Books

Do you recognize this man?

I got an original Tony Millionaire drawing of a guy I don't recognize as a pledge reward for the McSweeney's Kickstarter. Here it is.

A few months ago I made a pledge to McSweeney’s Kickstarter campaign. As part of my pledge reward, I’d get an original Tony Millionaire drawing from The Believer. Cool, right? Only thing is, I got my drawing in the mail this week and have absolutely no idea who the guy in it is. Thought maybe it’d say on the back, or there’d be a label of some kind with his name, but nope. Just the drawing.

According to the Kickstarter page, most of the drawings are “portraits of musicians, writers, artists, or philosophers.” I tried to think of which musicians/writers/artists/philosophers looked like the man in the drawing and at first glance he reminded me of Woody Harrelson, in a “fourth cousin three times removed” kind of way. I’m 99.99% sure it’s not him, though.

The simplest solution would be to email/tweet the Believer folks with something like, “Sup? Got a drawing of this guy. Who is he?” But that would be so… easy. This could be much more entertaining.

First, I asked my more literary and artistically-inclined friends. One guy Chris went, “¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ” then elaborated, “Looks like it could be any white guy.”

My friend Jen said it might be Paul Newman. It’s a better guess that Woody Harrelson’s fourth cousin three times removed, but I’m still not sure.

Everyone else I asked either didn’t know, or just wanted to talk about the fact that I paid $100 for a drawing of a guy I couldn’t recognize. Haters gonna hate.

Then for fun, I uploaded the picture onto one of those “Which Celebrity Do I Look Like?” sites. I figure if there are sites that can tell you which famous person you look like, they should be able to scan the drawing of an actually-famous person’s face and tell who it is, right? Wrong. Turns out those sites don’t work on drawings, and I tried a bunch. Foiled again!

Since my friends weren’t much of a help and facial recognition only works on, well, real faces I guess, I figured I’d try another way. What if, instead of my small circle of friends, I had the whole city helping me figure out who this guy was? But how? Glad you asked!

A picture of a guy who isn't Woody Harrelson, I don't think.

I’ve got a giant urge to print a few hundred of these bad boys out and plaster them all around the city. I might do it, see what happens. But on the off chance you know who this mystery man is, please contact me immediately. Thanks, and remember, it’s not Woody Harrelson.

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Check This Out: Alison and Her Robot

About a year ago, my old roommate Fred funded a print run of his children’s book through Kickstarter. It’s called Alison and Her Rainy Day Robot, and it’s adorable.

Cliff Notes version: It’s a rainy day and Alison’s bored. She decides to build a robot, but it winds up being kind of lame. I mean, when Alison asks the robot what they should do for fun, it suggests they make a nice gazpacho.

Not cool, Robot. Not cool at all.

So, what to do? What would you do for fun with a robot? I think the answer’s obvious:

rainydayrobot_44

Pillow fight! Duh. If pillow fights between robots and children are your kind of thing, you’ll love Fred’s new comic strip, Alison and Her Robot.

RIYL: pillow fights, robots, penguins, smiling

If you like the comic strip, you can buy the book it’s based off of here. Do it.

In Dyer Need of a Doughnut

doughnut mapI recently stumbled across this awesome Doughnut Map and aside from thinking I MUST HAVE IT, I also thought I bet Geoff Dyer already’s gotten his hands on one of these, that crazy-ass doughnut lover.

Dyer loves doughnuts so much that he wrote a piece centered around his obsession with them in the titular essay of his award-winning collection, Otherwise Known as the Human Condition. You can read it excerpt of it here.

When it comes to doughnuts, Dyer is very particular. His essay focuses on his love of the ones from Doughnut Plant. Too bad Dyer’s based out of London — the only Doughnut Plant locations are in New York, Korea, and Japan.

I got to speak to Dyer at a reading last spring, when he was promoting his new book, Zona. The reading was at the SVA Theatre, which is a block away from a Doughnut Plant. How convenient.

Following the reading was a book signing. If you’ve read this post about the J.K. Rowling reading I went to, you know I sometimes spaz when I meet people I respect and admire. But that didn’t happen when I met Geoff. Nope. I was all calm and collected and shit.

