Last night I went and saw David Mitchell in Seattle. As I hate driving in that city I booked passage on the greyhound bus from Bellingham. It was a great reason to listen to an audio book–Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell, for the umpteenth time. As I watched the sad people enter and exit the bus (I was at the very front, behind the driver) I smiled and tried to soak up some of the skill and ideas within that book.

I caught a very early bus because I wanted a front row seat, but when I arrived at Town Hall Seattle I was the first one there and signs weren’t even on the door. Two and a half hours early will do that. So I looked up a place for some pho and walked a couple blocks down the street to a small, inexpensive Vietnamese restaurant.

It took me about 45 minutes to eat and when I came back to Town Hall an asian woman in a pale trench coat and snake skin heels was leaning against the door reading on her kindle. She gave no indication that she was aware I was there at all. Her dark hair had one large curl in it, hanging down her right side, shielding her face from view.

Signs were now taped to the glass doors that said the place would open at 6:30. Since one other person was already there I didn’t feel like such a weirdo hanging out until the doors opened. It was 5:47.

At about 6:20 people came out and put music stands with signs that read Will Call in one line and Tickets in the other. At this point a very strange phenomenon began to occur. I was second in line and there was a couple others behind me. But as the minutes ticked by more and more people started showing up. It must have something to do with peoples belief exceptionalism that many of them would look at the line–not a large line–in a confused manner, then go and pull on the doors, which were locked and had signs that said Doors Open: 6:30. Then they would look back at the line as if there was no reason why they should have to stand in line like everyone else. But, in the end, they would go to the back of the line with sorrowful looks.

Since I was second in line I got a front row seat, right in front of David. The presentation started with a short reading and then followed with the longest Q&A I’ve ever seen a writer give. I was brave enough to ask the first question and it was this: Given the complexity of your novels and the intertwining of the multiple plots and threads, how do you keep everything organized? I wish I could tell you exactly what he said, but I can’t. As he thought I felt that I could see his mind drawing connections between a multitude of answers he could give. Unfortunately, it seemed, there were so many ways to answer the question he couldn’t quite focus on one in particular.

I’ll save the rest for tomorrow.


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