Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bill Bryson!

Bill Bryson, Bill Bryson, Bill Bryson, Bill Bryson!

I don't think I've mentioned recently just how much I love my job. Or my sales reps. Because right now I'm bursting with love for bofe 'em.

Bill Bryson, Bill Bryson, Bill Bryson, Bill Bryson.

You might have guessed, but I just got to meet Bill Bryson. There has been exactly one other author I have been this excited to meet, and he happened to write the best book I've read in the last decade (Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone. Read it, y'all!), and I definitely went all fan-girl on him the two times our paths crossed. But Bill Bryson is in a different category all together. For starters, he's one of the few authors of whom I can say I've read all of his or her published works (And I mean an actual body of work, smartass. John Kennedy Toole and other one-hit wonders most emphatically do not count), and I'm such a Bryson-completist that I include his reference books, too. Yup, read every word.

I have also listened to many of his published works, and because he is the reader of his audio books, I've listened to him for hundreds of hours. His voice is as familiar to me as my own brother's. He's like a friend whose humor has seen me through the years, both the high times and the rough patches. I bought In a Sunburned Country, A Walk in the Woods, and Neither Here Nor There on tape. I listened to all of them so many times that the tape wore through in several places. Then I replaced them with CD versions and kept on listening.

On Sunday I drove to Arlington, MA, with my devoted and long-suffering husband to meet Bill Bryson, who was signing books at the New England Independent Booksellers Association (NEIBA) office in Arlington, MA. One of my sales reps from Random House, Ann Kingman, arranged for Bryson to sign books for her accounts. So I got to take the day off work and go for a Sunday drive on a beautiful day with my favorite person in the world to meet one of my favorite writers in the world. The phrase "walking on sunshine" comes to mind.

Bryson was in the region promoting his new book, At Home: A Short History of Private Life, which I've already blogged about twice. You can read those posts on my personal blog, As the Crowe Flies and Reads (you can also see the photos I made of him during my visit). The book is marvelous and funny and erudite and everything else that I like about his writing.

May I confess something? Before I moved from Mississippi to New England to live with the man who became my husband, I wrote up an extensive pro and con list. My husband knows that one of the "cons" was that I would no longer be able to watch episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as they aired because he didn't have access to the UPN network. But what he doesn't know is that one of the "pros" is that I would be more likely to have the chance to meet Bill Bryson, who lived in New Hampshire at the time. So you could say that Mr. Bryson is one of the reasons I moved to New England. I'm just not revealing exactly what position he had on my "pro" list.

Mr. Bryson was also kind enough to sign and inscribe my personal collection of his works, or at least those books still holding together without tape. I thought it might be unseemly (though a compliment of the highest order) to bring him my copy of In a Sunburned Country that was in two pieces. Or my copy of A Walk in the Woods, which one of my dogs enjoyed as much as I did.

Bill Bryson, Bill Bryson, Bill Bryson, Bill Bryson!

~Emily Crowe


Kitchen Ninja said...

Love love love this, Emily! I just had a similar star-struck, hero-worship moment with John Irving. I was all set to drive to S. Hadley to hear him this week when he showed up, last-minute, to do the same reading here in Burlington, VT last week. I got to the reading RIDICULOUSLY early, took copious photos, practically bounced around with joy in my seat, and just kept shouting "IT WAS SO AWESOME! HE IS SO AWESOME!" into the phone at my husband as I drove home.

Congrats on checking one off your bucket list!

The Odyssey Bookshop said...

THanks for the comment, Kitchen Ninja! I agree--John Irving does some pretty nifty readings. Glad you were able to catch him up north, though I'm sorry not to have seen you and made your acquaintance.


Maggie E. said...

I saw Bill Bryson speak that night, and it was truly delightful and hilarious. I loved every second of it. I wonder if either of you happen to know if John Irving and Bill Bryon know each other. I'm sad I didn't ask. They both from Iowa, both moved to New Hampshire during different points and both incorporate those two areas in their writing. It crossed my mind last night, and while I was trying to figure it out, this blog popped up. Let me know if either of you happen to know.

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

Maggie, I have no idea whether Mr. Bryson and Mr. Irving know each other or not. If you ever find out, please come back here to let us know! Until you left that comment, I didn't know that Irving wasn't from New England.