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I hadn’t expected to meet a Pulitzer Prize-winning author this past Tuesday..

February 21, 2019

..but I did.

I tutor ESL on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the downtown library in Boise. People were remarking that the library parking lot was filling up much more, and much more quickly, than usual.

The class supervisor looked online and found out Anthony Doerr, who won the Pulitzer for his novel, “All The Light We Cannot See” some years back, was to be giving a talk in a few minutes.

I didn’t want to leave the class, in case there was someone who needed to be tutored. But this term, we’ve had a lot of student absences. There were just enough students not in attendance so that one teacher could leave.

In the past when this has happened, I’ve always stayed, and one or more of the other tutors has left. But this time, no one else wanted to leave. I got to go downstairs to the Hayes Auditorium (which is not an auditorium, but a multi-purpose room on the first floor of the library) to hear Mr. Doerr speak!

Hearing and meeting Anthony Doerr has been one of my goals, not only because I have read some of Doerr’s short fiction, (his first book, “The Shell Collector,” his first book) and am currently over halfway into his second short story collection, “Memory Wall,” but also because Doerr is a Boise resident – something I did not know when I started reading his books.

The presentation, featuring Doerr and author Charmaine Craig, was put on by the National Book Foundation.

The National Book Foundation, presenter of the National Book Awards each year, has gone on the road, bringing authors not only to cities on the coasts, but to the hinterlands as well (it is good to live in the hinterlands of America).

Doerr spoke, as did Ms. Craig, a California-based author, who I had not heard of before, but who, like Doerr, was quite interesting.

Both authors read a bit of their fiction, talked about their lives, and took questions from the moderator and the audience.

Rediscovered Books, a small bookshop in Boise, set up a table to sell books to be signed. I bought 4 of Doerr’s books, and Charmaine Craig’s novel, “Miss Burma,” which is somewhat based on her mother’s life in Burma.

I got to meet and talk a bit with both authors, and have them sign my books. Quite an experience!

If you live in the Boise area, you’ll likely have some opportunities to meet Anthony Doerr. As you might guess, he spends most of his time writing, and travels some, but does show up here and there in town. Only one talk scheduled soon though, listed on anthonydoerr.com, and that one is in Dallas. Don’t worry. He’ll show up again in Boise.

Doerr writes unusual fiction. In the same book, one story will have an element of science fiction, the next will incorporate some mysticism, and the next will not have any fantastical elements, and be a more realistic story. He is kind of like Ray Bradbury that way. This shows true talent, I think. Lots of authors stick to one genre, but Doerr doesn’t.

I can’t comment on his prize-winning novel though, since I have not read yet read it. Nor have I read “Miss Burma.” I’ll be reading these soon.

I really felt blessed to be at the library Tuesday night, and am very grateful for moments of serendipity.

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