An Evening with Jess Walter
Posted by toothy
If you spent any time on my blog at all, you know how much I LOVE Jess Walter and how I can’t get enough of his books. So you can only imagine my excitement when I found out he was coming to Houston. I made sure to keep March 20 clear and I even passed up a trip to Las Vegas during my spring break to stay in Houston because I wasn’t sure if he was ever going to come back and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to meet him. With that said, it was completely worth it! I’ve actually never been to an author reading/signing event before and I’m really glad it was Jess Walter that inducted me to it and took my author event virginity.
He started the event by reading a short story from his new book, We Live in Water. And while I just recently read that story a few weeks ago, it felt refreshing and hilarious to hear it again coming from him. He followed that up by reading an excerpt from his recent novel, Beautiful Ruins, and a poem from, The Financial Lives of the Poets. Hearing him read the poem made me want to read that book again. It’s been a while since I’ve read it and I honestly forgot how funny it was and how much I enjoyed it.
My favorite part of the evening though was the Q&A part because not only is he as hilarious in real life as he is through his books, but it was also insightful to hear stories about his life. It gave me a new perspective on where he came from and how his work turned out the way they do. Take for example, his latest book, We Live in Water, which is a collection of short stories that to some are stories about scary deadbeats, but to Jess Walter are characters that share resemblances to his cousins. He told us that he wanted to write stories about the people we drive and don’t really look at and as I sat there and mentally went over the stories in We Live in Water, I realized how completely right he was—you have the homeless guy, the convict doing community service on the side of the road, the meth addicts, the gambler, the newspaper editor, etc. They’re all characters that we’ve probably ran into at one point or another in our lives and they’re all characters that have finally managed to hit rock bottom. He’s a great person to talk to and is just simply entertaining. I think I could have sat there and listen to him talk all night with a goofy grin on my face.
I didn’t think I could love the man anymore going into this event, and yet when I was walking out that door I was brimming with excitement and couldn’t believe how amazing and awesome Jess Walter is in real life. If you ever get the chance to attend one of his events I would highly recommend it. Besides, how can you not like a guy that signs your tooth?