This spring, I was lucky enough to sit in on a memoir unit taught by Sean Wilsey, author of Oh the Glory of it All. It was a ridiculously fun four weeks, filled with unpublished essays by some of our best contemporary writers, hilarious anecdotes and lots of trying to figure out just what makes a memoir a memoir. Luckily, this all landed me a spot on Mr. Wilsey’s email list, so I got a heads-up about some pretty exciting upcoming events in support of his new book, an anthology called State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America. It’s a collection of essays by some very stellar writers, writing on the states they’re from, or live in, or were visiting for the first time. Anthony Bourdain did my home state of NJ! (Yes, I love him, I can’t help it). Joshua Ferris wrote Florida (I love him MORE). Jonathan Franzen wrote New York (I’ll reserve judgment…). Jhumpa Lahiri did Rhode Island, you get the idea. Powell’s, the bookstore in Portland, made a film to go along with the book. It’s being screened (for free) at NYU’s Cantor Film Center at 36 E. 8th St., theater 102, tomorrow night Sept. 18th at 7:00pm. Sean and his co-editor Matt Weiland will be there, as will several of the chapter writers, including Joshua Ferris, Will Blythe, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, Rick Moody, Charles Bock, Ellery Washington, and Myla Goldberg.
And me–I’ll be there.
Here’s the website with all the many other events, some of which are also in New York: http://www.statebystate.us
UPDATE: This event was awesome. If you get a chance to see the film, you definitely should–it was wonderful on a lot of levels. You get to see a lot of the writers from the book who undoubtedly won’t all be at the readings, and seeing them interact is really interesting. Dan and I were struck most by moments showing how much writers strive for community and lack in confidence. Some of them fretted that others had been funnier, some of them seemed to thrive being up on stage, some seemed terrified. Truly entertaining. The conversation after was pretty good, too. The assortment of writers was slightly different than the email promised, but it was a great assortment regardless.
Also, I was brave and talked to not only Sean but Matt Weiland, Myla Goldberg, Charles Bock, Rick Moody and Joshua Ferris and got them to sign my book. (AND JOSHUA FERRIS. Did you see that part? JOSHUA FERRIS.)