Thursday was a pretty eventful day for me. I traveled to Russellville that afternoon to do some ACT prep with about 50 juniors and then traveled on to Nashville to the Nashville Public Library to hear Erin Morgenstern read from her amazing novel, The Night Circus. I can't say enough good things about this novel -- I listed it as one of my Top 10 Reads of 2011, and in all honesty, it's in the Top 3. Yep. That good.
Erin was completely adorable and funny and smart and talkative; she read a small vignette from the novel (and I totally picked up on some things in the vignette that I didn't catch the first time around because of the overlapping linear narratives -- this is not a bad thing, but it does mean that I'm now itching to go back and reread the book). After that, she answered questions. She talked a lot about art (she's a visual artist), theatre, book design, movies, and influences on the novel. She spent a lot of time talking about the evolution of the novel, which she started in 2005 as part of NaNoWriMo; initially there was, according to her, this Edward Gorey kind of thing going on, with characters in weird fur coats. But at some point she started getting bored, so she took the characters to the circus. That's when the circus from the novel was born, and she spent much of the rest of the time writing about it. There's so much that's visual about her writing when it comes to the circus, and after listening to her talk about her painting process, it's evident that this background strongly influenced the novel too.
She named a couple of my favorite novels as influences on the book's structure: Susannah Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Christopher Priest's The Prestige, and Alan Lightman's Einstein's Dreams. After the reading, while getting my book signed, I told her how much I loved Lightman's novel, and she proceeded to gush about his new book -- which means one more thing to add to my TBR list.
If you've read the novel, you know that the followers of the circus call themselves reveurs and dress in black and white (with a dash of red -- typically a scarf). Two little boys attended the reading with their dad and came dressed appropriately. They each got their own copy of the book signed and had their photo taken with Erin Morgenstern; such a cool thing for their dad to encourage. Everyone was absolutely in love with them.
The fun doesn't stop there, though. The weather was pretty terrible in Nashville -- heavy rain and a dense fog. Combine that with interstate traffic and lots of semi trucks, and you've got one sucky driving experience. I took it slow, though, and was soon out of Nashville and headed home. I was starving, though, so I stopped in Clarksville to grab a bite to eat. While I was waiting in the drive-thru, I checked Twitter and saw that the bridge closest to Murray that crosses Kentucky Lake was struck by a cargo ship and had collapsed. This is one of the bridges that I would need to cross to get home, the same bridge I had crossed just hours earlier on my way to Russellville from Murray -- a bridge I use weekly to travel to and from several of the schools I work with. Luckily, I saw the tweet before I traveled through LBL and had to turn around to find a detour; instead, I just headed north of the LBL area and took the interstate bridge. It wasn't too far out my way, but I was counting my blessings that I wasn't on the bridge when it was struck (that could've easily been the case, had I been slowed down by bad weather or stopped to eat in Clarksville) or didn't come up on it before emergency crews responded.