Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Susan Sontag RIP

I was lucky enough to see Sontag at a book-signing at Brazos Bookstore on Bissonnet (one of my favorite places in all of Houston, Texas) when she was promoting the novel which would later win the 2000 National Book Award for fiction, In America. Although, aside from a quick skim of "Notes On Camp" a couple of years earlier, I had never read a word of her, I did know well enough to take advantage of a free opportunity to hear a person of her magnitude speak. If my memory serves, she was generous, intense and eloquent, reading passages from her book and speaking mainly of her creative process and other writers she admired. I suppose we should all have picked her brain about the state of the world, but perhaps that was not an appropriate thing to do in a promotional appearance for a novelist's new book, even if she was so much more than just that. When I get back to Los Angeles I'll have to pull out my autographed copy of In America and look at the inscription; I've yet to read the book, mostly because I get leery of cracking the spines and roughing up the edges of the few autographed editions I've managed to collect. She'd probably advise against such extreme delicacy; I remember her advising a questioner who mentioned underlining favorite passages in books to continue to do so, just do it in pencil. Perhaps if I cradle the spine of my copy and put aside the dust jacket for safe-keeping until I'm finished, she wouldn't mind too much.

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