10 February 2009

Smitten. Or, How the Mountain Went to Muhammad

The title about sums it up.  I met a literary hero of mine today, the man who wrote the best book out of the last couple hundred or so that I've read.  I am in deep smit, as a friend of mine says.  My colleagues, Joan and Emily, and I traveled with about 300 books to Boston today so that we could get them signed for our First Editions Club (FEC).  Abraham Verghese wrote an amazing first novel (he's written two previous memoirs), but beg and plead as we did, we weren't able to schedule a reading at our store.  His book is a big to-do this season and every major bookstore was clamoring for him.  Being off the beaten Boston-NYC-Washington, DC path as we are, we didn't really stand a chance.

Well, if Muhammad can't come to the mountain, the mountain must find a way to go to Muhammad.  Hence packing up the car and making the roadtrip today, meeting up with two sales reps from Random House, and getting Commonwealth Hotel security to help us maneuver two flatbeds' worth of books up to Verghese's hotel room.  The day was just about perfect as far as I'm concerned: a few hours of booktalk, a nice lunch, a visit to a really nice bookstore for the first time (the Wellesley Booksmith), and, of course, going all fangirl over meeting Mr. Verghese.  He was as lovely as can be, gracious and engaging, soft-spokenly charming.  In a word, delightful.  He also happened to mention that somebody at Knopf had shown him my earlier blog post in which I gushed about his book, and he even joked that he had taken extra care getting a close shave this morning before meeting his fan.  

You know how every once in a while you read a book that you want to tell everybody about? Cutting for Stone is like that for me.  It's really everything that a great epic novel should be, with incredibly sharp observations on the human condition, realistic and complicated characters and their inter-personal relationships, all set against the wider background of important world events, with nuanced social commentary as a constant undercurrent.  I loved it.  And I have the feeling that it's a book I may turn to again & again.  
 Here's the photo of us after the books were signed.  L-R: me, Verghese, Emily RM, Joan.  Hotel security has just come in to help us get the 30 boxes back down to the loading dock.

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