This is what happened when I got to the signing table:

Geoff Dyer: Hi.
Flippin’ Amasian: Hi. (hands geoff copy of otherwise known as the human condition) So… Have you gotten any doughnuts from the Doughnut Plant down the street yet?
GD: (about to sign book, but then looks up and drops pen. reaches into messenger bag beside table. pulls out paper bag emblazoned with doughnut plant logo. holds it high in the air. smiles triumphantly) Two!
FA: Holy shit, you actually have Doughnut Plant doughnuts on you. Two of them, even! That’s amazing.
GD: That’s why I stay at the Maritime, it’s so close!

dyer and doughnut

Dyer with doughnut. File under: Pure joy. (via)

“That’s why I stay at the Maritime…” I love that. When most other people visit foreign cities, they choose where to stay by considering things like best available accommodations, or easy access to public transportation. But not Geoff Dyer. Why does he choose to stay at the Maritime? Not because of its superior services or its cozy and comfortable rooms, but because of its proximity to Doughnut Plant. That’s why.

GD: Are you a fan?
FA: Of… Doughnut Plant? Or doughnuts in general?
GD: (nods)

At the time, I hadn’t yet tried Doughnut Plant (and regrettably still haven’t), so I couldn’t (and still can’t) say I’m a fan. I thought of lying and saying I was anyway, but then I thought, What if he asks me what my favorite Doughnut Plant doughnut is? I’ll say Boston Cream. But what if Doughnut Plant doesn’t have Boston Cream? If I say Boston Cream and they don’t have it, Geoff will know I’m lying. He seems like the type to know the whole menu by heart. I won’t say Boston Cream.

FA: I like doughnuts, but I haven’t been to Doughnut Plant. Yet. I will, though. (eyes bag of doughnuts in geoff’s hand)
GD: You really should! (safely stows doughnuts away in messenger bag)

Then Geoff signed my book. The inscription reads: all best wishes & donutly boris.

Wait… donutly boris? That doesn’t sound right.

signed geoff dyer book

Donutly boris?

Whatever, I’ll just go with boris. All best wishes & donutly boris.

In addition to the hilarious (and not-at-all-exaggerated) doughnut piece, Otherwise Known as the Human Condition includes a few more personal essays and some really great, insightful reviews on books, movies, and photography. It’s pretty much a mix of everything. A perfect gift for anyone with an intellectual bent, varied interests, and a short attention span. Check it out here.

And while you’re at it, maybe grab a doughnut, or two. Or ten. Just grab a whole box.

My A Got D’d

I never wanted to buy an e-book reader. I love the smell of real books and their texture, feeling their weight in my hands. I love the way they look on my shelves and how I’m able to distinguish my favorites from the duds by the creases in their spines, the battered covers and the dog-eared pages. I didn’t want an e-book reader because:

  1. You don’t own the books you buy, you own licenses for them. How’m I gonna pass my digital library down to my hypothetical future children if the licenses are non-transferable?
  2. I love showing my books off to my friends. How do I do that with an e-reader? Do I hand it over to my friends and be like, “Yo, dudes. Check out all my files. Yeah, scroll through that shit. Dope, right?” No. Not dope. Not dope at all.
  3. I love paper, dammit.

Yes, I hate e-books. But now I own a Kindle. I betrayed my beliefs and I bought a Kindle.

Why? Because of you, Adam Levin.

Why’d you have to go and make The Instructions 1030 pages? It’s a terrific book, yes. But 1030 pages. 1030 pages. One thousand, thirty pages. And hardcover? How am I supposed to read this on the subway?

Adam Levin, you wrote a book I never wanted to put down, which is a shame because it was so heavy I had to put it down quite often. The book cramped my wrists and fingers. When I did manage to stuff it into my messenger bag, its weight pulled me down and made me a full inch shorter. An inch might not sound like much, but I am only 5′ 1″. I’m already short enough as it is!

The Instructions was so good that I couldn’t stop reading it, but I also couldn’t keep reading the version I had. And so I bought a Kindle.

As I inched my way through the story, I wondered: Is its length worth it? 1030 pages seems a bit excessive. Now that I’ve finished, I wish it was longer, just so I could still be reading it.

The Instructions opens with 10-year-old Gurion Maccabee and his two friends discussing the merits of waterboarding. While swimming in PE class, they decide to perform an experiment: they will try to drown each other. When the one underwater starts struggling to come up for air, the other two aren’t to release him immediately, but force him down for just a few seconds longer. The goal of this experiment being for the one being held underwater “to draw one of the following conclusions: ‘My best friends are about to accidentally drown me!’ or ‘My best friends are actually trying to drown me!’ The point was to learn what it was we feared more: being misunderstood or being betrayed.”

What a killer opening. Messed up, but memorable. The rest of the book continues in much the same vein.

