Writing at the Guardian, Jay Parini has a great review of Melville: His World and Work by my colleague Andrew Delbanco. Andy's reading at Brookline Booksmith on Nov. 16, an event I'm very much looking forward to.
Something about being out of NY makes me much, much more likely to go to cultural-event/reading-type things. Recently I saw a really good one at the Harvard Bookstore, my colleague Jim Shapiro speaking about his book A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599, which has been receiving glowing reviews all over the place (I'm too lazy to link)--haven't yet cracked the book open, but it looks great. Jim didn't read from the book; instead he spoke for ten or fifteen minutes and then took questions from the audience, and it was great, much more interesting to listen to than most readings. I was making mental notes: when I went around reading from my first novel, I had a few different ways of reading, one short piece for when I was on a program with other people and one main long one for when I was alone at a bookstore and one alternate long one that wasn't quite as racy as the first. Then I'd take questions afterwards. But in retrospect it was much too much reading aloud (it is tempting, I love reading aloud but as I don't much like being read aloud to, I should remember the needs of others), I should have just had the short excerpt and then done questions and conversation, which I like doing (I'm used to it from teaching & such) and is much more engaging for the audience to listen to. Consider this a resolution for the future, anyway.