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Diane Ackerman’s Appearance for One Book, One San Diego at the Jewish Community Center

Diane Ackerman reading at the San Diego Jewish Community Center.

Above: Diane Ackerman reading at the San Diego Jewish Community Center.

Last night's One Book, One San Diego event with author Diane Ackerman proved to be a wildly popular ticket -- the security guard urgently waved people away from the JCC's full parking lot as early as 6:30. The auditorium was packed, many people clutching their well thumbed copies of "The Zookeeper's Wife." Treated first to a dramatic reading by Mo'olelo Performing Arts Company, the audience was then introduced to a physically diminutive and very glamorous Ackerman. As though channeling the namesake of her book, Ackerman was dressed to the nines in a glamorous leopard spotted pantsuit and a gorgeous mane of dark curly hair. An elegant and compelling speaker, Ackerman was as good a storyteller in person as she is on the page. One of my favorite examples of her insatiable curiosity was the story she told of her hunt for a box of preserved beetles, leading her to a metal trailer outside of Warsaw functioning as an ersatz Wunderkammer for Poland's Natural History Museum. Ackerman also related the story of the Warsaw zoo being bombed by the Nazis-- the animals who survived were loping along the streets of Warsaw, lions, giraffes, rhinos running abreast on the cobblestone streets, momentarily laying aside their predatory drives in what she called a kind of "Biblical hallucination." A really wonderful evening for San Diego.

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