Thursday, March 25, 2010

Nominated for Best Book Presentation: Chris Bohjalian, SECRETS OF EDEN

No, there isn't really a contest to which I can nominate Chris Bohjalian for his gifted and lively book presentations ... which is a shame, because he provides a highly entertaining evening full of insight into his work, his current and upcoming books, his travels, and life as a Vermonter out in public. I caught his event at Montpelier's Bear Pond Books earlier this week. Here are some tidbits from the evening:

*SECRETS OF EDEN really began in 1997, in the midst of research for THE LAW OF SIMILARS, when a victim's rights advocate showed Bohjalian photos of the indents left by a woman's head colliding with sheetrock on a wall. See his web site for more details like this one!

*It almost got lost entirely when Bohjalian's 2001 book tour stranded him in a hotel room in Denver for seven days, meticulously working on the book each day, but unable to face it (and the attached sense of claustrophobia) when he got back to Vermont. Kudos to this persistent writer for getting back, years later, to the sense that he needed to write a novel portraying the horrors of domestic violence.

*THE DOUBLE BIND brought Bohjalian e-mails from women all over, convinced that they must have met him at some point, because the story he told was so close to what they had experienced. (That one deals with a sexual attack.)

*Seven of the characters in THE DOUBLE BIND were named as a result of fundraising auctions for nonprofits; BEFORE YOU KNOW KINDNESS has three of these.

*In SECRETS OF EDEN, Bohjalian felt that the angels component offered a good counterpoint to the icy and impersonal character of the book's first narrator (and soon lead suspect), the Rev. Stephen Drew.

I'm not going to tell you about the "templates" he described, or his writing routine, or the way he uses two desks. Some things are best heard in person. So try really, really hard to get to a Bohjalian book event. Here's a link to his tour.

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