Tonight is the first event for the new book, and I've spent most of the afternoon at home with curlers in my hair and cucumber circles on the eyes — prettying myself up for the big event, is the point. I did sneak out of the house this morning to head over to Big Think to talk about writing in a big-thinking sort of way. Everyone there was supremely nice, and I don't know if there's enough bank lights in the world to remove the green sleepless pallor I've been working on this week (and a special thank you to the guy who drove by blasting music out of his car at 5:30 a.m., it definitely didn't wake any of us). Anyway, in case something went horribly wrong and those videos end up hidden deep underground in the Big Think post-Armageddon seed bank, I'll provide you with a couple of the already posted examples so you get the idea. Here's Salman Rushdie on magical realism. And here's Edward Norton talking about his grandfather and urban planning.
In about four minutes I'm going to race over to the New York Public Library to bite my nails in a green room, as I wait to start my event with Sarah Jones... which is only theoretically an event with Sarah Jones. For those of you unfamiliar, Sarah Jones is the very unique, very brilliant Tony Award-winning actor-writer (though what she does really defies categorization) best known for the show Bridge and Tunnel or maybe, depending on how old your kids are, as Ms. Noodle on Sesame Street (and, as I type this, it dawns on me that, having done an event with Bill Irwin just recently, I will have, in the span of two weeks, had the good pleasure of spending time with both Mr. Noodle and Ms. Noodle, which is something to ponder). Anyway, the point is, Sarah transforms herself into many, many different people when she performs. And when I say "transforms," I mean, as best as my brain can process reality, she becomes them. When she turns into Lorraine Levine, an elderly Jewish woman, there is no one else in the room but Lorraine Levine. Sarah just up and disappears. It is something amazing to see. And the way Sarah Jones works with characters is — and this is what fascinates me about her process — exactly the way a fiction writer works.
OK, I'm late now. Hope this finds you all well. And if any good clips from tonight surface, maybe I'll post them here at some point down the line.
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Nathan Englander is the author of the novel The Ministry of Special Cases and the story collection For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, which earned him a PEN/Malamud Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction. His latest book is the story collection What We Talk About When We Talk about Anne Frank.
Books mentioned in this post
Nathan Englander is the author of What We Talk About When We Talk about Anne Frank: Stories