Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Loving the Des Moines Life: Cheryl Strayed

Loving the Des Moines Life is a periodic series highlighting the things, bookish and non-bookish, I most love about living in Des Moines.

Last night marked the beginning of Des Moines Public Library's 2013 AViD (Authors Visiting in Des Moines) series. The series is a big deal in the city of Des Moines because we are never a stop on a book tour unless the author lives here or grew up here (hello, Bill Bryson and John Shors!) Many authors stop in Iowa City, which is two hours from and rarely a round trip drive I want to make after work. I did a terrible job of attending AViD events last year, but this year I committed to attend all six to support the literary community in town. It was extra fun to have my friend Jessica, who blogs about fitness at Miss FitGab, join me. First up: Cheryl Strayed!

I adored Wild when I read it last summer (my review) and have been meaning to read her novel Torch, which was written before Wild, and her collection of wisdom Tiny Beautiful Things. After seeing her speak last night, my enthusiasm for Cheryl is even stronger. It also warmed my heart to see so many people spilling out of the room and sitting on every piece of available floor. Way to represent, Des Moines!

Local author Jennifer Wilson (Running Away to Home) introduced Cheryl beautifully. Cheryl spoke in a way that felt like it was the first time she was telling her story. Even though I knew the story from reading the book and even though I knew she's been touring for this book for more than a year, she infused a freshness in her words that made the moment feel incredibly special. She read a short passage from Wild, and although I'd read those words before, there's an intimacy to hearing Cheryl's cadence and reflection in them. To close, Cheryl read one of the columns collected in Tiny Beautiful Things, which prompted me to laugh out loud and tear up. I immediately bought a copy for my Kindle and look forward to diving in and savoring each one.

The night ended with an excellent Q&A session moderated by Jennifer Wilson. Audience members could pose questions via Twitter and in print. The quote of the night came in response to a question if Cheryl ever saw her article in the hobo publication. Her answer: "No. It turns out hobos are really bad at archiving."

If you have a chance to see Cheryl on her current tour, I highly recommend it.

The rest of this year's AViD series includes Karen Thompson Walker, Ayana Mathis, Michael Perry, Mary Jane Clark, and Amy Tan.

1 comment:

  1. I am way jealous. I also adore Cheryl (and Wild) but authors never come to New Jersey! :(


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