On January 10, I went to hear George Saunders read at Greenlight Bookstore. Though it took place just days into 2013, it seemed like the literary event of the year, with more than 200 (maybe more than 400?) fans in attendance.
The night made me feel a mix of things:
- Happy that so many people were hanging out at an indie bookstore
- Confused - Even though we were warned that Saunders would only read for a few minutes, I wasn’t prepared for how little he actually spoke. Would people really rather have an author’s signature over an author’s anecdotes? Like Tim Riggins, I’m invested in collecting memories.
- Endlessly curious about Susan Sarandon’s presence
Three years ago, during The New Yorker Festival, I ended up sitting behind Susan Sarandon at the George Saunders/Gary Shteyngart reading. (Saunders gave the best reading I’ve ever heard, and Sarandon told her friend about her daughter’s “phenomenal” television sex scene.)
I assumed it was a one-time thing, but there was Susan Sarandon again, standing discreetly in a corner of the bookstore. Is Susan Sarandon, like the rest of the world, simply a fan of George Saunders’s writing? Is Susan Sarandon trying to keep up with the hip, what with the ping pong and young boyfriends and literary events? Is Susan Sarandon in charge of what is hip?
It’s a great mystery to me, but two things are certain: George Saunders seems like the nicest man and Susan Sarandon always looks good.