Paul Auster was at the book conference today, signing his newest novel, Sunset Park (which you should buy, and read). The line was surprisingly short -- I couldn't decide whether I was going to spend my entire 30-minute lunch break waiting to talk to him or just skip it and regret it for the rest of my life. Fortuitously, no choice needed to be made. He was perched on a high stool, looking particularly civil and caffeinated, in dark glasses, slicked-back hair, and every bit as rompy as one of his characters.
I asked if he was overloaded with books or if I could give him a copy of my book Candy in Action, which Soft Skull had just passed off to me. He said a pretty clear "overloaded," until his (handler? agent? mysterious female companion?) smiled graciously and said "I'll make sure he actually reads it" and slipped it from my hands. Then we talked about the comic he'd written that I'd read to my daughter the other day -- he cackled when he heard that. "She didn't get it at all, did she," he cackled. I said she understood it pretty well, but she was still checking for an invisible man behind her.
He said he didn't like the illustrations; I thought they were good, but strange, like smelling one thing and tasting another. Then he moved on. But it was pretty cool.
A minute later on the other side of the expo center, I ran into the Jewish Book Council crew. I was still bubbly about my new Auster book. Carolyn hooked into my arm: "Take us there," she commanded. I did. I stayed low because I'd had my moment and didn't want to spoil it, but I saw he still had my book sitting there. Naomi managed to snap a picture of Mr. Auster and my book, and there it sits above us in this post. If *ahem* when somebody makes it into a movie, I sincerely hope they cast Paul Auster as the shady character who gives Candy her missions. And that they pay him a million dollars to do it. I mean, it probably won't be as good as Smoke, but it will be a whole other kind of good. Unless they get Tom Waits to record the music too. Then it might be.
My new favorite photo ever from the Jewish Book Council blog, courtesy of Naomi and co. Thank you thank you.