Third Place Books Ravenna has been hosting lunchtime events with authors for some time now. This afternoon the guest was Walter Kirn, author of the very good book Blood Will Out, a non-fiction account of Kirn's friendship with a con man who passed himself off as a member of the Rockefeller family. Lunchtime events with authors are often friendly occasions: For the most part, the author is remarkably open to questions and to conversation with the audience, in a weirdly vulnerable way that you don't see often in evening readings. Kirn was charming and forthcoming, taking questions for a lot longer than the usual author event.
Kirn pointed out that the world is based on trust, especially in America, a "nation of believers." But after the Iraq War and countless other deceits, "Americans are used to being deceived by now, I hope," Kirn said. Once someone introduces themselves to you, you basically take it on faith that they are who they claim to be. It's easy to look stupid in retrospect—"Stephen Spielberg trusted his money with a man whose name was 'made off'"—but we're all too trusting sometimes. He said that we befriend people on social networks all the time without knowing anything about them beyond a photograph and some text. "We can't smell them, we can't touch them," Kirn said. "Dogs would never like social media," he concluded.
The next Third Place Ravenna luncheon is with novelist Anthony Doerr, who'll be in town for his new novel All the Light We Cannot See on May 9. Third Place's Michael Coy, who's been one of the most trusted booksellers in Seattle for decades, calls it "my favorite book of 2014," which is the kind of statement that makes you pay attention. $40 gets you a copy of the book, a delicious lunch from Vios Cafe, and the author's undivided, unguarded attention. It's a pretty great deal.