Last night I heard Wally Lamb talk about and read from his new novel, WE ARE WATER, at the Odyssey Bookshop, which is celebrating its fiftieth birthday with readings from fifty authors, which is pretty magnificent. And so was the author, who seemed genuinely happy to be there, though he’s at the end of what sounded like a strenuous tour, including an afternoon at Costco which he told us about, and included lots of solitude amid the hubub and a fight between a woman who wanted to linger and her husband who heard there were free meatballs in another aisle.
He read brief passages from three different points of view and told us some about the book’s origins from historic events in his hometown, changing the genders and other features of the people involved. He wrote with an eye to how two events from different times would come together in his mind. His method, he said, is to write a sentence, revise it, write another sentence, go back and revise the first – or something like that, working from about eight in the morning until one or two in the afternoon. He said that he doesn’t know where he’ll end up, though at some point he’s made big graphs with index cards to see everything as a whole. While he begins with bits of stories and characters that touch or preoccupy him, he said that it’s a daily and long term discovery to find and show what the story means to him, acknowledging that it may mean something different to every reader.
I’m excited to read this book!
(The photo is taken from the Odyssey’s facebook page; signed books are available in the shop and through the mail).