Monday, July 15, 2013

Doc Gooden and Raul Esparza Visit the Reading Room

We are lucky to have two all stars in the Bryant Park Reading Room sponsored by HSBC this week, as well as a full calendar of other events for kids, historians, writers, and film-buffs alike.

Want to go beyond the diamond with Mets great Doc Gooden?  Join Dwight “Doc” Gooden in the Reading Room Wednesday as he shares tales of World Series triumphs and off-field excesses drawn from his new book, Doc: A Memoir. This inspiring and heartbreaking account covers Gooden’s sixteen seasons in baseball, two-decade long cocaine addiction, and eventual rehabilitation on Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew.

And don't forget the first person to arrive for the event after 12pm, find the Reading Room Coordinator and say the secret passcode: Play Ball will win a copy of Doc's memoir. The Reading Room is open weather permitting 11am to 7pm. Books available courtesy of publishers, while supplies last.

Word for Word Author
Dwight "Doc" Gooden
Wednesday, July 17
12:30pm - 1:45pm
Bryant Park Reading Room sponsored by HSBC

On Tuesday, Broadway, film and television star Raul Esparza leads our Word for Word BookClub discussion on The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. This four-time Tony award nominee has a close personal connection to the novel, as he describes below. Read on to find out what makes it so special for him, as well as other literary fun facts about the actor.

Word for Word BookClub
Tuesday, July 16
12:30pm - 1:45pm
Bryant Park Reading Room sponsored by HSBC
**Relocated for today to Le Carrousel**

What was your inspiration for this book?
This is the first book I remember my father giving me to read. It was, he said, his favorite book growing up. It’s an easy read. I was a boy in middle school. I fell in love with the world and the drama of it. I used to act out the story. It’s a swashbuckler so it appealed to the tree-climbing dreamer in me, living close to the beach in Miami, imagining my own treasure islands and daring escapes and intricate 10 year old revenges. I also had a Spanish teacher who used to insist that we learn to be on time like The Count of Monte Cristo; this is a harder task for a Cuban boy than it would seem to be on the surface, but the idea of arriving melodramatically as the last bell tolls the exact hour always appealed to me in theory.

I’ve read this book over and over in my life. As a boy. As a teenager. In my 20s and 30s. It changes, like all great writing, depending on when you come to the novel. It’s not an adventure story to me anymore. It is in reality a much darker kind of epic, dripping blood and acid and regret. But, of course, as a child, I had no idea this was the core of the novel all along.

And so the book lives as two experiences at once for me: first, as an inspiration for a boy to become an extraordinary man, perhaps someone who dreams of transforming himself constantly, as I have chosen to do in my life professionally, and then also, as a warning that the bitterness we hold onto in our lives and the fantasy of revenge that we all engage in at some point whenever we are deeply and truly hurt will always transform us, mold us into something, perhaps, that we do not wish to be, change us fundamentally in a dangerous ricochet we may not even notice until we have failed to live today because we have wasted all our life mourning what we used to have yesterday.

Where do you do your best writing?
At the top of mountains at the end of hiking trails next to waterfalls in the Rockies, and in the corners of old theaters annotating scripts and making up lives for characters I’m playing during breaks from rehearsals
Though that’s not really a question for me, is it?

Which author do you wish had been your 7th grade English teacher?
Anne Lamott cause she’s honestly funny and heartbreakingly honest and I think she would be a teacher who would make English such a cool, wild, inspiring class to attend. That Spanish teacher I mentioned earlier, Beatriz Jimenez, I had her from 7th grade to 11th; she was one of those.

What is your secret talent?
I can sing pretty well.

What is your favorite book?
The Waves by Virginia Woolf though I don’t think she would have been a fun teacher at all and I couldn't possibly ask anyone to come discuss this painful masterpiece for an hour under the trees in a park. We’d never get past the first ten pages or we’d sit around midtown in a deep existential funk.

Do you prefer writing on a computer or longhand?
Writing on a computer is too cold
Pen in hand, unedited and uncensored, is a better way to get the heart of things, I think, and go past what you expected to create, especially when riffing about ideas for a performance or engaging in the kind of Rorschach test needed to fill in the spaces a great playwright leaves for an actor to climb into but you don’t care about that do you?

What book are you currently reading? (Old school or e-Reader?)
I read too many books at once. For today:
Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner (old school)
Wild by Cheryl Strayed (iPad, wish I’d bought the hard copy)
Religion for Atheists by Alain de Boton (old school)

What word or punctuation mark are you most guilty of overusing?

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
If I weren’t an actor, I might just be a writer. (I had figured I’d be a lawyer, but I’m not. I just play one on TV.)

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