Dear Portland, Please Don't Embarrass Me When Sam Lipsyte Comes to Town


Would if I could, as Lipsyte's on the very short list of readings I'd attend.

I continue to not understand the point of watching an author publicly read from his/her book and take questions, particularly now that the internet does book-hawking far better than book tours.
It's rewarding to see an author read live for the same reasons it's rewarding to see a band live, to see sports live, to see a comedian live, to travel somewhere, to do anything where there is no level of media between you and it.
*pointless internet argument alert*

All those things you listed are primary things. While there are exceptions, generally: a band's primary activity is to play music together, live. The band's recorded album is secondary. Sports are played live. Stand-up comedy is live. Travel is primarily about the experience of physically being in another place. You can say that all the secondary products of these things are just convenient, accepted ways to monetize the primary things: you can sell rock/comedy albums, and you televise sports and produce travel shows to sell TV ads and cable subscriptions.

An author's primary activity/talent is writing, not reading what he or she has written live. For a writer then, the writing is the primary artistic act - the tour is mostly about selling the book.

It should be said that obviously a writer can desire to broaden his or her market for it's own sake, aside from financial considerations, and I'm not arguing readings are not enjoyable or that writers/readers don't or shouldn't enjoy them.

They're just weird to me.
What about the oral tradition? Isn't that at the root of all writing and storytelling? I think it's false to setup these art forms in terms of primary and secondary modes of consumption, they are different, yes, and one might be more prevalent than the other, but I don't think that makes it better, it depends on the author/band/comedian and I imagine author readings seem weird to you because they are not how you normally experience a story.
I just hope Alison doesn't embarrass US.