Having been expelled from one school for throwing a stapler in a teacher’s face, and another for using a brick to beat up a boy on the playground (allegedly), Gurion Maccabee winds up at Aptakisic Junior High, where’s he’s placed into the school’s Cage program.

The final destination for troubled students, the Cage is a guarded room kept under constant lock and key. Most of the kids in the Cage are there because of violent behavior, which the Cage is meant to suppress but actually exacerbates. As the book progresses, so does the violence. Small acts of disrespect fuel slow burns between students and teachers, cultivating grudges and escalating skirmishes into all-out wars. The last couple hundred pages are dedicated to blow-by-blow descriptions of a brutal melee that breaks out within Aptakisic’s halls. At the center of this melee is Gurion Maccabee.

Here are some things to know about Gurion:

  1. He may be the Messiah
  2. If not the Messiah, he has the potential to be the Messiah
  3. He’s a scholar in the Talmud and he writes scripture. He is most known for Ulpan, or The Instructions, a step-by-step guide detailing how to make guns out of plastic bottles and pennies
  4. He has a following. He delivers a sermon and instructs his followers to create pennyguns and practice their aim, then asks that they distribute  Ulpan to other Israelite boys so they’re armed and able to defend themselves

If it isn’t obvious, Judaism is a huge part of this book. A good chunk of The Instructions is devoted to Gurion’s musings on the Talmud and how the stories therein can explain and justify his actions. If you aren’t familiar with religious history, fear not. Gurion’s long-winded asides are thorough and intensive enough to make you a scholar in the Talmud, too. But if I’m going to be honest, I have to admit that I often skipped these history lessons. I couldn’t help it. My A got D’d.

Don’t know what that means? I didn’t either, at first. One of the best things about this book is the vernacular Levin creates for Gurion and his friends. My A Got D’d. Bancer. Shover. Snat. All words and phrases the kids use constantly, but which are rarely explained. Most are easy enough to figure out (context clues!), but for the more elusive ones you might do well to refer to the handy glossary put together by the Rumpus Book Club (FYI: My A got D’d = My attention got deficit-ed/distracted).

In a 1000+ page book dealing with subject matter as dense as religion and the causes and consequences of violence, there needs to be something lighter to balance it out, to keep the reader going. In the case of The Instructions, that thing is language. The writing in The Instructions is brilliant and wildly energetic. The book’s content and themes are serious, but Gurion, with his tendency to analyze everything to death and his habit of interspersing long-winded speeches with absurd asides, makes for a comical and captivating narrator.

Take one of the first scenes in the book. After getting into a fight in the locker room, Gurion is escorted to the principal’s office by the sleazy gym teacher, Ron Desormie. Desormie makes girls sit at the front of the gymnasium during PE so he can more closely watch them stretch, that’s how sleazy he is. As Desormie marches him down the hall, Gurion reflects:

Ron Desormie. What a name. What a pervy name. What a perfect name for a perv like him. It could be verbed like pasteurize. I thought: It could be? No. It will be. I thought: From now on, desormiate = perv the world, and rondesormiate will, for a while, be an acceptable, however overly formal, variant in the vein of irregardless, then become archaic, whereas sorm and desorm, the slang of tomorrow, will eventually dominate, rendering desormiate itself the over-formal variant.

And thus, desormiate was born. And it was good. Gurion is true to his word and does indeed make Desormie into a verb throughout the book, including instances of religious discourse. For example, towards the end of the story, Gurion’s father, a lawyer, is nearly trampled to death following a trial. Long story short, Gurion’s father (a Jew) defended the rights of a neo-Nazi, which got some people in the Jewish community angry, ultimately leading to a huge riot following the trial.

When graphic footage of Gurion’s father being stampeded is shown on television, Gurion’s friends express concern that his father may have been seriously injured. Gurion assures them that his father’s okay, that it wasn’t as bad as it looked, just some bruises, to which his friends reply, “Baruch Hashem.” Gurion’s response:

It was certainly good that my father hadn’t suffered greater damage, but that didn’t mean it was a blessing, or that I should thank Hashem. If anything that fails to be worse than it is is a blessing, then no one would say anything but baruch Hashem, for everything could be worse, and so everything would be a blessing… Desormie desormiated all the girls in spandex, but he never raped them; I should say baruch Hashem? Eliyahu’s family was murdered, but, baruch Hashem, they weren’t tortured first? The Shoah — as many Israelites had remained as were destroyed — baruch Hashem?

Yes, The Instructions is violent. And yes, it is dense. But if these passages prove anything, they prove that it’s also incredibly intelligent, witty, and wry. This is a book that will make you work, but it’s worth it.

