I have attended literally hundreds of author readings. "Attended" is the wrong word. Hosted, is more like it. As manager of the Bull's Head Bookshop, I've hosted readings for authors who are real authors and authors who know that they are not real authors and authors who are not real authors but think that they are. (This last sentence was after Getrude Stein from her "Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas," an amusing book.)
Some readings are memorable because of author quirkiness. Dave Eggers, for example, asked our store to provide him with a cot (he claimed exhaustion) and then read from said cot. Chuck Palahniuk's ardent wish that his selection would gross someone out to the point that s/he fainted came true. Ethan Hawke autographed a young woman's stomach, at her request.
Some readings are memorable because of the charm of the author and selection as well as the way s/he reads it. Mark Salzman read from his beautiful "Lying Awake" and then told a wittily self-deprecating story about his cat and some aluminum foil. Abraham Verghese read from his inestimable "My Own Country" and then
listened carefully to the AIDS stories of every tearful person in the long line. Zadie Smith read beautifully from her beautiful book "On Beauty" in her beautiful accent looking totally beautiful. Kaye Gibbons did her first reading ever from her first novel, "Ellen Foster," at the Bull's Head.
I've attended enough readings to want to make mine the charming, not-too-long,
not-too-serious sorts of them. I'm all about trying for amusing. I'm not afraid of a
little well-placed coarseness. (My novel is about a wet nurse. A little coarseness is going to be hard to avoid. I may as well embrace it.)
In light of all this, I'm hoping for some help. I need every synonym I can get my hands on (if you will) for the word, "breast." Every one. All of them. I hope I can depend upon you all for your support in what is sure to be an titillating endeavor. I thank you.