So you know how it is when you go and hear an author read, and then afterwards you go and queue, you buy their new book and take it to them to sign? Well tonight, I had the immense pleasure of not only receiving something from Famous Author, but also handing over a copy of The White Road to her!
Famous Author is Rebecca Goldstein, a wonderful American writer of science- and philosophy-inspired short stories and novels such as The Mind-Body Problem, who in 2006 awarded me 2nd prize in the Entelechy Journal's Biofiction contest for my story, My Name is Henry. So, when it came to that wondrous and fairly stressful time for me to find endorsements (aka blurbs) for my own book, I thought, Well, she liked one story, maybe she'll like the rest?
Thankfully, she did, or anyway was incredibly generous enough to shower me with lovely words to put on the book:
"Tania Hershman's very short stories manage to pack the punch of fiction many times longer. Her strategy is highly original, consistently interesting, and astonishingly moving. Joining the impersonal facts of scientific research with our human fragility, complexity and tragedy, Hershman extracts poignancy out of the laws of nature."I remember being very moved when she sent me that endorsement. So when I heard she was coming to Bristol, with her husband Steven Pinker, the rather Famous Scientist and Science Writer who I am also a great fan of, to talk about her new book, 36 Arguments for the Existence of God (a novel), my first thought was that I would be able to present her with a copy of my book to thank her in person.
The talk was very interesting, Steven was interviewing her, and oddly he wasn't actually introduced by the Bristol Festival of Ideas person, which was strange. But it was a very highbrow discussion about God, morality, religion, atheism, etc... And Rebecca read from the beginning of the book, her usual gorgeous mix of lyrical prose with extremely thought-provoking philosophical ideas. One of the characters in the book is apparently a maths prodigy, which, of course, thrills me even more! (I will be blogging on the Jewish Book Week blog shortly about Sunday's talk by celebrity mathematician Marcus do Sautoy - which made me go all wobbly with delight.)
I got a little nervous in the queue. How would I present myself? Rebecca had sent out a mass email to people announcing her new book - I'd been thrilled to be on that list - and so I had taken that chance to "warn" her that I'd be accosting her in Bristol. But still.... I clutched my slim little volume, and purchased her large, hardbacked one. James struck up a conversation with the woman from the publishers who was making sure no-one got too close... just to make sure I wouldn't be hustled away!
She was, of course, charming! Made out like she knew exactly who I was, was delighted to have the book, even said something about having something new to read... even though she's read the stories before. And then we walked home, me feeling all warm and fuzzy.
So thank you Rebecca Goldstein, for being so generous to a fledgling writer, taking the time to make me feel that I could do it too. And for writing wonderful books that keep on inspiring, the kind of books that, along with great stories, challenge readers and make us think, even make us look up words, rather than allowing our brains to atrophy. If you haven't read anything by her, you should rectify that at once. This Girl Author is going to bed happy.