Thursday, June 4, 2009

Events with Adrian Tomine, Seth, and China Mieville

It's been a busy week of readings in literary Cambridge.

Tuesday night a friend and I attended a double reading at the Brattle Theater, hosted by the wonderful Harvard Book Store and starring graphic novel creators Adrian Tomine and Seth, of Shortcomings and It's a Good Life if You Don't Weaken respectively. Each man took a turn at the podium, telling stories and sharing insights into the comics world.

I particularly enjoyed Seth's "twelve stories" format, with a random display of sketches and pictures running behind him on the movie screen as he told a series of anecdotes about his life and career, punctuated by little bell rings. He started with his childhood spent creating his own superhero universe in notebooks kept hidden from everyone until he showed them to an art school admissions officer- and got in. Then he moved on to art school, career and more.

Then last night the same friend and I took our husbands to see China Mieville, whose new novel The City and The City came out recently. (Click on the title for my review. Spoiler alert! I loved it.) This event was also sponsored by Harvard Book Store. First I got to meet Heather, the events coordinator from the store; as an added bonus, she quoted from my review as she introduced Mieville.

Mieville was fantastic. The reading itself was brief; as I have already said in my review, what makes the novel is the process of uncovering it. Cognizant of that as the author, he didn't want to give too much away, and moved on pretty quickly to the Q&A.

The questions were very good; the audience was both smart and very familiar with his work. He talked about everything from his creative process to politics to funny band names. One particularly bright audience member, to whom I happen to be married, asked Mr. Mieville about his process as a writer; as someone who frequently sets his stories in invented cities, did he start with the story or the city? The city, Mr. Mieville answered, quite definitively. He starts with the city and builds the story up from there. Given the nature of the city in his latest novel, it's difficult to imagine it any other way!

Of course the highlight of the evening was the signing and the opportunity to gush to the man himself about how much I enjoyed The City and The City.

But how pleasantly surprised was I when Mr. Mieville gushed to me when I asked him to sign my book with my blog name! He shook my hand and said he read my blog and thought it was really good- wow! It was very sweet of him to say that and just absolutely made my entire day- possibly my entire week!