Read it for the scene where Gurion tries to figure out how to initiate his first kiss (“If I touched her hair and she let me, then I could bend my head sideways. If she bent her head sideways, then I could lean forward. And if she leaned forward, then I could press my lips against her lips, and then we would be kissing”).

Read it for the memorably unique characters, including: Boystar (a budding Justin Bieber, debut album Emotionalize), Call-Me-Sandy (Gurion’s school therapist, who’s still in grad school and uses her reports on Gurion to ask her advisor out on dates), and the Main Hall Shovers (obsessed admirers of the school basketball team, identifiable by their customized scarves).

Read it for the hostage negotiation scene where, to stall for time, Gurion demands the near impossible — a phone call with Philip Roth.

Read it for the scene where Gurion actually gets to talk to Philip Roth.

Read The Instructions because if you don’t, you’ll be a bancer. Buy it from the McSweeney’s site and, while you’re there, check out their other awesome stuff. Or, if you must, buy license the Kindle version here.

The Casual Vacancy: A Book for Grown-Ups

Shazam! Check that out! As you might know from this post, I was lucky enough to snag a ticket to last week’s J.K. Rowling reading and I got a copy of The Casual Vacancy signed by Her Majesty herself. It is magnificent.

I forgot that a copy of the book was included in the ticket price for the event, so I also bought it on its release date. Oops. Oh well, at least that gave me a chance to finish the story before the Q&A, which was great because this one took me a while to read.

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, but as much as I love those books, I was hesitant to start this one. From announcement to publication, all anyone kept saying about The Casual Vacancy was that it would be an adult novel. It was repeated over and over again, like a warning: Be careful. This is not Harry Potter. Rowling’s doing something completely different and you may not like it.

I decided to ignore the warnings and get the book anyway, but couldn’t help wondering how the shift in audience would affect Rowling’s writing. Would her idea of an adult novel be one that relied on sex and swearing to make it seem more mature? Would the sex and swearing be strained and forced? Would it be too unbelievable coming from an author who spent 17 years writing books for children? Or, would Rowling’s adult novel be one that just happened to have adults as the main characters, without much of a change in content or themes? Like the time Stephenie Meyer said she was going to write a novel for adults but then published The Host, which was just as immature and just as much a travesty to literature as Twilight.

At last week’s reading, Ann Patchett prompted Rowling to clarify what she meant by calling The Casual Vacancy an adult novel. A bookseller as well as a novelist, Patchett commented on how “adult” had a very different meaning in bookstores, à la Fifty Shades of Gray. Rowling confirmed that it wasn’t that kind of adult book. And what’s the difference between Rowling’s adult book and E.L. James’s? According to Rowling, “People have sex in this book, but no one really enjoys it.” She and Patchett agreed that for the rest of the conversation they wouldn’t call The Casual Vacancy a book for adults, but rather, a book for grown-ups.

When asked what age the absolute youngest reader of this book would be, Rowling stated that it would be appropriate for the right 14- or 15-year-old, but not anyone younger than that. So what makes it so grown-up? It isn’t just the sex (though there’s a good amount of that) or the swearing (TONS of that), but the subject matter.

I don’t mean to say that Harry Potter is thematically immature by comparison. HP does deal with some tough stuff, but it mostly does so in an abstract sense. In those books you know bad shit’s going down, but it usually goes down behind the scenes. As for themes, most things in HP are simplified, broken down in as basic a way as possible. The line between Good and Evil, black and white, is clearly drawn and it’s easy to tell which bracket each character falls under (yeah, yeah, except for Snape, okay). The Casual Vacancy, on the other hand, brings the gray area to the forefront and deals with the tough issues directly. Rape, suicide, self-mutilation, and abuse: this book has it all, and then some. You don’t just hear about evil, you see it, and it is brutal. Whereas Harry Potter centers around Good characters overcoming obstacles, The Casual Vacancy focuses on the those who’ve given up and resigned themselves to living in difficulty and frustration.

Rowling sets this novel in Pagford, a fictional town “cupped in a hollow between three hills, one of which was crested with the remains of the twelfth-century abbey. A thin river snaked around the edge of the hill through town, straddled by a toy stone bridge.” The lawns are well manicured, the houses grand, and the townspeople as polite as can be. Pagford is, for all appearances, an idyll. But as the book progresses, Rowling pushes past the superficiality surrounding Pagford and its inhabitants and shows us what’s really going on.

