On Tuesday, author Elizabeth McKenzie will read from her second novel, “The Portable Veblen,” at Literati as part of their “Fiction at Literati” series.
“The Portable Veblen” is about a young couple, Veblen and Paul, and their rocky engagement. It’s about love, about the two learning to deal with each other’s families and, somehow, about Veblen’s friendship with a squirrel. The New York Times calls it “a screwball comedy with a dash of mental illness; a conventional tale of family pathos; a sendup of Big Pharma; a meditation on consumption, marriage, the nature of work.”
Despite a squirrel being one of the characters in her novel, McKenzie said she has never been to Ann Arbor before. Her story is set in her home state of California.
In an interview with the Michigan Daily, McKenzie said she wanted to be a writer her whole life, from childhood to her time as an undergraduate at University of California — Santa Cruz to her graduate studies at Stanford.
“That’s all I ever really wanted to do,” she said. “I didn’t know if it would become a job or not.”
She said she loves to teach writing workshops and prove to people that they’re capable of writing fiction and that they are more creative than they thought themselves to be. She also offered some advice to aspiring authors.
“Be prepared to feel like a student all your life,” McKenzie said. “There’s always more you can know and it isn’t necessarily something you’re going to learn quickly or master quickly. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I mean that in a really positive way. It’s like you build your life around the pursuit, not necessarily around achieving one goal.”
In addition to reading from “The Portable Veblen,” McKenzie will spend time talking to fans at her event on Tuesday. She said her favorite part of readings is getting to talk to people about writing, literature and her books.
“People have contacted me from the places I’m going saying they’re excited about the book and that feels good,” she said. “It’s nice to go somewhere people have read the book and like it.”