Let me make something clear: I would (and did, before I knew) love Markus Zusak even if he were ugly. I would love him if we were old and disfigured or a woman with bad breath and by love I mean respect, appreciate, esteem, and admire. It doesn't matter to me. I'm in--I'm all in--with anyone who could write The Book Thief.
I was prepared to be a little disappointed. What if he's a jerk? What if he's not funny? What if writing the book was a fluke? What if he just got really, really lucky writing the book but in real life he's kind of a thoughtless buffoon? As it turns out, he is delightful, insightful, modest, entertaining, charming, obliging, appreciative, interesting, and unpretentious. He read the exact passage I had re-read the night before and he got a little choked up. It was a genuine treat. At that moment I thought, "Right now is what I love. This is my favorite. Other times I'm bored or stressed out or depressed or not having fun but right now is just what I like."
It was great to be there with hundreds of people who love the book as much as I do--my peeps, if you will. When Zusak came in, I couldn't believe he could write such a soulful book because he is so young and slight. It's kind of like how I don't really expect skinny people to be good moms. I only got fat after I started having kids so my mom-gravitas is all tied up with being chubby. It's incorrect, of course. Then again, if I'd been thin the whole time I've been a mom maybe I would never have become as humble and selfless as I am now. A body shaper has been my crucible. But I didn't tell Markus Zusak that!