No one in this town is happy, everyone is unfulfilled. The people of Pagford strive to maintain an air of decorum, but in doing so they bite their tongues and build up grudges. They lie to others, but mostly they lie to themselves.

What this book aims to get at is the nature of truth, no matter how ugly it may be. The main concern is that of the authentic vs the inauthentic, a concern which Rowling explores through the character known as Fats. Here’s the crux of Fats’s ideology:

The mistake ninety-nine percent of humanity made, as far as Fats could see, was being ashamed of what they were; lying about it, trying to be somebody else… The difficult thing, the glorious thing, was to be who you really were, even if that person was cruel or dangerous, particularly if cruel and dangerous. There was courage in not disguising the animal you happened to be.

The novel oscillates between characters belonging to these two extremes, between those who are inauthentic and too worried by what others may think to do what they really feel (like Gavin, who strings his girlfriend along because he’s too scared to dump her) and those who are authentic and act on every instinct (like Simon, who has no filter and abuses his family, subjecting them to his will, and like Obbo, who, well… you’ll see). As Fats finds out the hard way, being authentic isn’t always glorious and acting purely out of self-interest can do more harm than good. The Casual Vacancy asks why people act the way they do, and explores the consequences of those actions (or lack thereof).

So now the main question: why read this book? Almost none of the characters are likable and nothing really gets resolved. It’s long and it’s depressing. It’s a hell of a downer and when it’s over you might need to watch a couple hours worth of YouTube videos of puppies playing with babies to make yourself feel better. But as unsettling as it is, this book also has its funny moments and is well told. Rowling knows people, knows the way they think, and is great at capturing the thought processes of her characters. We may not like them, but Rowing makes us understand them and sympathize with their situations.

Comparisons to Potter are inevitable, I’ve already done it, but the books are too different for me to say if one was better than the other — they’re just different, but not in a way that seems forced. Yes, the book is abundant with swears, but they’re used with the right characters in the right situations. Same for the sex. It can be lewd, but it’s always right for those scenes.

All that being said, despite the quality of the work, this book isn’t for everyone. If you want a book with action, this one isn’t for you. If you want a book with a happy ending, then this book is definitely not for you. But if you don’t mind a slower pace, you might like it. If you’re as concerned about why things happen as you are about what happens, you should give it a shot. If you just like good storytelling (albeit for a very, very sad story), this book is worth a read.

In case you want to know more about what The Casual Vacancy is about before making a purchase, Lev Grossman gave a much more insightful account of it for Time. Ditto to everything he says.

Grossman was also in attendance at Rowling’s reading last week and highlighted some of the more memorable moments of the talk. He ends his recap with a brief paragraph about the signing, stating, “Rowling is a pro—she signed, I would guess, about one book every five seconds, but she gave good eye contact, and she managed to communicate a lot of warmth in that very brief interaction.” That’s all true, but an understatement if I ever saw one.

I would be remiss to ignore the fact that while the reading was meant to promote The Casual Vacancy, nearly everyone who was there that night came just to be in the presence of She Who Penned Harry Potter. Admittedly, it was knowing that Rowling would be signing books that was the biggest draw for me. And why shouldn’t it be? I started reading the first book in the Potter series when I was in the fifth grade and the final one came out the summer after my first year of college. Why wouldn’t I want to meet the author I’d been reading for nearly half my life?

Rowling’s had a huge influence on my generation, so with this event being her only U.S. appearance, of course it would be attended by only her biggest superfans. I used to think I was a big HP fan, but it took being surrounded by some legit, hardcore Potterheads to realize that there is in fact much, much farther to go. The people in the row behind me rattled off trivia and traded obscure facts about the canon. There was talk of LeakyCon, StarKid, and Pigfarts. I had to Google these things, so obviously I am not the fangirl I thought was.

Living in New York, I’ve been lucky enough to have attended a good amount of book readings. This one was by far the most raucous of them all. Familiar with being a part of a subdued literary crowd, the exuberant audience that showed up for Rowling took a little bit of getting used to. I won’t deny that I’m a grumpy curmudgeon, or try to hide the fact that I got increasingly irritated by the sporadic cheers that erupted whenever Rowling mentioned anything even close to Potter or children’s books, but come on, it’s a Q&A — don’t you want to hear the As to your Qs??? I know you’re excited, but quit yelling and let her talk, jeeeeezzz….

