I have always believed that as a wannabe writer/author, my biggest weakness is my inability to be coherent - dexterous, , lucid, whatever. Damn I can't even do that when talking about it, if you know what I mean. I especially hem and haw when facing larger crowds in a formal setting. So naturally, when asked to attend a session by one of my favorite authors, I jumped at the opportunity. Mainly, to hear her speak and learn a thing or two about brevity.
Do you know what it feels like when after craving for a chocolate, you bite into a Lindt dark chocolate with 85% cocoa? Well, if you don't, find out. For that is how I felt when I heard Jhumpa Lahiri read out passages from her new unfinished book and later answer audience questions. Disappointed. Just how I felt after I first met the editor of my favorite youth magazine, back in the days. Subsequently, I worked with this woman for 2 months on her new book, but the charm did not disissipate slowly. It went away poof! in one quick motion, in the first few minutes that she first interviewed me for the job.
I digress. Back to Lahiri's reading. Not only could she not articulate her thoughts well and she umm'd and err'd a lot, her tone was very deadbeat. She could use her striking appearance to her advantage to create a stronger positive impression, but obviously doesn't seem to have bothered.
Maybe my expectations were set too naturally high. Or it could simply be that the audience wasn't stimulating enough. High chance it was the latter. Here's some example of the kind of questions the audience asked her:
Sample Audience Question I: "You had a thick accent when you began reading. Why did it disappear mid-way? Were you trying to create an American atmosphere"
Lahiri's Response: "I'm born and raised in America. Whatever accent I have is part of my natural communication"
Sample Audience Question/Comment II: "8 years ago I ran into a woman in Kolkotta. Her last name was Lahiri. Today I realized she was your cousin Subbalaxmi Lahiri" (or something like that. I was laughing too hard to understand what exactly the woman said)
Lahiri's response: "Small world"
Its not that I suddenly dislike her for not being a great orator. She is a writer and great at that. Its only that she makes me feel like anyone can be like her. I can be like her. And I dislike thinking this way. I want my idols to be that way. Idols. Awe-inspiring. Jaw-dropping. Too much to ask for I guess.
Meanwhile, I'm just going to ignore the fact that I heard her speak in such a boring way and gloat a little more at the fact that I managed to get her to sign my copy of her book.