Wednesday, March 02, 2011
I will pause here a moment and offer further mad props to my homegirl Suey, who not only saved me the aforementioned spot, she also told me about the event in the first place, which I was ignorant of, having been eye-deep in the day-to-day grind of writing my own novel on a looming if self-imposed deadline.
Those of you that follow this blog may recollect my recent extended squee over the first book in the Kingkiller Chronicles, The Name of the Wind, some two weeks ago. I had been saving the book for most of a year before I read it, for various reasons, and I enjoyed it most thoroughly. I seem to have done something right, albeit unconsciously, because unlike most of the rest of Mr. Rothfuss' fans, I did not have to wait long for the next book, and indeed I purchased a copy yesterday for him to sign.
But enough about me.
First thing to say about the reading is: man is that Pat Rothfuss a funny, entertaining guy. He's apparently a big anti-fan of spoilers, so the only bit of the new book that he read was the prologue, which, like the first book, is really very short. Mostly he just extemporized, sometimes extemporaneously, other times in response to questions. He even managed to answer many of those questions in the course of said extemporizing.
At first I was a little disappointed that he didn't read more, but as things went along I realized that that was just because all the other events like this I've been to were mostly taken up with an author reading a story or a passage from their book. But I respect the choice he made not to read much from the book (which several people in the audience were reading while waiting for him to start and then for him to sign; I saw at least one guy who was three-quarters of the way through it), because of spoilers but also so we could all get an extra dose of Pat being Pat.
I suppose when you enjoy the kind of success Pat Rothfuss has, it encourages you to grow a little larger than life. In many people this turns out to be a bad thing. Not so Mr. Rothfuss, who seems to have grown into his success with some humility and recollection of where he came from intact. He's still wicked funny, and I'm not saying the man doesn't know he's a badass, because he does, and he's not afraid to let you know it, too. But he's so obviously having such a great time that it's hard not to go along with it. And like I said, the man is damned funny. He's also damned smart (smart enough, for instance, to ask that no one record the proceedings, so that he could speak off the cuff without the fear that he'd end up on YouTube saying something about how long-winded JRR Tolkien was).
Most of the hour or so was taken up with answering questions (though he did read, in addition to the prologue of the new book, a couple of his poems, at least one of which ended quite badly). Most of it was pretty typical fan stuff (my own question involved the chicken and egg of world-building vs story), and he was expansive in his answers. But what I really respected was his refusal to answer certain questions that didn't lend themselves to the pith and concision required by the venue. For instance, a poor college student asked if he might, having purchased the hardcover, make his own digital copy, which is a viper-infested minefield that one might spend hours and hours discussing, and Mr. Rothfuss ably answered why he couldn't answer that question without coming down either way on it (like I said, this is a smart guy).
As for my own experience with him, of course I wanted to chat him up and drop my credential and whatnot, but I was just another guy in line, and given how many people were behind me waiting it seemed like it would be disrespectful to do anything but say thanks and have him sign the book (I got The Wise Man's Fear inscribed to me and had him inscribe my paperback copy of The Name of the Wind to my gfk August, who I hope will like the book as much as I did). I did manage to stand out a little by offering him and Nate Taylor (who drew the map for the Kingkiller books and illustrated The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle, his not-for-children children's book) some of the girl scout cookies I had bought on the way in. Perhaps if I am lucky enough to meet him sometime in the future I will remind him of that and see if he remembers me. After all, everybody loves girl scout cookies.
You can buy The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear here at Amazon, but if you have a local bookstore you should buy it from them if you can. Local bookstores rock.