I was in the same room as one of my favorite authors today.
Bill Bryson. He spoke at a session at the Boston Book Festival today. Not only do I love his writing, but I wistfully admire that the man has spent a sizable chunk of his life in my home country: England. I think the first book of his that I read was Notes from a Small Island. He grew up in Des Moines, but on a backpacking trip after college, he fell in love with England. And at some point fell in love with an English woman. So they lived in England for about 20 years. They decided to move to the States at some point, and before they moved he took one last trip around Britain, the story of which became Notes.
I think they lived in the States for about a decade, and then decided to move back to England. They now live in a former rectory in a village called Wramplingham.
At the session today, he read from his newest book, At Home. When they moved to the rectory, he started thinking about everyday things around the house, and wondered about their history. So in the new book, he goes from room to room and tells all kinds of quirky historical stories. I can’t wait to read it. He makes me laugh out loud.
I was hoping he would chat a bit off the cuff today, but time kind of ran out. He shared the stage with Tony Hiss, who I’d never heard of. But now I want to read his new book, In Motion. He talked about his concept of “deep travel”…which kind of sounded like working on being present in the moment. Whether you’re in Timbuktu or the shop around the corner from your house.
I also saw an interesting panel about memoir writing, with Jerald Walker, Marianne Leone, and Nick Flynn. It was fascinating, actually. And now I want to read all their books. Especially Nick Flynn’s Another Bullshit Night in Suck City.