Books are written in solitude, but writers do some of their finest work with crowds—in public talks, interviews, and events. The best moments from those strange, dramatic interactions often go missing, however: either they’re never recorded, or nobody will ever find the recordings. Fortunately, the New York State Writers Institute at the University at Albany has been methodically recording thousands of writers’ events since 1983, when it was founded by the novelist William Kennedy.
The future of in-person author events seems shaky after years of remote book talks. What happens if we no longer have bookstore readings, library lectures, and interviews before live audiences? Jonathan Franzen tells Adam Colman in this episode, “If we lose live book events, I would experience it as a great loss.” He describes here the humor, community, and conversation at those gatherings.