This evening at the Loussac Library in Anchorage, Title Wave Books and the Anchorage Daily News had none other than Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon in town as part of their new joint Book Club feature in the newspaper. The author of personal fave The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and the recently released New York Time's Best Seller The Yiddish Policeman's Union spoke to a much larger than usual Title Wave crowd. In fact, it was so big that it had to leave its original home at Title Wave due to fire code violations. No less, it was definitely another success for their program of bringing up big time national writers to little ol' Alaska, continuing in the string of previous successes such as David Sedaris, Jodi Picoult, and the hysterical John Sandford.
Chabon spoke candidly to the crowd for a very solid hour, going on to first take the audience through a little bit about himself and about his experience so far in Alaska, and then taking us into the creation of the concept behind Yiddish, which stemmed from the response of his laceration of a travelers phrase book called Say It in Yiddish in an essay he wrote. From there, he took us into a lengthy bit of the actual essay, which led into his reading of a section of the book. Entertaining, but run of the mill stuff overall, until Chabon went into Question and Answer, where he really shined. We learned of his lack of fluency in Yiddish (besides what he learned for the book and the words he and his wife use for their baby's body parts), why he chose Sitka (actually based in history, the Slattery Report was a proposal to move European refugees to one of four locations in Alaska, including the Matsu Valley and Sitka), and most entertainingly, whether or not the pie shop in Yiddish was in fact inspired by the pie shop in the Sitka Airport (It was).
In fact, his discussion about pie was fantastic, as he revealed to the audience that "You put (him) in a building with pie and (he'll) find it" and that the Sitka pie is so revered and famous, that when he was "walking around the miasma of the Seattle Airport, (he) was approached by a man who eagerly asked him 'is that a Sitka Pie'?" Came out a lot better from him, but it was a very entertaining story at the time (I swear!). As it stands to reason, the author came out the most in his ability to actually storytell, and when he got into that type of speaking it was far better. The main disappointment from the evening was the lack of any discussion about Kavalier and Clay, however, it just was not its' night. You have to appreciate a Pulitzer Prize winner who claims that the biggest influence on his writing (besides his religion) is his love for Genre writing. As a big fan of Genre fiction, it is great to hear someone well respected say that.
Two additional things for this evening's blog...I am totally weak, my favorite teacher EVER was at the Chabon event and I didn't even go say Hi. I suck at teacher. Oh well. Second off, check out this awesome video of Sufjan Stevens performing the Innocence Mission's "Lakes of Canada" on a rooftop in Cincinatti - as brought to you by another fellow Blogspotter, colorfully named "The Music Slut", by way of music video blog Lablogotheque. It's a wonderful video and song performed by one of the most talented men in music today.