Dennis Lehane 'sucked at everything' until he discovered writing
Dennis Lehane, who we last saw at the 2004 BookExpo America, brought a kind of brutal honesty and self criticism, salted with humor, to the BEA 2008 annual Sunday breakfast panel, which shouldn't be a surprise given the gritty suspense novels he writes about his hometown Boston hardscrabble neighborhoods. Introduced by Jon Stewart's Daily Show funnyman John Hodgeman, Lehane began by introducing his new blockbuster, The Given Day (william Morrow; September, 2008) as a big book, not to be confused with a 'doorstop.' Lehane then traced his path to bestselling author by recalling the first book he ever read (Smokey the Bear) and what learning to read meant to him. Saying he 'sucked at everything,' Lehane told the story of how he started writing and offered insights into how he overcame the challenges of a writing career. Lehane concluded his remarks with an impassioned belief in the ineluctable value of books and the long-term future of book publishing. A member of PEN/Faulkner, Lehane also took time out from promoting his new novel at BEA to give a reading at a special PEN Writers Against the Surveillance State session, featuring ten top authors and performing artists protesting the Bush Administration's Patriot Act and domestic spying programs.
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