Last Thursday, 11-11-10, I went to a hear a talk by Zadie Smith at Rice. She wrote my favorite novel, "White Teeth." She wrote the book while she was still an undergrad at Cambridge. It's funny, poignant, etc. etc.
I felt kind of sorry for her at the talk. She had to read from her notes the whole time. After the talk, she took off her mic and said "talk among yourselves." She said she would be available for individual questions. This led me to think that she really doesn't like public speaking. Her talk was interesting and funny. However, she never made any remarks off the cuff so it felt a bit impersonal.
It was a good experience and one that I would have missed if I wasn't working at Rice University. A friend of mine on campus just got laid off. I sure hope that I miss the next round of layoffs.