Collision of stars


I was in a serious collision this past week. No injuries were sustained. It was a collision of goodness that began with a trip to BookExpo America at the Javits Center. This annual convention of publishers and authors touting their forthcoming releases is Mecca for the book set. Through a series of fortunate events (apologies Lemony Snicket), a band of PPL librarians found themselves at a dinner event sponsored by the Association of American Publishers and emceed by the entertaining, charming and hilarious author ("Help for the Haunted") and editor-at-large of Cosmopolitan, John Searles. In 13 minutes, Searles (who will be appearing at PPL on September 18 with Adriana Trigiani – for goodness sake, mark it on your calendar!) told the story of his love of writing, beginning at a very tender age through his days as a waiter, writing on napkins, and waiting on Erica Jong. It was a perfect tie-in as Jong was one of five authors who spoke about their books and careers.

With a line-up that included Martha Grimes ("Double Double: a dual memoir of alcoholism"); Nancy Horan (Under the Wide and Starry Sky); Meg Wolitzer ("The Interestings"); Donna Tartt ("The Goldfinch"); and Erica Jong ("Fear of Flying: 40th anniversary edition"), Donna Tartt may have proved to be the star of the evening. The notoriously private author claimed that she rarely makes speeches, but it was an absolute gift to listen to her talk so passionately and fiercely about the one true thing that unites so many of us – the art of stories, writing, and literature. She brought the evening to a standstill with her allusion of books being dreams in which all readers can have a shared experience.

And, speaking of shared experiences, the week continued with even more grandeur. While a group of us somehow lunched at the same table as author Bill Bryson, another PPL librarian found her picture speaking with him on his Facebook page.

The fun didn't end at BEA. As I was leaving McCarter Theatre on Saturday night after a fantastic performance of Into the Woods, I found myself walking alongside Trey Anastasio, of Phish fame. I'll take collisions like this any day. In a town like Princeton, it's bound to happen.


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