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Seeking inspiration from a master

February 2, 2010

I went into work early today, so I could leave early and catch an inbound train downtown.

I was headed for the library. The one on Van Buren and State.

One of my favorite authors, T. C. Boyle, was there tonight, as he calls it (aptly) performing.

I hadn’t seen him for 3 or 4 years I think?

Anyway – he read a short story from his new collection, and he was, as always, fabulous.

He looked great. He strode out in a bright red jacket and pants, a black and white t-shirt underneath, and the ever present high tops on his feet and ear cuff on his ear. Hair askew as it always is.

A little older, beginning to look just a tad wizened, but brilliant as ever.

Just the sight of him made me smile.

He was animated as he read, and his delivery and wit captivated his audience as it always does.

He made remarks that made us all laugh. He answered questions and stayed for a signing afterwards. I didn’t stay to get anything signed. I knew I was going to be home late enough as it was.

He was asked if any of his children read his works. He said that his sons had modems attached at the hip and never read. His daughter and her boyfriend make videos of his short stories.

He said they’d all been required to read The Tortilla Curtain in school, and because of who they were, they were expected to have some special insight. He said it wasn’t a problem, he’d helped them with their papers. LOL.

He was asked if he ever re-reads his own work – and he said he reads and re-reads till he’s finished with it – and then never reads them again.


He did say that once he was to appear at a venue where he’d be asked questions of an earlier work, so he took it on the plane with him and re-read it.

I went because I wanted to see him again. I went hoping to spark some inspiration in myself. I sat there and listened to him, and thought how wonderful it would be if, someday, I shook his hand as a literary colleague.

How sweet would that be?

I feel like I accomplished what I went for. As I returned to Union Station, there were homeless people everywhere, napping on benches and stairs. I thought – ‘there’s gotta be a story here somewhere..’

And I think maybe there is.

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