Charles Baxter

Lives and loves in the wild Midwest

Eight years ago at a random rock show, I kept glancing over at one of the merchandise guys, who had his nose buried in a book the entire time. He didn’t look up once, not even for the band he was touring with. I eventually worked up the nerve to ask him what he was reading: “The Love Feast” was all he said before realizing I wasn’t going to buy a button, and going back to it. It actually was The Feast of Love, by Charles Baxter, and it opened my world anew to contemporary fiction. It’s a meta-story about the different kinds of love in the lives of some college-town Michigan characters, who seemed so effortlessly real, I was hurt that I couldn’t follow them further. I’m curious what Baxter thinks of the disappointingly saccharine, Morgan Freeman-led motion picture version of Feast that came out last year, and maybe I’ll ask him at this reading of his latest book (released February 12), The Soul Thief. Skilled at short stories (see A Relative Stranger) and novels alike, this author and longtime teacher has an uncanny grip on the yearnings, foolish mistakes, and unlikely triumphs of everyday people. And reportedly, he’s as compelling a reader as he is a writer. University Bookstore, 4326 University Way N.E., 545-3833, Free. 7 p.m. RACHEL SHIMP

Wed., Feb. 20, 7 p.m., 2008

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