Posted by: jeannineatkins | December 4, 2013

Wally Lamb Reading We Are Water at the Odyssey Bookshop

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).



  1. What a fun and useful post – from the meatball fight to Wally Lamb’s writing process. Thanks, Jeannine, for your generosity.

  2. Oh, Sarah, it’s the generosity of Wally Lamb that is astonishing. He’s been teaching in various forms for decades, spent something like the last 16 years leading writing workshops for incarcerated women, who he credits with nurturing his imagination and building his powers of empathy. So heartwarming.

  3. I haven’t read many of his books, but find them deeply good. I’ve read too many books for children lately, need to find a lovely adult book-perhaps this will be the one! It sounds like an inspiring talk. How lovely that your bookstore will celebrate 50 years with 50 authors, and lucky for you, Jeannine.

    • Yes, I’m lucky to live where I do. Just heard Zadie Smith speak at UMass. Lots of choices for things to read. I’m sure you’ll find just the thing!

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