I am an avowed fan of the non-fiction author Simon Winchester, having quite favorably reviewed two of his books on this very blog. (Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded and The Map that Changed the World) I have also read and enjoyed his book on the San Francisco Earthquake, The Crack at the Edge of the World and one of his two works on the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary, The Professor and the Madman. Winchester is a true lover of knowledge, his books are impeccably researched, and he loves to share the fruits of that research with the reader. He litters his books with little nuggets and asides, so that a book nominally about geology could include bits and pieces about history, food, biology, economics, personalities, or any other little tidbit he turned up in his research.
Being an avowed fan of his work, I was very lucky indeed to have been browsing at The Tattered Cover today during lunch. For those not familiar with Denver, The Tattered Cover is our premier independent bookstore and often hosts book readings and signings. In my lunch time sojourn I learned that not only did Winchester have a new book out, The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom , but he was to give a presentation about the book, and sign copies this very evening.
I have of course recently come from the event, and I have to say that Mr. Winchester is just as learned and personable in the flesh as he is on the page. His presentation shared much with his writing, as no tangent was was left untrod, and he peppered his look at the long and varied life of Cambridge professor Joseph Needham with dozens of excellent anecdotes. I have my signed copy just waiting to be devoured, so I suppose I'm lucky that the weekend is nigh. I suppose I will have to review it here after I am done!