. One of the six books I picked up was Whitehead’s newest novel, Zone One. I have only read The Intuitionist by Whitehead, but love his musings in Twitter. It just so happened that Whitehead was speaking that evening, and we made plans to come back to be apart of it. He talked for near twenty minutes, giving an acerbic speech that touched on his career, his thin-walled home, and Donna Summer’s “McAuthur Park.” He answered a few questions, and then got to signing. The line moved fast, and I got my copy autographed quickly. It was a simple event, and perfect for the evening.