27-year-old Leigh Stein visited Chapel Hill this evening to read from her first novel The Fallback Plan (Melville) at Flyleaf Books. Of course, as the adage goes, “write what you know.” Stein wrote about a twentysomething who moves back in with her parents in the Lilac Capital of the World. Yes, Stein has that autobiographical experience. I have not yet read her book, but from the passages she shared, I closely identified with references that I think other twentysomethings will smile and nod at knowingly. (If you’re in your 20s and have helped your parents learn how to right-click on the computer, then have them tell you to slow down while they take notes on the complicated art of basic computer use–you will very much identify with Stein’s main character, Esther.) The narrative is quirky with a little snark, and pokes fun at the reality of transitioning into an adult-child. Of course, there are random tales spun in the novel about pandas, which may not be a common thread in the life of someone in their 20s…but how can you not smile for a panda?
A surprise treat at the reading was hearing some of Stein’s poetry. The few she shared were created based on found poetry. She uses lines from reality television shows to unveil the “hidden profound” poetry laced into different episodes of “The Bachelor” and “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” I love found poetry!
What I thought was interesting about Stein’s writing career is that she never had to query for an agent. Her agent found her–through her blog! This underscores the advice I heard at the Atlanta Writers Conference: Agents don’t want to work with authors who don’t have a blog.
Stein’s visit was accessible, intelligent and FUN. When signing her book she said I looked familiar, and I agreed I thought I had met her somewhere before. Plus, we both have big ears. (Stein chronicles her own big ear journey in an essay in February 2012’s Allure Magazine.) We can’t figure out how we know each other, but the next time she visits the Triangle, which may be this summer when her first collection of poetry is published, I can say, “Hey, I saw you at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill!”
If you’re in the Raleigh-Durham area, check out Leigh Stein’s reading at Quail Ridge Books, Friday, January 27th at 7:30PM.