Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Body of Works

Over breakfast this morning I ran across something in the NYT Sunday Style section that raised an eyebrow. In the Cultural Studies section, page eleven, Ms. Schuessler alluded to a statistic that only half of all American adults "report reading even one work of fiction, drama or poetry a year." Really? That prompted me to review my reading habits over this past year, which raised my other eyebrow. Though the list is not comprehensive and excludes the dramas and non-fiction I've been reading, the list tallies up to 22 works of fiction. This past weekend, at the Decatur Book Festival, I had the chance to spend nearly an hour listening to the author whose body of work comprises 41 percent of that list, Ms. Diana Gabaldon.

A dear friend of twenty-plus years, to whom I introduced Ms. Gabaldon's "Outlander" series nearly twenty years ago, came to town with her husband from North Carolina to attend Ms. Gabaldon's talk about "All Things Outlander." The weather was stunning, just gorgeous and we rode MARTA along with a crowd of high-spirited LSU fans (who outnumbered the UNC fans on our portion of the train). She and I were feeling a little bit giddy, too, I must admit, to the bemusement of our husbands. We waited in line, chatted about this and that, and were lucky enough to get good seats. Someone squealed when Ms. Gabaldon entered the sanctuary of Decatur Presbyterian Church and the lightheartedness of that greeting reigned throughout the author's appearance.

Ms. Gabaldon was a joy to watch - gracious, witty, erudite, polished, confident, engaging. My friend's husband, who'd slipped into the talk with my husband without our knowledge, described her as "very charming" and he has since begun reading her first novel, "Outlander."
I - we - had such a wonderful time Saturday afternoon. It is obvious that Ms. Gabaldon enjoys her work very much and gives it all the professional attention it deserves. It is also obvious that there is mutual admiration between her and her fans.

For myself I must borrow some lines from Will Shakespeare's Sonnet 136:
Among a number one is reckon'd none;
Then in the number let me pass untold,
Though in thy store's account I one must be.

[In case anyone is curious, my fiction list over the past year includes 7 works by Candice Proctor, 9 by Diana Gabaldon, 2 by Guy Gavriel Kay, and one each by Linda Buckley Archer, Earl Emerson, Boris Akunin, Kathy Reichs, and Mingmei Yip. ]

[[Photos: top - the author Diana Gabaldon speaking at Decatur Presbyterian Church, Sept. 4, 2010, by Barbara Butler McCoy; relief detail in the Five Points MARTA Station, 2010, Barbara Butler McCoy]]]

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