The U bookstore was packed, and I overheard employees saying they had never had as big a response. The crowd was more varied than I expected. Two sorority girls walked in and I thought they were lost, but they immediately picked up books, chose a spot along the shelves and stayed for GRRM's talk. The event started with the typical jokes about "Jordanizing" a series, and the 5 year wait. GRRM started up talking about turn outs at signings, and I assumed he'd go into the St.Louis -4 story, but instead he talked about a Dallas signing. He had had lackluster showings at his signings but when he got to the Dallas bookstore, the lot was full and quite a few people seemed headed into the bookstore, but it turned out there were two signings that day, George's and Clifford the Big Red Dog. Apparently "Clifford" was a big mascot suit with the most junior bookstore employee inside stamping his paw on a giant inkpad and then onto kids books. Clifford drew about 200, George got 2. This story got huge laughs. He followed up with the -4 story and this got great laughs too. The man is an amazing storyteller, he responds to the audience while he's telling a story, so it feels like it's just for you, even when you've heard the story several times on-line.
He was really engaging to listen too, and during the question period it seemed more like a discussion than a Q&A session. It made me want to hang out and discuss things with the guy. He was asked or mentioned most of the stuff that's already been covered, but one thing he talked about that I found particularly interesting was Romanticism. He said that he is a romantic, in the classical sense. He said the trouble with being a romantic is that from a very early age you keep having your face smashed into the harshness of reality. That things aren't always fair, bad things happen to good people, etc. He said it's a realists world, so romantics are burned quite often. This theme of romantic idealism conflicting with harsh reality is something he finds very dramatic and compelling, and he weaves it into his work. Specifically he mentioned that the Knight exemplifies this, as the chivalric code is one of the most idealistic out there, protection of the weak, paragon of all that is good, fighting for truth and justice. The reality was that they were people, and therefore could do horrible cruel things, rape, pillage, wanton killing, made all the more striking or horrifying because it was in complete opposition to what they were "supposed" to be. Really interesting stuff.