mabfan (Michael A. Burstein) (mabfan) wrote,
mabfan (Michael A. Burstein)

The Puzzling World of Eric Berlin

Two Sundays ago, Nomi and I went to hear a presentation by writer Eric Berlin, author of the new book "The Puzzling World of Winston Breen."

The Cover of the Book The Cover of the Book The Puzzling World of Winston Breen
Photo copyright ©2007 by Michael A. Burstein

The book tells the story of Winston Breen, a twelve-year-old boy who is into puzzles and who finds himself solving a mysterious puzzle that leads to a hidden treasure. Berlin had been putting together a small tour to promote the book, and rather appropriately, Eureka Puzzles and Brookline Booksmith joined forces to bring him to Brookline on October 7.

Nomi and I had never met Eric before; we've gotten to know him through blogging, as a while back he "friended" me on LiveJournal and I in turn began reading his blog (which is syndicated on LiveJournal at ericberlinblog). But my main connection to him is through the National Puzzlers' League, which is probably the closest thing out there to a puzzling community. So the morning of his talk, Nomi and I joined a few other NPL folk for a brunch at the home of one of the krewe (as NPLers refer to themselves), and then we headed over to the Courtyard by Marriott near Eureka for the event.

We got there early and had a chance to meet Eric for the first time.

Eric Berlin Before Giving His Talk in Brookline, Massachusetts Eric Berlin Before Giving His Talk in Brookline, Massachusetts
Photo copyright ©2007 by Michael A. Burstein

Eric was very pleasant and friendly, and he carried with him the air of bemusement that often accompanies a first-time-published novelist. Some of that bemusement, however, came from his acknowledgment of the audience that came to hear him speak, which didn't quite fit the target demographic for the book.

A Puzzling Gathering A Puzzling Gathering
Photo copyright ©2007 by Michael A. Burstein

Many of Eric's NPL and other friends in the Boston area took this as an opportunity to see him, so the audience was mostly filled with people who were not even close to being twelve years old. Eric's usual talk for his book is filled with puzzles meant for kids, so he seemed a little at a loss as to how to connect with his audience. But the truth is that most people were interested in hearing whatever he had to say. His talk turned into a meta-talk, in which he talked about the sorts of puzzles he would normally have presented had the audience skewed younger.

Eric Berlin Presents a Puzzle Eric Berlin Presents a Puzzle
Photo copyright ©2007 by Michael A. Burstein

After the talk ended, we all headed over to Eureka for the signing of the books. Despite the audience demographic, Eric did sell a bunch of books, as many of us wanted copies for ourselves and as gifts for various nieces and nephews. (Nomi and I bought a copy for our nephew Aaron.)

Eric Berlin Signs Copies of His Book at Eureka Eric Berlin Signs Copies of His Book at Eureka
Photo copyright ©2007 by Michael A. Burstein

Nomi and I hung out for a while, talking with some of the krewe. A few we've met before, like toonhead_npl; others were new to us, like tmcay, who was instrumental in helping me complete one of the items on my life list: having a high school friend (LJ: 530nm330hz) who had a crossword puzzle published in the New York Times.

T McAy of the NPL T McAy of the NPL
Photo copyright ©2007 by Michael A. Burstein

(If you were also there, and I don't know your LJ-handle, let me know and I'll add you to the following list of other people who were there: 530nm330hz, tmcay, toonhead_npl.)

After the signing, Nomi and I took toonhead_npl over to see our local New England Comics so we could get him a flyer for the Boston Comic Con taking place on October 21. Then we rejoined Eric and the other NPLers for ice cream at JP Licks. In the end, it was a most enjoyable day.

Nomi S. Burstein, Michael A. Burstein, Eric Berlin Nomi S. Burstein, Michael A. Burstein, Eric Berlin
Photo copyright ©2007 by Andrew M. Greene

Tags: books, boston, brookline, personal

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