Monday, July 27, 2015

There's Something About Mary (Doria Russell)

Earlier this year, Mary Doria Russell's latest book, Epitaph, was released. She was doing a book tour for it at the time and was scheduled to come through where I live...
But she got sick.
And cancelled her stop here.
And I really thought that was the end of it, because those kinds of things almost never get rescheduled especially when they're in smaller-ish cities and were free to begin with. But!
Being the cool person that she is, she rescheduled and showed up at our local book store earlier this month.

And that was pretty awesome because, now, I've met my top two favorite living traditionally published authors (the other being Neil Gaiman whom I met back in this post (and, yes, before I get any smart ass comments, I met him in that post; no, don't ask how that works; you wouldn't understand)).

Hmm... I'm not sure how I should refer to her. Mrs. Russell sounds too... I don't know. It's not that it sounds formal, exactly, but it sounds overly formal. But I can't just call her Mary. I mean, I'm pretty sure we're not on a first name basis. Well, anyway... She was a delight. Lively and exciting and an entertaining speaker. And you should all read her books.

Speaking of which, there were some interesting things about the event, things I don't really understand. First, my wife and I were almost the youngest people there (other than people who work at the book store), and that was really surprising to me. I mean, The Sparrow is science fiction (even if it's not shelved in the science fiction section of book stores (which, I guess, could be a problem)) so it, at least, ought to attract younger readers? I don't know. Maybe I just don't know how these things work.

Because, aside from the readers being on the older side, an awful lot of them seemed unfamiliar with Russell's work. Of the people that I spoke with, all of them were surprised that I've read all of Russell's books. To one woman I said, "There're only six," to which she seemed inordinately shocked. Like it was a huge deal that I had read six books. Of course, I speaking of that from a reading perspective, not a writing perspective. Six books is a lot to write, but I've read more than six books so far this summer, and the woman seemed to think six books should take, I don't know, years to read.

At any rate, it was an odd experience. When Gaiman was here, people I met and I talked about his various books and what we liked best, but I couldn't have that kind of conversation with the people at Russell's event because they were unfamiliar with the books. On the other hand, I got to tell them about what I like about her books and make recommendations about which ones to start with based on what they like.

Of course, The Sparrow is one of the three books on my list of books I think everyone should read.

My only regret about the event is that I couldn't remember where I'd put my first edition copy of Dreamers of the Day until afterward. You know, I put it away for "safekeeping," and I can never remember where anything I put away for safekeeping is when I need it. I did get my first edition of Epitaph signed along with my first edition paperback of Doc. Now, those are put away for "safekeeping," too. I hope that doesn't mean I'll never see them again. Of course, it doesn't! I did find Dreamers of the Day, after all; however, if there is ever any moment I want them, I won't remember where I've put them.

I've reviewed most of her books, so here are my links to the reviews:
The Sparrow
A Thread of Grace
Dreamers of the Day
Doc
Epitaph

Yes, I do know that I've left Children of God out, but I read it back before I was doing the whole blog thing, and I haven't re-read it since... a long time. Still, it's mentioned in some of the other reviews.

Look, if you consider yourself a serious reader, Mary Doria Russell is someone you should be reading. She does characters better than, maybe, any other author I've ever read (and, again, I read a lot). To try to put this in perspective, Dreamers of the Day is not my favorite of her books, but her depiction of T. E. Lawrence (you know, Lawrence of Arabia) is so strong and has hung with me so much that I'm reading his Seven Pillars of Wisdom. And Doc feels like you're walking down the dusty streets of Dodge City right along with Holliday and Earp.

Just sayin'.

20 comments:

  1. I'm not impressed you read six books. I'm just impressed you're smiling in that picture. I feel like this is the only existing picture of you on the Internet where you're actually smiling. That's how you KNOW you had a good time.

    I'll admit, I'm one of those youngins that had no idea who she was prior to this. Consider The Sparrow added to my reading list. Unless you'd recommend I start with something else. I'm young and impressionable like that (not really). Also, my reading list is getting manageable now and I'm sick of reading the same kinds of things over and over again.

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    1. ABftS: I'm not impressed I read six books, either, especially since my usual thought is that I'm not reading enough books.

      Start with The Sparrow.

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  2. Awesome that she came back and you got to meet her.

    I agree: The Sparrow is a book everyone should read. I liked Children of God, but just not as much. I haven't read her other stuff because I'm not really into biographies/historical fiction. I tend to like that stuff when it focuses less on the person and more on events/things. Like "Longitude" or "Nathaniel's Nutmeg." That type of stuff.

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    1. Briane: Try Epitaph, then. Or Dreamers of the Day. Actually, you should try Dreamers.

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  3. What Brandon and Bryan said about you smiling!
    Odd that no one had read her books. Why were they there then?

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    1. Alex C: I don't know? Unless this same group of people just goes to all of the author events at the book store. They schedule a lot of them through the summer. I only look at going to ones with authors I like, but, maybe, there are people who just go to them no matter what.

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  4. I'm one of those who have not heard of this author, but that's not too unusual for me. Maybe I've heard of her and just don't remember.

    I don't recall ever having met a somewhat renown traditionally published author. In fact I don't think I've ever even gone to a book signing. I don't get out much unless it's traveling across country.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Lee: I know you've heard of her, because you've commented on some of the reviews I've done.

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    2. And such is my memory. I'll probably have to be reintroduced to my wife when she joins me in NJ next week.

      Lee
      Tossing It Out

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    3. Lee: Hey, but that could be a great experience. Fall in love all over again and all of that, right?

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  5. I read The Sparrow last year... and it's... heavy. I think that may be why it doesn't appeal to younger readers? But how young are the people you were expecting to see there? I wouldn't call myself young... young-ish, I guess...

    Also, you're smiling in your "About Me" profile pic, so pah. I'm glad you got to meet another of your favorite authors. I've never met Gaiman, but I heard him do a reading a couple of years ago. Pretty cool.

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    1. Elisabeth: It is a heavy book. I'm sure that's why I like it so much. It's not a happily ever after thing at all.

      I wasn't expecting any particular age; I just wasn't expecting to be the lower edge of it.

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  6. That must have been so awesome. I remember your review of Doc piquing my interest, so I'll definitely have to check out her other works. I can't believe that woman was surprised you read six books, unless it was six books in one day. And start leaving notes where you put things for safekeeping, just to avoid missing anymore opportunities.

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    1. Jeanne: I've never read more than one novel in one day.

      I'd make notes, but I'd just lose those, too.

      Delete
  7. Very cool that you got to meet her. She looks the sort who wouldn't mind if you called her Mary.

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    1. TAS: Yeah, but I'd hate to be presumptuous.

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  8. It's such fun to meet authors you admire. Favorite Young Man took me to see Pat Conroy. He spoke at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. He was hilarious. Then he signed books and had his photo taken with anybody who wanted it. He's the nicest celebrity I've met--not that I've met many. I saw an interview in-person with Joyce Carol Oates. She was interesting, but she's also one of the skinniest people I've ever seen. I figured that not taking time to eat allows her to be such a prolific author. I'm Facebook friends with Joyce Maynard, who is very cool and nice.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Janie: Nicest celebrity I ever met? Hmm... Probably Geoff Moore.
      I should tell that story some day.

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    2. You should definitely tell that story because I don't know who that is. Enlighten me. Please.

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    3. Janie: I'll work it into my line up.

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