How many times have you gone to an author's reading at a book store and heard someone ask a question that made you want to crawl under your chair? Groan? Cover your ears? Flee the store? Cry? Move to another neighborhood?
There's one in every crowd -- that one person who's got to raise his hand and ask Alice Munro if she's related to Marilyn. Personally, I think these questions -- and the responses -- are often the most revealing part of a Q and A because they reveal more about authors' personalities, their capacity for empathy, and their ability to think on their feet, than any of the usual questions.
I'm putting together a partial list of the daffiest Q and A questions of all time --- and no, I won't spare myself on this list because I've asked a few staggeringly dumb questions to authors over the years, including a question to Janet Malcolm that was so confounding, even to me, that she couldn't answer at all. She just stared at me. And after a while, I think she said: "Next question?''
So far I've got a list of teeth-grinding questions that people have asked to Toni Morrison, Joan Didion and others.
If you have any examples of your own, send in.
If not, stay tuned.