Joshua Shifrin

June 11th, 2011
Event Recap 6/11/11 Joshua Shifrin

Greetings ladies, gentlemen, and creatures of all shapes and
sizes.  This past Saturday was the most recent in our Face
the Fiction series, with Special Guest Joshua Shifrin at our
favorite haunt, Well Read Books!  The evening started early
for some, as we began aggregating in the store around 7p.  
Chris, Kate, Aurelia, Thom, and Todd entertained themselves
and had a great conversation about everything from books to
movies to Congressman Weiner's cover-up (or inability to
cover crucial bits up as the case may be).  Our little circle of
silliness was joined by the estimable Amir, and eventually
Josephine and Liz chimed in as well.  Many laughs were had,
and much ado was made.

Joshua arrived about 8pm and we got down to serious
business almost immediately: discussing the pros and cons of
He-Man and Thundar the Barbarian.  Yes, I am serious.  Kate
pointed out that the dragon from Thundar was really
beautifully drawn, and we discussed the merits of bad
cartoons from the 1980's.  Some folks even shouted, "Ride
Ookla, ride!" though I will leave it to you to guess who those
disturbed folks might have been
(cough/toddandannmarie/cough).  Additionally, some weighty
conversation was directed at the importance of being a
wealthy waterfowl, and why Duck Tales is still fun.

Eventually, we turned the spotlight on Joshua, who, in a fit of
personal bravery, admitted that this was his first Book
Discussion meeting and signing... ever.  The SFSNNJ, long
known for all its firsts, helped our guest along,k and made
Joshua feel welcome.  So welcome, in point of fact, that we
ran past closing time for our friends at Well Read Books!  
Oooops!  I am sure Bill and Maryanne will forgive us.

At any rate, Joshua took us on a tour of the background that
informed his novel, Chasing Victory.  The story began with his
own frustrations with the learning process and the fact that,
while he was in the advanced English class, he still
considered himself a poor student among better peers.  I
wonder how many of said peers have been published, and I
would be willing to bet that Joshua is the only one of his
peers to have such a contribution.  By any road, we wound
our way through College and Kibbutz-life in Israel, which led
to Joshua's father's writing career.

What has this to do with Chasing Victory, you might very well
ask?  Well, Joshua explained that receiving the chapters of
his father's book (Misconception: The Hamlet Experiment)
helped him realize that he would like to write something, but
he was unsure what to do about that urge.  It was not until
years later, at a Tennis Tournament in Connecticut, that a
friend recommended that he write a book about Tennis.  This
invariably led to Joshua's writing 101 Incredible Moments in
Tennis, which rocketed to the top of the lists
very quickly.  Success in the UK led Joshua to reach out to
some better publishing houses in Britain, which then led to
Joshua moving from Self Published author to Published Author
status, and even more success with his Tennis book.  

Yes, Todd, but what does that have to do with Chasing
Victory?  Joshua further expanded that the Tennis book led to
some other writing efforts, including a study guide, and his
father's encouragement, in conjunction with his own modest
successes, led to him writing Chasing Victory.  This, then led
to a discussion of the story itself, with Joshua explaining the
setup and characters with animated zest.  I won't go into
details here, but we learned all the nuances of the setup and
its execution.

Moving on to questions and discussion, many of us asked
Joshua about his process for writing.  Early in the talk, Joshua
expressed a love of the process of writing, and Thom was
interested if Joshua was more interested in the process or
the product.  Joshua explained that he does love the finished
product as much as the process of creating it, and that it is
great to have something to show and share for the work that
goes into it.  When asked the standard Music or Silence
question, Joshua indicated a preference for silence, but did
not mind low music with no distracting lyrics.  Kate, Aurelia,
and several others noted some comparisons to the classic
tale Flowers for Algernon and the discussion moved into a
comparison/contrast of the setup and execution of the two
books.  Some further discussion was tendered on influences,
and the impact of reviews.

Truly, I think that we would have continued on for some time
longer had not a certain dashing young line cutter who is so
totally not me, mentioned that it was getting late and we
needed to get a move on so people could buy books and get
them signed before the store closes (technically closing time
was about ten minutes before, but hey, what can you do).  
Some of us ran up and grabbed copies of the book, and
those with quick reflexes got themselves to the head of the
line by hook or by crook (you snooze, you loose, Hasselkus).  
We stood around chatting with Joshua for a while before
sending him home to his wife and sons while we adjourned
to the Land & Sea Diner for comestibles and chatting.

Topics of conversation at the Land and Sea included Bizarre
Movie Silliness, SyFy junk films, fun and excitement with Game
of Thrones, and much more.  I would report on what
everyone had to eat, but that would just make me hungry.

Tune in next month when Face the Fiction divides like
multiplying cells, to cover two geographically diverse events:
Join Todd, Paul, and many others at NJSFS's annual
Bar-be-Con at Waywayonda State Park (contact me through
the website "Contact Us" button if you need a ride and I will
see what can be arranged).  Should be a fun day of enjoying
nature and the company of other Fans!

Join Josephine, and many others at Well Read Books for a
night of TV and Movie discussions, and some special fun.

Keep in mind: August brings us King of Games Day, and we
have a lot of cool stuff planned this year (then again, when
don't we)!