Weird crop because I flew to the WGA Theater straight from work (Downtown to Beverly Hills during rush hour...not fun) inhaling food in the car. Until I saw the picture I did not realize that ice cream, coffee and a wee bit of bun were visible in my teeth and huge gums! How embarrasing! So it goes.
It didn't look like Gladwell's sold-out-in-minutes talk for Writers Bloc was being recorded. That's a tragedy in part because when he goes on tour he doesn't come to LA, but mainly because this was a brilliant, hilarious, informative, inspiring chat. It was like an 1:15 monologue with occasional input from the moderator. He talked about the nuances of cheating; his parents and their obsession with tea; lots of fantastic detail about a giant sports-but-not-really story he's working on right now for the New Yorker, the different threads it could take and how he researches/works (this was some of the funniest stuff of the talk..that and the backstory behind "The Howl of the Doomed," the story he did about the dog on death row back when he was in the daily j-buiz); IQs and how, at a certain point they don't matter; and so very much more. Bits of it was like listening to Eddie Izzard jump around and then stitch it all together at the end.
A while back I raved about how phenomenally good Richard Price is at reading. Since then, any author reading/talk I go to or come across is judged on a scale of 1 to Richard Price. Gladwell's talk was a Richard Price. Turns out he's not just an outstanding nonfiction storyteller on the page, he can sit there and run his mouth without flagging in entertainment or quality of content. A few highlights:
- He works on multiple things at once. "It's like O'Hare" with one plane on the runway, another on the tarmac, one being refueled and another over there being de-iced.
- It can take him years to research & write a big piece. He's kinda OCD about the smaller pieces, too; right now he's on the seventh draft of a book review for the New Yorker.
- He hardly ever updates the blog because "people are mean" & the blog was swamped with comments. And also because a friend of his asked him why on earth he was writing for free when he didn't enjoy that particular type of writing, which was contextualized with discussion of the type of giant writing he does for the magazine verses the type of writing that works best on a blog. Interesting.
- Nobody got what he was trying to do with Blink. Once he was done explaining it, I wasn't the only one in the room thinking dude, *totally* didn't read it that way.
Here are some other picts. Lots of them, so click to enlarge.
Got this one, and another for the hobby site.
Here he is with Andrea Grossman, the founder of Writers Bloc. Unfortunately my superpower of taking a picture at the *precise* moment of blinking was in full effect. Every picture I snapped of the two of them? She's blinking! WB is an independent reading series here and one of the jewels of The Silver City. In her intro, Grossman mentioned that Gladwell specifically told his publishers to make WB the host of his LA stop. The books were provided by Book Soup, an independent retailer.
They sold a lot of books. This lady, I just loved her belt and top and she had a fabulous smile, so I had to take a picture.
At the end of the event, I'm idling in the long line of the parking garage and I notice Gladwell walking down the ramp into the garage. Why he was doing this I have no idea...I thought the limo out front was his ride.
So I took a moment to offer advice from the open window of my car, using my I Do Renaissance Faire And I Can Make This Voice Heard From One End Of A 14-Acre Site To The Other:
Me: Malcolm! Just shut off the comments to your blog! That's how the rest of us do it! Gladwell: <laughing> Okay! Thank you.
He's probably gonna go right on mostly ignoring his blog, though. Oh well! I tried!