literary divas

in from a chilly london night ...

I have just arrived home from a reading from DBC Pierre, Chuck Klosterman and Michael Smith at the Royal Festival Hall.

First off, let’s start by saying it is as cold as a witch’s tit outside. Not from a temperature reading that makes you think “brrr”, but from a wind chill factor that makes your bones feel the Arctic and your feet go numb. I guess what I am getting at is that it is a miracle that yours truly did the March of the Penguins to see anyone – let alone a few authors of which I hadn’t even finished (or heard of) their novels. But miracles do happen in these modern times and I did actually make the trek to see these three.

And how did it actually fare?

I began my defrosting phase by having a few pints of lager. I was a bit confused when I was asked if I were in the Purcell Room or the Elizabeth Hall – and upon response given the plastic cup. Were these telltale signs of the ghettoness of my experience to come? Or more pointers toward the “rock star” aspect of the authors and their following? Needless to say, I slammed my beer out of fear that I would be asked to relinquish the contents upon entrance (not the case as it turned out).

The reading started out with Michael Smith accompanied by some unknown figure whose name I fail to recall at this juncture. Mr/Miss Jujubee for the sake of this story. Michael is a Northerner, handsome fellow with a bit of beard growth, just the right length that you would figure him to be a writer or slacker (pretty interchangable really). He read from his novel “The Giro Playboy” along with some downtempo music. His accent was quite thick and his words came slowly. The reading was nice and hypnotic. The right mixture of charm, humour and heartbreak to keep an audience enraptured.

Next came Chuck Klosterman. A downright American who has that hint of North Dakota that makes it hard to diffentiate him from a Canadian because there is something not quite right about him (at least to this Californian). Yet another author whom I have not read…His book – “Killing Yourself to Live” which is subtitled as being “85% true”. This is a book about his trip across the States to visit sites where famous rockstars have perished, but ends up actually dealing more with his life, loves, etc.. (from what I gather, remember, I haven’t actually read it)… Anyways – Chuck’s reading was very entertaining. He has a natural flair for public speaking that verges on the front of comedy – besides, the Brits love any American that is self-depreciating.

Moving on to the star diva of the night DBC Pierre. Author of the Booker Prize 2003 for Vernon God Little. Pierre was reading from his latest novel from which I could surmise is about siamese twins looking for mail order eastern European brides. Title = Ludmila’s Broken English


Yes, that is correct. You heard me. Siamese (or conjoined) twins looking for mail order eastern European brides.

Is this a John Irving novel? Are there bears? Am I smoking crack? What the fuck did you just say?

No. No. No. And I said – Siamese (or conjoined) twins looking for mail order eastern European brides.

OK. Now that we have that clear…how was the reading? It was. Interesting. He read complete with Russian (bordering on Estonian) accents to a plot that I wasn’t sure I was following. Perhaps I drank a pint too many and was clouded by the fact that I was trying to plan a quiet escape to the toilet, but all in all I was not that excited. Both authors that had preceeded him were far more in tune with the audience. A skill that I don’t expect people who write to have exactly – but I still wasn’t captured by the reading.

Following all of this – and my imminent escape to the bathroom – was the questions portion of the evening. Again, Chuck and Michael stole the show with light and fun responses to questions. I had the feeling when DBC answered anything that he was a) taking himself far too seriously or b) totally drunk on whiskey. If B were the answer, then I respect him a lot more….

The outcome of the evening? I ended up buying all three books, getting them signed (like some literary groupie slut) and will read all of them before passing further judgement.

Because – remember what they say – you can’t judge a book by its cover.

And I guess you can’t judge an author by his reading…So I’ll let you know how it all turns out.