Book Chat

Meeting the Magician King

Last Friday afternoon, I took a late lunch hour and browsed my Google Reader to catch up on some of my blog reading.  I hadn’t read any blogs for a few days, so when I saw that Lev Grossman, the author of The Magicians and The Magician King, was having a book reading in San Francisco, at first I figured I was too late.  But I wasn’t too late at all!  Saturday night, donation only, doors opening at 6 and the event starting at 7, the Variety Preview Room.  It totally made my day!

Sam and I met there, and actually Sam was super early and saved us seats in the front row.


I was waiting on laundry to finish, missed the bus, spent about 15 minutes walking around in circles until I finally noticed the building across the street.  What a way to get started!

But look how close we were sitting!

That’s my foot in the corner, five feet away from the authors’ table!

Sitting in front of the small theater were the two authors and a moderator.  First a local San Francisco author, S.G. Browne, read from his new book–Lucky Bastard, a noir detective story with the intriguing concept of luck poaching.  Very interesting, with a distinctive writing style.

I certainly enjoy learning about new authors, but of course I had come for Lev Grossman.  I read The Magicians when I was recovering from surgery last summer–a dear family friend sent it to me as a surprise.  The book caught me completely by surprise–it was fantasy but realistic, unlikable but compelling characters, urban and fantastic, magic for adults.  If you really want to sum it up in a few words, it’s like an apathetic Harry Potter goes to college.

(Side Note: Not only is Lev Grossman not threatened by J.K. Rowling’s monopoly on wizarding schools, but he even told us that he’s going to “not one but two Harry Potter conventions this summer.”  How awesome is that!  He also bears no grudge against C.S. Lewis (unlike some fantasy authors) and acknowledges a debt to his childhood escapes to Narnia.)

Lev Grossman had two experiments for us: first, he passed around his iPad for a one-player Scrabble game–the audience member who earned the most points for their word won a t-shirt!  My measly 21-point word “wen” obviously didn’t “win” but it was a successful experiment, despite his many caveats that it would most likely fail miserably.

The most exciting experiment was that he didn’t read from his new book, The Magician King; instead, he read from a draft of the third book that is still in the writing process.  Talk about exciting!  A completely new character begins the book, with the tantalizing tidbit that there will indeed be a ghost at Brakebills.  Excuse me while I silently swoon with anticipation… again.

I’ve never been so close to an author that I admire so much… it was a really neat experience!  Lev Grossman was just as wry, self-deprecating, and humorous as you’d expect from his books.  Isn’t it nice when someone exceeds your expectations, instead of the opposite?  After the Q & A session, I got to meet him face to face while he signed my book.

I was honestly a bit starstruck and got completely tongue-tied.  But I managed to convince Sam to take a pic, and now there’s evidence on the internet that I got to meet Lev Grossman!

The best part was that the “SF in SF” book events are held as fundraisers for Variety Children’s Charity of Northern California — to date, they’ve helped raise over $30,000 for various children’s programs in the community!  We’re officially on the email list, and I’m excited we found this group for future events!

In case you’re interested in The Magicians trilogy, or if you’ve read it already, check out this great song inspired by the books: I Wanna Be a Magician (linked to Lev Grossman’s blog)–there was even a recent contest for best cover of the song.  Fun stuff!

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