Monday, June 26, 2017

A literary evening

Anyone who has stopped by here with any regularity over the past nine years knows I'm a reader.

As I've said before, I don't set goals about what I read. I just read whatever I might have heard about, or often, something Wife has passed on to me. She and I like most of the same things, although not always. She has never gotten into the Mitford series, which I love, and I'm not a fan of James Patterson (one of her guilty pleasure authors).

We both love John Grisham and we both have read all of his adult books. (I say "adult" because he has a children's series which we have not read.)

We love his legal thrillers and have also enjoyed when he has occasionally departed from that ("The Painted House," "Ford County," "Skipping Christmas" and his only non-fiction work, "Innocent Man.") We agree he is a master storyteller.

Grisham is sometimes slammed by literary critics who say he turns out books so fast that he compromises on quality.

And he's not losing any sleep over that . . . as he's laughing all the way to the bank. And maybe I'm just shallow, but his stories grab me from page one. There might be some I like better than others, but I am yet to read one that has not been a page turner for me.

Another favorite author of mine is Ann Patchett. A longtime Nashville resident, she's the author of such works as "Bel Canto," "Run" and, her book of essays, "This is the Story of a Happy Marriage," among others.

Ann gave the city of Nashville a huge gift a few years ago when she, along with a partner, opened Parnassus Bookstore, which has quickly become one of the more popular independent bookstores in the South. If you ever visit Nashville, and you're a reader, you definitely want to pay a visit to Parnassus.

And finally, I've become a fan of Jon Meacham, an author and historian who also now makes his home in Nashville. He is a former editor at Newsweek and contributor to Time, and today you can often catch him as a commentator on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." He's a Pulitzer Prize winner and his most recent work is "Destiny and Power," about the Bush family, and more specifically George H.W. Bush, which I included in my top non-fiction list of 2016.

And the reason I am writing about these three authors today is last week I had the unique opportunity to see and hear all three of them. Parnassus Bookstore hosted John Grisham as part of his first book tour in 25 years for his most recent, "Camino Island." It was a ticketed event, and the the cost of the ticket included a copy of the book and the opportunity to meet Grisham and have him sign the book. He was extremely gracious and I thoroughly enjoyed the 90 seconds or so I got to spend with him.

After the signing, the three authors conducted a panel discussion that lasted about an hour and 15 minutes. It was delightful, and I am glad one of my good friends, a fellow reader, talked me into springing for a ticket. It was a most enjoyable evening.

Below, from left to right, are Meacham, Grisham and Patchett. I almost cut Meacham out of the picture but I was taking it from my seat, with my phone of course, and there was a pole right in front of me. (I am no photographer!)



Kelly said...

What a wonderful opportunity!

I have enjoyed every Grisham book I've read (as has my husband). I still have a few of his in my TBR pile, but have confidence I'll get to them eventually.

Ann Patchett wrote the book club selection I'll be reviewing in July (we'll meet a week later due to the holiday on the 4th). I'll just let you wait until then for my thoughts on her. (or at least on that particular book)

I'm familiar with Meacham, but not read anything of his.

Bob said...

Which Ann Patchett book? There are still a number of hers I have not read.

Meacham's books are all non-fiction history, I believe, and he won the Pulitzer for the one on Andrew Jackson.

Ed said...

I read all the Jack Ryan series of Grisham books back before I gave up reading fiction and I always remember them as being gripping as well. I have also read Meacham's book on Jackson and have the one you mentioned about H.W. Bush on my list when I get up to him. (I'm reading biographies on all the presidents in order of presidency and the last one I read a year or so back was Meacham's on Jackson. I need to purchase the next half dozen or so to get them in my to-be-read pile.)

If I ever run out of non-fiction books that captivate my attention, I will return to fiction again but with my to-be-read pile growing much faster than I can read them, I don't foresee that happening in the next decade.

I would love to attend an event like what you wrote about but one of the disadvantages of living here in the poverty stricken sticks where reading doesn't happen much, it is author fly-by territory.

Bob said...

Thanks Ed. I believe the Jack Ryan books were written by Tom Clancy, not Grisham. I read a few of those too. You're actually ahead of me on Meacham but I intend to read the other ones.

There are advantages and disadvantages to rural and urban/suburban living. If I had unlimited resources, I would have my place in suburban Nashville but another place in the country for weekends and holidays. But alas, my resources are, in fact, limited.

Ed said...

Right you are. John Grisham writes the lawyer books and I've read probably a dozen of them back in the day as well. Runaway Jury and a Time to Kill come to mind off the top of my head.