In general, I usually avoid going to events where writers read their own works. Two reasons: a) the works in question are meant to be read, not declaimed nervously from behind a podium (and if the works were actually meant to be read aloud, why on earth is said writer not writing for the theatre instead of for the page?) and b) most writers suck ass at oratory and get all twitchy when forced to stand in front of people.
There are exceptions. Neil Gaiman is one. George Saunders is another. (A self-serving aside, here: I like reading my stuff aloud in front of audiences. It makes me feel like those years slaving away in dark theatres weren't a complete waste.)
Last night, Saunders read at the SUNY campus here. His spritely performance only bolstered his material --and made it clear why he's won so dang many awards. He's personable, Saunders is, and generous. He spoke of how he writes, where some of the seeds of his stories came from and what it's like to teach in the in Syracuse writing program.
Oh, and he read. First up was a short piece from The New Yorker about Guilty Pleasures. Then the first third of "The Barber's Unhappiness" from Pastoralia. Saunders closed the evening with My Flamboyant Grandson, also from The New Yorker. Grandson, additionally, seems to be the only piece of fiction that is partially set in Oneonta, a place where Saunders had never been before last night.
On a personal *squee* note, he also signed my Very Persistant Gappers of Frip I always feel like such a geek asking writers to sign stuff. Still, I'm glad I did.
You may now return to your previously scheduled surfing...
One more thing...it's snowing here. Big fat flakes, heavy winds -- damn scenic and vaguely festive.