Wally Lamb

December 5, 2008 at 6:15 pm | Posted in Book Blather, Rude Poetry | 6 Comments

We went to see Wally Lamb last night.  He’s adorable in person, clearly comfortable standing behind a lectern from his 25-year career as a high school teacher.  I bet he was everyone’s favorite, too.  He has kind eyes.  He’s funny, a very animated speaker, and sometimes one of his eyebrows goes up.  Not only did he read well, but he did character voices too.

One of the amazing things was that we brought a little trouble with us, and Lamb was a lamb about it.  We had a four-year-old with us, and she got a bit restless.  Suddenly she was sitting up at the front of the room, facing the audience, making panting sounds – nothing too out-of-control, and something I probably did all the time at that age.  The trouble was, she was sitting there flashing her knickers at the time.  You could see Wally Lamb glance slightly in her direction, but he kept talking without a hitch.  It was actually pretty funny.  (Naturally her mommy took her to the back of the room for the rest of the show).

I’ve been to a number of readings over the years, and I’m always interested in what sort of questions come out of the audience afterward.  We saw David Sedaris last month, and to my mind, almost every question the audience asked was inappropriate.  So I was pleased that the Lamb fans were perhaps of a higher echelon.  (Not to say anything negative in any way about Sedaris, just that if he wrote 800-page books he might eliminate the weaker links from his fan base).  One lady said she was a retired high school principal, and that she was impressed by how Lamb had captured the emotions of the teen students so well in reaction to the Columbine shooting that she wondered how he had done it.  He said he worked with teenagers for years, too.  Another lady asked about his emotional reaction to his own characters as he was writing.  He said that when he wrote, he became the characters, and so he felt what they felt.  Of course my summary could never attempt to do justice to his answers, which seemed quite candid and full of real detail.

When we clapped and cheered, Wally Lamb blushed a little and mouthed, “Thank you.  Thank you.”

Trish got her moment in the sun, too.  She got to ask the final question of the night, which you can read about here if you haven’t already.  Sadly, though, when it came time to get her picture taken, the bookstore employee clicked the button just as she was trying to explain how to use the camera.  You’d think they could have snapped a second courtesy shot, but no!  So she’s caught on film in mid-speech, in what must be the least flattering picture of a genuinely cute person that was ever taken, while Wally Lamb looks great.  I told her she should totally use PhotoShop to paste in a picture of herself from a different reading so that she looks, well, actually like herself.  I mean, she did meet him and all.

There once was a writer named Lamb

Who got in a bit of a jam.

A fan brought a child

Whose behavior was wild

And he wished he could ask her to scram.

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