The best-selling author Scott Turow visited our little island yesterday to help raise money for the library, talk about his new book Suspect and regale us with stories of how he came to be a celebrity. He was not boastful, just honest and entertaining and giving us what we wanted to hear.
A handful of non-readers may not know Scott Turow, but there is no doubt he is famous in many circles, including Hollywood and literary. His status was reinforced last night as he threw around the names of other glamorous folks like TV Producer David E. Kelly and fellow writer Steve King.
It was odd hearing the great author referred to as “Steve.” King, along with Turow, is a member of the Rock Bottom Remainders, a band that includes other best-selling writers like Amy Tan and Dave Barry.
Turow told the story of how he and Steve were sitting next to each other on a band bus when another bus passed them, and Steve turned to Scott and said …
Wait, I thought. I know what he said. “What if we looked over and saw ourselves on that bus?”
And then Turow said, quoting Steve. “What if we looked over and saw ourselves on that bus … and all of us were dead.”
The audience laughed. I thought no, not dead. Alive and going someplace to create mischief as our other selves. And then each of us would have to track down and kill that other me. But who am I to second-guess Stephen King.
Following Turow’s remarks, we headed for a cocktail party at a fabulous new home just off the waterfront. After exchanging small talk with a lot of the island people I knew, I ended up standing next to Scott Turow, wondering what the hell I was going to say. I was suddenly uncomfortable, which is unusual for me.
The problem was that I felt the need to be witty, charming and erudite instead of just myself. I wanted to toss off some memorable line that captured his fancy and possibly lingered as he sat at his desk the next morning preparing to work on his latest novel.
“I’m a writer and I could really relate to what you said about getting lost …. Blah, blah, blah.”
I could read the subtle expression on his face. How many times had he heard those same banal comments. He looked at his phone and turned it on. I was sympathetic.
“I wonder where my driver is. He’s supposed to be calling me.”
There was a pool nearby, but I decided against jumping in. Instead, I smiled and turned to a conversation between an older man, who had earlier introduced himself as Sam, and Mike, the husband of another best-selling crime author, Linda Fairstein. An amazing woman.
The evening was coming to a close, but I could have listened forever to Sam Skinner, former chief of staff for President George H. W. Bush, attorney and financial wizard Michael Goldberg and his wife.
They were talking about law and Chicago and suddenly I was no longer feeling like an idiot. I was doing what I do best as a former reporter, listening and enjoying the banter.
Tonight, I’m off to hear Martin Walker, former reporter for The Guardian, expert on European affairs and mystery writer. I’m not worried. I have met this interesting man many times and won’t be saying anything dumb … I hope.