Sunday, March 2, 2014

Author Elizabeth Strout at the Wortham, Or Why It Sometimes Doesn't Help to Take (Even) Three Photos of Where You Parked

Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3

Surreptitiously photograph author Elizabeth Strout at the Wortham

Document hour I spend wandering the Houston downtown tunnels in search of my car

I decide to drive into Houston after a long day at work last Monday to hear author Elizabeth Strout read from her new book, The Burgess Boys. I am only a third of the way through the book (and I, frankly, am considering calling a halt to the whole just isn't as good as Olive Kitteridge, I think) but I'd bought a ticket, so what-the-hey. 

Part of the appeal is that Strout will be interviewed after the reading by Houston author Katherine Center. I am curious about her, too.

What do I come away with?

1. Strout is a self-taught writer. "I read and I wrote. I read and I wrote. I read and I wrote."

2. Strout is disorganized. But seems to help her write. "I like a mess. I've always liked a mess."

3. Strout likes happily-ever-afters. "I consider myself a very happy ender. And its something I’ve worried about, that maybe I have cheapened my work. But I’ve realized it’s OK because it’s not false. The endings come organically; I don’t just stick a happy ending on. As much as I see the darkness in life, I’m a real believer in (life)."* 

4. An HBO four-part mini-series of Olive Kitteridge is in development.

5. And, finally, even if I park my car in my own garage, I will have trouble finding it. I take three photos of where I park, but, nevertheless spend an hour wandering the Houston downtown tunnels in search of my car. 

P.S. I did find my car. It's good to know there are some lovely garage attendants who will oh-so-kindly drive you around (and around...and around) the garage until you locate your vehicle.

P.P.S. I did finish The Burgess Boys. Happily. No, not quite as amazing as Olive, but pretty close.

*From an interview in the March 2, 2014 Houston Chronicle with Maggie Galehouse

What is the Sunday SalonImagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them,and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....

That's what happens at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book. Click here to join the Salon.


  1. Oh my... I harbor the fear of parking my car in an underground lot and never finding it again. Glad to hear there are kind attendants who are willing to help :)

  2. The tunnels are more than six miles long. You can see why I was worried.

  3. I have Olive Kitteridge on my Nook but haven't read it yet. I'll have to get to it before the miniseries starts.

  4. I can totally relate to your parking fears, I once panicked and thought my car was stolen in a Kohl's parking lot, but I had just exited from a different door. I wasn't a huge fan of The Burgess Boys, but I still haven't read Olive Kitteridge.

  5. Oh, I have so much trouble finding my car in those parking garages, too! Even in just an ordinary lot...LOL.

    Sounds like a great event, and I enjoy Katherine Center, too. Haven't yet read Strout. Not even Olive Kitteridge.

    Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

  6. I probably liked OK so much because (1) OK is a former teacher, and (2) it takes place in a small town.

  7. I'm going to see an author this week (Sherman Alexie) so might have to try the surreptitious photo thing too. :) I like how you documented this...hope the parking where we're going isn't as complicated. Fingers crossed.

  8. The moderator asked us not to take unauthorized photos. I authorized myself to take one. Surreptitiously.

  9. LOl.. The way your described looking for a car is funny. I agree, losing a car is not funny when it happens to you.

  10. All the people attending author readings apparently have tiny silver cars. This makes finding one's car very tricky.

  11. Talk about a memorable experience :)
    Happy reading!

    My Weekly Recap:

  12. I was glad to see your final view on Burgess Boys. I do not rate it as highly as I did Olive K., but if I'd never read Olive I would have been singing praises for Burgess Boys.

    Olive was a very high bar to jump over twice in a row.

    BTW. I always park with a view of something, even it's only one of those where are you signs. I often forget where the care is parked but I remember the view.

  13. I agree with you completely about BB and OK.

    And thanks for the parking tip.

  14. I have Olive Kitteridge on my e-reader to read. It looks good.

    I have the same parking fears.

    Have a great week!

  15. I have occasionally been known to, um, take the "long way" to my car in those parking garages. Hate when that happens...

  16. Oh I like Strout. That's very cool you got to hear her read. I liked both Olive and Burgess Boys. She's an excellent author. Here's what I wrote about the Burgess Boys

  17. Wow, I can't imagine how frantic and annoyed you would have been after an hour! I've started taking photos at times when parking in huge places, but haven't had the photos fail (yet).

    I don't know why they tell you not to take photos in events like this. What harm did your authorised photo do? It can be disturbing if people take continual photos or film the whole thing, but otherwise what is the problem?

  18. I'd be curious to know why photos aren't allowed either. I suspect it is part of the agreement with InPrint to bring the author to Houston. I suppose there are always people who are eager to sell photos of celebrities and maybe that even extends into the book world. I always ask permission (well, when it's possible to ask) before I take a photo of an author and I've never been refused.


I hope you will leave a comment so I know you have visited. If you stop by my blog, I will always stop by yours.

Note: Disqus commenting is only available on the web version of the blog. Please switch to the web version if you are using a mobile device.