Ah, now for Saturday. As I mentioned, part of the CAMEX trade show festivities is a book and author breakfast. This year's event included five very talented writers: Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love; Gary Moore, author of Playing With the Enemy; Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food; Jim Sheeler, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of The Final Salute; and Michael Chabon, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.
We met up with all five authors in the lobby of the hotel, where I pestered a couple for autographs and photos:
And then we walked over to the convention center for the event. Breakfast was served before the authors began speaking and Gary Moore took that opportunity to "work the crowd." He was asked if he was running for office or something and he replied that "no, [he was] the least known author of the bunch," so he was out building a fan base before they got started.
Elizabeth Gilbert led the speakers and was very funny, a definite hit with the audience. She shared her story of how, after publishing Eat, Pray, Love, people were asking her for relationship advice...she being the person who failed miserably in her own relationship. One fan even asked her at a book signing if she (the fan) should get a divorce.
Next up was Gary Moore. He followed Elizabeth's lead and kept the audience laughing as well. In addition, he shared a moving story of a federal judge who contacted Gary to share how Playing With the Enemy changed the way he saw himself in the mirror every day. And I think that story brought to light for a great many people the fact that they do focus on their failures and often neglect to see their greatest accomplishments.
Gary was followed by Michael Pollan who shared with the audience his story of how he came to write about food. He didn't start out writing about food, but instead found it so integrally connected that food is where he ended up. Michael also pointed out that choosing what we eat is essentially our first "voting" experience. We vote with our forks. An interesting tidbit from Michael's presentation was the fact that almost universally, everyone has the same head shake to indicate "no" and it likely comes from infancy where babies close their mouths and shake their heads to indicate they don't want to eat something.
Jim Sheeler stepped to the podium next and his topic couldn't help but leave the audience in tears. He shared slides and audio of people he followed and interviewed for his book, The Final Salute. Jim followed along with a Marine whose job it was to inform family members of the loss of their military loved ones. What an incredible tribute this young man has written in an effort to make sure people stop, look, and don't forget the sacrifices these military men and women have made for all Americans.
While the audience were drying their eyes, Michael Chabon found his way to the podium to end the program. This versatile, dynamic writer is the winner of not only a Pulitzer Prize, but also an O.Henry, a Hugo, and a Nebula Award. He shared a little about how his first work of non-fiction, Maps and Legends, came to fruition and how the proceeds from Maps and Legends are going to a great organization called 826 International. THEN he read an essay from Maps and Legends. Most of the time, an author reading his/her work results in a scary product. Not with Michael Chabon. His reading was amazing. I was enraptured and could have listened to him read for hours. Of course it helped that the essay was phenomenal, but I think he could enthrall people reading the phone book - his voice, his energy, his charisma. Now I will hear that any time I read his work, and I will be reading quite a bit of it!
As I hope you can tell from my summary here, the event was a great success. All five authors did a tremendous job, and I for one was over the moon to have been able to experience it.