Last night we went to see “The Odyssey Bookshop and The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts present A Conversation with Stephen King and Richard Russo moderated by Joe Donahue, host of ‘The Roundtable‘ on WAMC” at the Chapin Auditorium at Mount Holyoke College. The event raised more than $18,000 for the Food Bank and the Odyssey—one of our great local(ish) bookshop—gave them a huge check which made everyone laugh. We also supported local coffee roaster Pierce Roasters (mm, cookies) as they were donating all monies to the Food Bank. Odyssey are celebrating their 45th anniversary, not bad! Next week Rosamond Purcell is coming and the week after it’s Amitav Ghosh. Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies is the next title in their First Edition Club, which has more than 250 members. Wow.
Anyway: King and Russo were great fun. There were 900 people and the mics were acting up so there was some technical (and other) monkeying around (as well as some spooky feedback), but for the most part it was two pros talking about writing and the writing life. They talked about novels vs. short stories (King’s new book is a collection, Just After Sunset) and about grounding work in the everyday details. Richard Russo (Bridge of Sighs just came out in pb) talked about something he’d been told, “You can’t jump from air to air,” which seemed to catch something right about writing. Joe Donahue (we will get one of our authors on that show!), the moderator, was very good, too. At the end he asked them a question he isn’t allowed to ask on public radio, “What’s your favorite curse word?” King talked about colloquialisms (“I wouldn’t give a tin shit for that”). Gales of laughter.
It was most excellent to see so many people at the reading. Both King and Russo signed books. The bookstore had numbered the tickets so that readers came up in blocks of 50. There are famously fast signers out there but Stephen King is up there with them, it took maybe an hour to reach our tickets, which were numbered in the 400s.