A very instructive evening, or part thereof. Our Youngest Member (pun fully intended) held forth and held court in a coffee bar with picture windows. He played on the audience like a stringed instrument, he truly did. Examples:
1 - Earnest Young Lady asks his views on the film version. The Duck dimples (all right, he doesn’t have to have a real dimple to dimple at a fan, gerrit?) and confesses that he would want full creative control, and of course nobody’s making the film just yet. Aforesaid EYL says most emphatically, “I (with reverb – I – I – I –I!!!) shall make the film!” (Almost audible sub-text: AND HAVE YOUR BABIES TOO!) She thereafter retires in some confusion, possibly due to realization of how audible the sub-text was.
2 - Earnest Young Man rises thrice to ask THREE separate questions about (a) Japanese root of Kirin’s name (whereupon Ducky proves cool credentials by mentioning Japanese beer) (b) the Duck of Destiny (c) something about inspiration. Ducky answers at some length, sounds modestly erudite. After the reading, EYM shuffles round and round until he has at least five autographed copies of the book.
Aside: the Duck is most concerned that some members of the reading public seek to avoid becoming members of the paying public. To wit, that some are sneaking out of the store with copies of the book NOT PAID FOR! Reassured that electronic surveillance (as noted in the bathroom) prevents this (and thereby safeguards his share of Rs. 13.65 per copy), he lapses back into a sofa with a sigh and signs another 37 copies in rapid succession.
3 – Old Gentleman asks the Duck about (I kid you not) the time of day when he does his writing. Ducky mentions that the second book was written at all hours because he “was very lonely at the time”. Concerned store-owner winces as plaster falls from ceiling due to decibel level of a hundred female voices (aunties, almost-aunties, never-will-be-aunties, wish-we-had-had-such-aunties et al) going “Aaaawwwwwwww!!”. (Ducky puts delicate hand to pensive cheek, entire effect says “I KNOW I had a dimple there this morning!”)
In all fairness, he did side-step a question about his pre-occupation with furred and feathered avatars. (During the reading, he claimed to be a lizard, in addition to the Duck and Cat forms we know)
Being a Philistine, I was more concerned with Observing Situations Too Funny for Words than with Imbibing the Wisdom of the Gods. Couldn’t help but be impressed, though, by the scope of the Duck’s imagination and industry. I mean, 800-odd meticulously plotted pages so far, interweaving of several species of fantastic creatures, erudite references to sources as diverse as Hindu myth and Terry Pratchett (that Game passage was SO “Small Gods”), a build-up to a (probably) conclusive third volume. I admire intelligence but I am totally awed by systematic work. (And all this fantasy without once mentioning Salma Hayek or whipped cream, such restraint)
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have in our midst this evening …
Hmmm. Star quality, no doubt about it.