“I’m on fire/ On the playground, love”

Last Tuesday, I attended the first of this year’s Distinguished Visiting Writers Series at one of the local colleges, featuring author Jeffrey Eugenides.  He read an excerpt from his as-yet-untitled latest novel, which appeared in the June 7th New Yorker under the title “Extreme Solitude.” If you’ve had a college love affair of any kind, there’s a lot that’s familiar about the story.

After the reading, he took questions.  I was so glad I didn’t hear the types of questions I heard when his fellow Princeton colleague Joyce Carol Oates came to town.  Of course, this was an audience filled with writing students and teachers, so we were able to get past “Where do you get your ideas from?”  I was sure someone was going to ask him, in a slobbery voice, “How much input did you have when Sofia Coppola made The Virgin Suicides into a film?” or somesuch nonsense.  I’m so glad no one did.

On the upside, I managed to once again fight my fear of speaking to famous writers.  Of course, I was fighting it the entire time I was standing in line.  But in the end, it paid off.