19 November 2012

I left the house: Bill Roorbach at KGB

Last night I went to see Bill Roorbach read from his new novel LIFE AMONG GIANTS.

If John Irving rewrote THE ART OF FIELDING, you'd get something like LIFE AMONG GIANTS -- a coming-of-age story backed with extremely messed-up rich people into whose problems the comer-of-age is drawn. In the novel that part is played by David "Lizard" Hochmeyer, an uncannily tall 17-year-old who becomes obsessed with his famous neighbors in tony Westport, Connecticut in the year that his parents are murdered in front of him. The murders derail Lizard, bound for Princeton on a football scholarship and striving to be the dutiful son in his older sister's absence, and change the course of his life.

Roorbach read part of the book's opening, in which Lizard goes over to his neighbor's after the man of the house has been killed (under murky circumstances, of course), ostensibly to help out with chores but really out of curiosity. He joked that he was censoring it on the fly for the benefit of his daughters, who were manning the sales table at the front of the room next to him and whom he had sent to "Annie" while he was having meetings in the city. Unfortunately, this meant the reading was somewhat start-and-stop as the author skipped around in the opening chapter.

LIFE AMONG GIANTS is Roorbach's eighth book but has already gotten more attention that the author said he was used to. He described a meeting with a TV agent who asked him, perplexingly, what the "takeaway" for viewers would be at the end of the first season. I doubt I could answer this question for shows I watch, let alone a series that doesn't exist yet. (For what it's worth: Because the book takes place in 3 different eras -- Lizard's high school years, everything that happened before, and decades later when he moves back to Westport as an adult -- I would do 3 seasons, present, past and present-narrative, which wraps up the unanswered questions of both. But I don't have HBO, so what do I know?)

A poet opened for him doing Americana-style works (the open road! Gettysburg! Hot ladies in the desert!) accompanied by an acoustic guitar. Less said the better about that.


Giant said...

Thanks, Ellen. My daughter googled me up and found you and I'm grateful just to know someone was listening. Also, I am curious. In both senses...

Ellen said...

thanks for stopping in NYC! I wish you were doing more readings so I had time to cajole people I know into reading your book, which I liked a lot.