/Grumps McGee

All this is to say, people were really excited to see Rowling, to hear her speak and to finally speak to her, even if only for just a few seconds. The signing guidelines handed out at the beginning of the event made it clear that Rowling wouldn’t sign anything other than The Casual Vacancy, but that didn’t stop some people from hoping she’d sign this copy of The Deathly Hallows, or that copy of the DVD. That’d be impossible though, what with all the ridiculously stringent security measures put in place by the event staff. They made it clear that the books given out at the event, and ONLY these books, were going to be signed.

I understand Rowling’s not wanting to sign any Potter paraphernalia, but I still don’t get why people who bought a copy of The Casual Vacancy before the reading couldn’t get that version signed. To ensure that Rowling only signed the copies that were handed out by the event staff, each of them had a shiny silver sticker, similar to the one you might find on a baseball cap, affixed to the series title page.

Check out the bottom left-hand corner.

After Rowling’s Q&A with Patchett, we were called outside a couple rows at a time for the book signing. There was a ticketing snafu that resulted in the event having nearly twice as many attendants as was originally planned, meaning that there were almost 2000 people in the theater. 2000! I was actually supposed to be in the Balcony in the first theater, and when a customer service rep called me to reassign my seat in the second theater, she said that if I were to be placed in a comparable seat I should’ve been placed in the Second Tier.  Fortunately, I lucked out and  the rep I got was really nice and asked if I wanted to sit in Orchestra Row H instead (um… yes!).

The signing started a little after 9 and, thanks to that extremely nice rep, I was out in the signing area by 9:30. Towards the back of the line everyone was giddy and jittery. They tested out their cameras and planned out what they were going to say to Rowling when they got to the signing table (“Tell her we went to see her at CBS yesterday!” “Tell her about how we saw her in London!” “But don’t sound like a stalker…” “Show her your tattoo!” etc., etc.). Towards the front of the line, it became hushed and reverent. You could hear every word between Rowling and the person she was signing for.

When the girl in front of me got to the signing table, she just fell apart and started crying her eyes out. Rowling reached across the table, held the girl’s hands, and thanked her for coming, which made the girl cry even harder. And then, before I knew it, the crying girl was gone and I was in front of the signing table. Rowling and I were face-to-face and I had to nothing to say. How could I sum up how much her writing influenced me in just a few seconds? Maybe the girl in front of me had it right, maybe crying was the only way to accurately show it.

Except I don’t cry, unless I’m laughing, and I didn’t want to laugh cause then it would look like I was laughing at the girl who was crying, which would be inconsiderate. I tried to think of something to say, but everything I came up with seemed clichéd, contrived, and insufficient. You were great tonight. You idiot, she’s great every night. I love your books. No shit. I love you. Crazy person.

Then my mind turned to mush. I forgot the rules of the English language completely and my thoughts about what to say to her went something like this: “You Queen write good. Love Harry. This different, but different good. Book sign, yes?”

The last thing I wanted was for Rowling to hear me talk with about as much competence as a caveman in an ESL class, so I just said, “Hi,” then handed her my copy of the book. She signed it, looked right up into my eyes, and smiled. That’s right, we made eye contact. Direct eye contact. Her eyes are the most incredible, brilliant shade of blue. They’re mesmerizing. I froze in front of the signing table for a few moments, her stare was just that hypnotizing. I’m not exaggerating. Go look around online, see how when people talk about about meeting her they all mention those magical eyes.

I’ve been to book signings before where the authors would scribble their names real quick, barely sparing you a word or glance. There were so many people waiting in line for this signing that as nice as Rowling seemed on stage, I expected her to do that as well. That long stare of hers caught me by surprise. Judging by the reactions linked to above, everyone else was similarly stunned. It’s kind of ridiculous how a gesture as simple as looking someone in the eye has the power to elicit that kind of reaction, but kudos to Rowling. With what limited time she had to spend with her fans, she was able to find a way to acknowledge and show her appreciation for every single person who came to the event. Saying she “gave good eye contact” just does not suffice.

But guys, seriously though. Those eyes. Just — damn. Her stare was so intense, it was like she was performing Legilimency on me. Like she could see into my soul. Yes, J.K. Rowling looked into my eyes and stared into my soul. My soul. Eventually I managed to gather my wits and remember that there were more than a thousand people still in the signing line behind me. I reached out for the book and said, “Thank you.” Rowling, still smiling, said, “You’re welcome,” and handed the book back to me. Our fingers grazed. OMG.

Then I headed down to the subway and for the whole 45 minute ride home I sat next to a guy who looked exactly like Colonel Sanders, if Colonel Sanders had a purple cane and a wore panama suit. Perfect way to end the night.