April 6, 2011

Restraining Order

I recently read John Warner's review of Kate Atkinson's most recent book, Started Early, Took My Dog. In said review, he calls himself a, "posters-on-the-wall, commemorative-magazine-with-exclusive-trading-cards fanboy of Ms. Atkinson’s books." I then spent half an hour googling Mr. Warner in an attempt to find out if he's single. 

You see, I am a posters-on-the-wall etc etc fan of Kate Atkinson. If required to produce my most embarrassing experience ever, I'd be hard pressed to come up with something more humiliating than the time I met her (though an incident in a high school gym class would put up a good fight). She came to a local independent bookstore when her book One Good Turn came out. I went, dragging a friend. I agonized over what to wear. A formal suit? Something casual? A clever t-shirt? I settled on the suit. In hindsight, this was probably a mistake, as I think it made my craziness more of an unexpected shock. 

I read Kate Atkinson's second novel, Human Croquet, when I was a freshman in high school. It changed my life. Too dramatic? I'm sure that's what Ms. Atkinson thought when I told her. But seriously. It was the first modular book I'd ever read. It took place in England. Much of it took place in a forest. It mentioned doppelgangers. It blew my mind.

Kate Atkinson's first few works were the slow unraveling of multi-generational family history. The events were dramatic, but the writing was indifferent—an accomplishment I found fascinating. Then, in a brilliant move, Ms. Atkinson took her talent for writing slowly unfolding family mysteries and began writing novels featuring a detective as the main character.

Even now, it would be too painful to relive many of the details of my terrifically awkward interaction with her. Manic laughter. Presenting a giant pile of books to be signed. Explaining excitedly that I'm currently reading one of her books. Pulling it out of my purse to show her. Talking about how I have a marked up copy of Human Croquet at home, but I brought the British version I got off ebay for her to sign because that's the version the library provided me with when I was 14 and I like the cover better anyway.

Eventually, she started backing away from me. The same way I'm going to back away from this blog post.

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