I can't believe I saw Colm Toibin read last night. I can't believe I hadn't realized he'd be there at the Progressive Reading Series at the Makeout Room in San Francisco.
I was there to be part of the Six-Word Memoir slam, which happened half-way through the evening's event, which also featured Vendela Vida, Steve Almond, Michelle Orange and Charles D'Ambrosio.
What a fun, wacky venue. A huge crowd, standing room only.
And what a shock that someone who wrote one of my favorite novels of all time--The Master--was there. (The Master envisions the emotional life of Henry James. There are so many great moments in that book, like James getting into bed with Oliver Wendell Holmes. But it's really not sensationalist; it's a moving, insightful internal journey.)
Toibin read a provocative story from his new collection, Mothers and Sons. I'm sure I'll be buying that book and gobbling it up soon.
How can it be that I didn't even know about the Progressive Reading Series before last week? Upcoming readers include Amy Tan, Justin Chin, Jane Smiley, Pam Houston, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snickett), Po Bronson, Jonathan Franzen, Aimee Bender, David Glen Gold.
The cost to enter the venue ($10-20 sliding scale) supports progressive causes. Last night's focus was No on Proposition 98 and Yes on Proposition 99. If 98 passes in June, rent conrol will be wiped out in California. Toibin talked about how that happened in Dublin, which was devasating especially to the elderly on fixed incomes.
Loved the mix of politics and literature. I will be back.