The Chomp

The Student News Site of Gateway Regional High School

The Chomp

The Student News Site of Gateway Regional High School

The Chomp

The Student News Site of Gateway Regional High School

Meeting a Literary Hero

Who is your favorite author?
Laurel Rose Barrett
A photo Laurel took from the audience of Ann and Eric in deep conversation.

This December I had the incredible opportunity to meet one of my literary heroes, Ann Patchett–the author of some of my favorite essays, best-selling novels, and a beautiful memoir!

On a road trip back from a college visit, I was perusing her website when I noticed that she was making an appearance with essayist R. Eric Thomas in Baltimore a couple of weeks later to discuss her novel, Tom Lake, and his essay collection, Congratulations, The Best is Over!.

It was on a school night, and I knew it would be sleepy the morning after, but I decided to start working on my dad to persuade him to take me. It took lots of convincing and a great deal of excited patience on my part, but I got him to crack! He wasn’t familiar with her work, but as an appreciator of literature, he thought it would be a worthy adventure. 

He also was relieved that I was begging to go to a moderately-priced book-talk rather than the Taylor Swift Eras Tour – haha!

There is no explaining this simple truth about life: you will forget much of it. Tom Lake

— Ann Patchett

I underestimated the eagerness of the rest of the guests, most of whom were 60+ to my surprise, and found that I had to butt my way to the front to get a good seat, even after we passed up food to be early! Once we found our seats, I excitedly examined the signed copies of both books while I waited for the literary heroes to walk out. The church was completely packed, and everyone was ready!

When Ann and Eric finally walked down to the front of the stage, applause erupted from the pews, and they began with introductions. Ann recounted her early life and career as an essayist and writer, and Eric hilariously gushed over the fact that he too was meeting his literary idol! The pair hysterically bantered throughout the entire event. 

I was extremely impressed with Ann’s eloquence as she spoke about her career and told stories about her interesting life. The crowd was particularly surprised when she discussed her disdain with technology. She revealed that she doesn’t even have a phone! That was when my tech-fearing father realized that he may like Ann Patchett too. Eric, like the rest of us, was flabbergasted and conceded to his chronic scrolling problem. 

I was amused to hear about Ann’s encounters with other essayists I learned about in AP Lang, like Malcolm Gladwell. I am glad that I read her essays prior to this talk, as I had a basis for most of her stories! I had read her novel, Tom Lake, when it was released in August, but was very interested to hear about her writing process and what went behind the decisions in the novel. 

By the end of the event, I was extremely happy that I got to attend and am looking forward to further published pieces from both of them! I immediately started on Congratulations, The Best is Over! the next morning!

Often, it feels like so many of us who are considered “other” don’t have narrative or political value beyond the worst parts of our lives. But I know that we are more than that. I know that we can choose to share what is hard or choose to share some piece of our joy and hope, and the work is worthy either way. – Congratulations, The Best is Over

— R. Eric Thomas


As I was waiting for my dad at the exit, I overheard a woman say, “After that I love her even more!”

If you have an author that you particularly enjoy reading the works of, I recommend that you go on their or their publisher’s websites to look for events! The majority of them are free or cheap, and so worth the adventure!

You can also always look for virtual events as well!

Who is your favorite author that you would love to meet? Share in the comments!

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About the Contributor
Laurel Rose Barrett
Laurel Rose Barrett, Editor-in-Chief
I'm Laurel Barrett, and I am in my second year as the Editor-in-Chief of The Chomp! I am currently a junior, and my favorite subjects are English and Science. My hobbies are reading, writing, and creating artistic projects, like posters and models. I am a lawyer in Mock Trial, a President of Book Club, and I am an NJ-JCL Executive Board Officer. I'm also a member of Latin Club, NHS, World Language Honors Society, and Gateway's Mentor Program. Additionally, I am the social media manager of a NJ non-profit called P.U.R.E. Girls, Inc. and enjoy volunteering at Angels Community Outreach. I plan to become a patent lawyer in the future and practice somewhere in New England. I look forward to interviewing featured teachers, writing opinion pieces, and creating book reviews for The Chomp this year! If you want to join our team, feel free to email me @[email protected].
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