Rains came, but spirits undampened among Miami Book Fair crowd

 

cogle@miamiherald.com

It was a dark and stormy night.

But while rain soaked much of South Florida Thursday night, readers at Miami Book Fair International stayed dry for awhile with a couple of good storytellers.

Both “Evenings With...” authors thanked the audience for braving the storm as the fair organizers prepared for the opening of the street fair Friday (it runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday).

“I’m crossing my fingers all the authors’ books haven’t been washed away,” joked Mitchell Kaplan.

Fittingly, novelist Wally Lamb was up first to talk about his new book We Are Water, about a troubled family, the corrosive power of secrets and a real flood that happened in his hometown of Norwich, Ct., in 1963.

“I can still in my ears hear the roar of the water,” said Lamb, who was 12 at the time. He incorporated the flood into the back story of one of his characters.

He went on to read passages from the points of view of a divorced couple, their adult son and Dr. Laura Schlessinger (who makes a brief but unforgettable appearance in the book). Bad things often happen in Lamb’s books, but he’s not always happy about it. He said that though he wants things to work out well for his characters, he can never be sure they will.

“ I tend to be a glass half full person in my own life,” he said. But “I don’t feel I have control over their story.”

Terry McMillan - famous for the novels Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back, both of which have been made into movies - also thanked the audience for coming out and confessed she had her own struggles on the way to Miami: She’d been battling a bout of food poisoning and hadn’t even managed to get her nails done.

But she too brought a lively character to life as she read a charming passage from her latest novel, Who Are You?: Second grader Luther, who has been sent with his little brother to live with their grandparents while his drug-addict mother gets herself together.

So the rain came down, but the stories flowed. All in all, a good trade-off.

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