Friday, July 22, 2011
Sara Paretsky at A Room of One's Own
T and I went to see author Sara Paretsky reading last night at Madison's A Room of One's Own from Body Work, her 2010 V.I Warshawski book that's just going into paperback.
"You can buy books elsewhere for less," said Nancy, one of the co-owners of Madison's invaluable independent, feminist bookstore -- "but then you wouldn't get Sara Paretsky." The author echoed her comments about the importance of bookstores as places to browse when you don't even know what you're looking for. As she said, "Amazon will give you recommendations, but that's not the same thing as picking a book up and leafing through it yourself." She also lauded the role bookstores play in creating communities,something that's especially true of A Room of One's Own. Finally, she noted that authors tend to get short-changed on royalties by Amazon.
It was such a pleasure seeing this writer I've admired for so long -- one of those genre writers who transcends the limits of genre and isn't afraid to be political. Her protagonist V.I. Warshawski is as unique and memorable as Parestsky's gritty portrayal of Chicago (I've always thought it was a shame and a missed opportunity that the only movie I know of that was made from her novels was pretty bad -- V.I. Warshawski, a dreadful 1991 Kathleen Turner vehicle).
Paretsky talked about politics, and how surreal it was to watch what had become of Wisconsin, which had always seemed like such a leading progressive light. She also talked about the process of aging her character over a long writing career. She and V.I. started out at the same age in their thirties, but now she's 64 and V.I. is about 50. But she hasn't had the heart to age the dogs, who remain the same age. As she pointed out, otherwise they'd all be dead by now.