Happy Birthday, Margaret Atwood
So, this past Wednesday night, that ^^^^ happened.
(L to R — Erin Morgenstern, Some Jerk, Margaret Atwood, Neil Fucking Gaiman, Lev Grossman.)
Holy shit. I know, right?! Ahem. Yeah. So, I was invited to speak at the Happy Birthday, Margaret Atwood event at the 92Y, and to call it “surreal” is like suggesting the ocean is “damp,” or outer space is “chilly.” Upon arriving at the 92Y, I was ushered into the green room where Neil Gaiman (an unsurprisingly lovely person) was just… you know, sitting there? Chilling out? And then Lev shows up (he’s brilliant), and Erin after that (a good friend and an amazing writer), then finally the woman of the hour (the year, the decade, the century) appeared: Margaret Atwood.
She has great presence. She’s funny and wry and happy and yet, takes utterly no shit at all.
Erin did not make cakes with cake material but rather, she made cakes with words (75* of them, which is to say, *not 75 of them). Lev gave an arresting reading of The Handmaid’s Tale. I spoke of those things You Likely Did Not Know About Margaret Atwood, and also assured the audience that she was not my girlfriend. (You pesky gossips, all of you.) And Neil and Margaret had a conversation on stage that was billed as an interview but was far humbler and more comforting than that — it had that rare feeling of sitting in an adjacent room listening to two people just talk rather than sitting in an audience watching two people put on a show. Intimate, warm, curious, writerly. I was lucky to be there to see it, much less be a part of it. I mean, seriously, how privileged to be with such giants. Not literal giants, but literary ones. I tried very hard not to single-handedly diminish the literary legacies of all those attending.
I’m still not certain it actually happened.
My life is super weird, you guys.
Bonus: I got to hang after with some great friends, including my wife, my agent Stacia, my serial killer friend Dave, and awesome humans Eliza and Emma, both of whom flew in from Australia just to see the thing. (Plus, I got to meet Rita Meade from Book Riot, and frankly, anything and anybody associated with Book Riot is badass.)
Anyway, thanks to the 92Y, Random Penguinhaus, and Margaret for having me.