Thursday night I bopped over to my Facebook page before calling it a night, and happened to see an ad in the right margin that, for a change, was actually relevant and helpful. David Sedaris at the Hult in Eugene!? I'm there! Two tickets and a phone call securing a friend's promise to accompany (despite saying, "Who's that?" when initially asked), and I was looking forward to a Friday night not spent at home exhausted and bored.
My husband, when asked if he wanted to join us, had replied, "I'm sorry, I'll be busy here at home hitting myself in the head with a hammer."
As a fan of his books, and a big fan of This American Life and his various deliveries on NPR, I broke my usual refusal of ridiculous ticket prices for such events. $40 for a reading? Yeesh. And don't forget the "convenience fee" AND the extra fee to print the tickets on your own printer versus picking up at will-call. Isn't that backwards? $92 total for two tickets.
I'm glad we went; some girl time with a friend, introduction to a performance space I hadn't sen yet, and exposure to new material were all good things.
But also, lots of negatives. First... a reading needs to be more intimate, but that's just in my opinion and clearly many others disagree. I wouldn't attend a reading in a larger venue again. This venue in particular had awful sound for a single speaker; it was as if there were just two speakers down low near the front. We were in the lower mezzanine and at times could barely hear.
It dawned on me how my consumption of his material was largely through audio, with the ability to control the flow, and how that shaped how I appreciated and preferred to consume his material. The power to be able to replay a section--as often happens as I'm laughing my head off and miss the next bit--was missing, and I felt as if much was missed. Not to mention, the woman sitting next to me who kept making the most disgusting sinus noises left me wishing I were slumped in my favorite chair at home with the show on podcast.
The reading clocked in at around 90 minutes or less; we were back in the car by 9:50, and the last 15 minutes or so had been a commercial for Audible.com, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. Why must EVERYTHING be ruined by pandering?
We didn't stay for the book signing; those types of things always make me uncomfortable. If I had a chance to sit down and have a 10 minute chat over coffee? Sure, I'd jump at that chance. But a forced few seconds in line with others waiting behind us? Strikes me as... just odd.