Hello West Tenthers, I hope you all had a fantastic break and have returned, well-rested and ready to take on finals…and the cold…and holiday-related stress…well, its looking pretty bleak but keep in mind that winter break is on its way.
Having missed Zadie Smith‘s NYU reading, a friend and I trekked to an uptown Barnes & Noble to see her read from her new collection, Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays. By this point, it’s probably obvious that I’m obsessed with venue, and I was acutely aware of the difference between this store at 86th and Lexington with downtown readings. A very quiet, much older crowd populated the room which (shocker) had seats to spare. But lest one think I’ve forgotten to keep it real, I assure y’all that I still very much need my village zest. While it was nice to actually get a seat, the proceedings lent themselves to a stuffy air. As Smith herself commented at hearing applause after her first reading, “you’re all so quiet…it terrifies me.”
The reading itself was nothing spectacular, but was quite pleasant, and even inspirational for burgeoning writers in the room. Zadie Smith was a force behind the podium; her charm came through in the wit and humor she displayed in her writing and in the Q&A session. (When one Australian fan asked how she liked living in the city, she responded that her favorite part was eavesdropping on the conversations of rarely-fazed New Yorkers). I would go see her speak again, but definitely at a fiction reading. Smith wanted to avoid “boring” us with literary critique and instead read part of a lecture she gave at Columbia and the prescient, considering the time of year, “Scenes from the Smith Family Christmas.” SFTSFC was a great essay but was first published all the way back in 2003. I feel it would be more fascinating to hear Smith at a current stage in her writing. Besides, if Smith’s literary critiques are on par with the rest of her work, I can safely assume it would not have bored us at all.
One a side note, we were informed before the reading that Smith’s appearance was being filmed for Barnes and Noble’s website. (It’s not up yet, but this is the site where it will eventually be posted). Please watch it, judge for yourselves! Until next time cool kids…