Tonight I had the pleasure of attending a reading by one of my favorite authors, Isabel Allende, who recently released the English translation of her new memoir, The Sum of Our Days (La suma de los días). This event brought me back to my days as a college student, analyzing works of Latin American literature as though I had a clue what it was like to live through revolution or slavery or natural disasters. Never mind the fact that, until last week, I had never even set foot on South American soil.
This reading was not like other readings I have attended by critically acclaimed writers. At a reading by Carlos Fuentes during my Colgate days, I was so uncharacteristically star-struck that I could barely recite my own name when he signed my copy of Los años con Laura Díaz. (Also, some twenty percent of his talk went straight over my 20-year-old head). In contrast, hearing Allende speak was like sitting down for coffee was a clever, sassy friend. Her stories are enchanting, earthy, and real. Unlike the fiction of many Latin American writers (including Allende herself), the magic of her non-fiction prose is not in the events, but in the telling of the tale. I actually had chills during some parts of her reading.
Opportunities to hear great artists discuss their work are usually limited to universities and major cities. I have been blessed to take advantage of both, and after a long winter full of gray days and personal challenges, I’m looking forward to all the opportunities that spring in New York has to offer.