Dying to Meet You


Lauren Baratz-Logsted

At the outset this may seem fairly tangential in terms of books but I’m leading a tangential life these days so please bear with me.

Back in my freshman year at UCONN there lived a girl on my floor who was pretty wild. For the sake of anonymity, let’s call her Wild Girl. Wild Girl had one ambition, one person she was dying to meet. She set out to achieve her goal by boarding a weekend rally bus to Brown University so she could see John F. Kennedy Jr. play soccer. She somehow managed to discover where he lived and was waiting outside his door when he got home.

”You’re-you’re-y-y-y-you’re John F. Kennedy Jr.!” she managed to splutter out.

Well, he did know that already.

Wild Girl went on to splutter out the rest of her story: how her sister’s one person she wanted to meet was Joe Namath, and how her sister had achieved that dream; how he was her one person.

By all accounts he was very kind to her. He listened to her rave, talked to her long enough to calm her down, and then put her back on the bus.

Me, I’ve never been celebrity gaga. Some people would say that’s a shame since during the eleven years I worked as a bookseller at Klein’s of Westport it seemed nearly every notable celebrity came in at one point or another—a slight exaggeration, but only slight. Who passed through my doors? You may well ask. A partial list would include: Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Robert Redford, Christopher Walken, Keith Richard, Donna Summer, Whoopi Goldberg, Andy Rooney, Jim McKay, Michael Bolton, Frank Converse, Mason Adams, Brett Somers, Jack Klugman, Jane Powell, Tom Berenger (my boss didn’t know who he was but thought he was cute and tried to set up my girlfriend with him), Linda Blair, Patty Hearst. When I say the list goes on, I mean it really goes on.

We don’t have to talk about Martha Stewart.

And yet with all those celebrities, I never once asked for an autograph and the only two times I even acknowledged that I knew who I was waiting on was Christopher Plummer, because I’d just seen him do Macbeth live and wanted to thank him for his performance; and the girl from Animal House who pretends in the movie to be eighteen even though she’s only twelve, because it was bugging me about where I knew her smile from. She did toothpaste commercials too, she said. I still don’t remember her name.

See, the thing is, the only celebrities I’ve ever been gaga about meeting are the kind that the majority of the world might not even regard as celebrities. I’m talking, of course, about authors.

I’m the girl who the first time she went to Book Expo America vaulted over a velvet rope so I could tell Martin Amis, who was sitting at a table alone with his publicist waiting for the action to begin, how he was the one author of all those assembled I cared most to meet. I must say, he failed to look sufficiently impressed with this declaration of a compliment. As a matter of fact, he looked a little scared of me.

I’m the girl who the following year pulled the same stunt on Nick Hornby, sans velvet rope. He had so many people in his queue he was only signing his name, no personalizations. But he at least was sufficiently impressed with my declaration to personalize mine and I have the copy of A Long Way Down to prove it. It reads, lovingly, “To Lauren – Nick Hornby.” Yes, well.

And I’m definitely the girl who once tripped Michael Crichton at the Edgar Awards so he’d stop long enough for me to tell him how much fun I’d had hand-selling Jurassic Park back in my bookseller days. Just so you know, there’s no thanks for the crazy.

Gee, though, looks like I’m my own brand of Wild Girl.

And as you can see, we’ve finally come full circle, as promised, to where we began with Wild Girl.

Wild Girl didn’t want to meet every celebrity in the world. She didn’t want to be me working at Klein’s. She just wanted to meet one. So I started to ask myself: If I could only meet one author, who would I want to meet?

I immediately rejected Shakespeare and F. Scott Fitzgerald, obvious choices as they may be, because they’re dead. And while I might dream about meeting the dead, that’s not going to happen while I’m still alive.

Once I got the dead out of the way, the answer was obvious. If I could meet one living author, just one, that author would be—drum roll, please! —

Arturo Perez-Reverte. 

I give this answer for three reasons:

One, while many authors have given me entertainment and enlightenment with their various books, no other author has consistently given me so much sheer joy across the range of their books.

Two, the writing, while often dealing with dark events, still manages to be suffused with an irrepressible writerly joy. You can tell the person penning the words is fully alive. Have you ever seen the smile in this guy’s author photo? I admire anyone who can have spent part of their career as a war correspondent and still have a smile like that.

Three, he loves women. That sounds small, but it’s not really. Mr. Perez-Reverte writes literary thrillers. How many men writing in this area regularly feature incredibly strong women at the center of their stories? Women who are as complex, adventurous, intelligent, brave and noble as any man they create. When you’ve got that list, give me a call. I won’t be waiting.

If you have not read Mr. Perez-Reverte’s novels yet, I recommend you do. I suggest you start where I did with The Flanders Panel, a neat mystery within a mystery within yet another mystery involving a painting of a chess game, a five-hundred-year-old murder, and contemporary intrigue. You can take it yourself from there.

Now, I do realize my BiblioBuffet column is not like a blog where you can talk back to me. Still, a post like this requires some sort of reader response other than “Huh, that was interesting” or “Man, that’s five minutes of my life I wish I could have back.” So as you leave me, I leave you with the question to ask yourself in your own mind:

If you could only meet one living author, who would it be and why?

Books featured in this column:
A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby (Riverhead, 2005)
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (Knopf, 1990)
The Flanders Panel by Arturo Perez-Reverte (Houghton Mifflin, 1994)

Win a free copy of Crazy Beautiful! We will be giving away a copy of her latest young adult novel, Crazy Beautiful, to this week’s lucky winner. To enter, send us an e-mail with your name. That’s it. For this drawing, all names received on or before Friday, April 30 will be entered, and the winner’s name will be drawn that evening. We will notify the winner over the weekend. Only one entry per person, please. (We apologize to our international readers, but due to high postage costs we can only mail books to U.S. addresses.) There is no obligation, and your name and address will not be saved by BiblioBuffet or used for any purpose other than mailing the books.


Lauren Baratz-Logsted has sold twenty books to six publishers since 2003. Her published novels include The Thin Pink Line and Vertigo for adults; Crazy Beautiful for teens, Me, In Between for tweens; and the first five of The Sisters 8, a nine-book series for young readers, co-written with her novelist husband Greg Logsted and their nine-year-old daughter Jackie. In the year 2010 she'll have four more books published, including two more titles in The Sisters 8 series, The Education of Bet for teens and one more teen title. Lauren still lives in Danbury, CT, where she writes and reads pretty much all the time. You can read more about Lauren’s life and work (and contact her) at her personal website and the Sisters 8 site. Contact Lauren.



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