Just back from a moving reading by Joan Didion from her book, The Year of Magical Thinking, as part of her visit to UNC for the Morgan Writer-in-Residence Program. I’d read the book earlier. Sally gave it to me for Christmas which when I think of it is quite a odd book to be given. At that time, Sam Garrard had not died. We hadn’t been on our New Year’s walk at which a man about 10 year older than me rushed up the steep hill and fell dead just before we caught up with him. Before our friend and neighbor, David Galinsky was struck down crossing a poorly lit highway. Didion’s book is just right. As she answered questions, one was why did you write the book? To write your way out of grief? “No, I wrote it because I had some news to give.”
After that and a few other exchanges, an aggitated nicely dressed man in his say early 60s bent over the question mic. He started: “Why did you read for a book that any of us could have bought and read for ourselves? Why didn’t you prepare a lecture? I came for a lecture.” (silence)
JD: “Because this is billed as a reading. I was asked to give a reading. So of course I read.” (applause)
Man: “No. It was to be a lecture. I read it was a lecture.” (hisses as he walked the length of the completely filled Memorial Hall and vanished — I think into the night.)
I think he got a lecture, but not as he expected it.
I did check the various publicity and everywhere it said “reading.” Occassionally the word “lecture” also appears. Some times, the word “speak” is used.
As we say down in this neck of the woods, that guy “must not be from around here” or “Where did he get his raisings.”