I just got back from another World Voices event, a discussion with Mark Z. Danielewski, author of House of Leaves and Only Revolutions (which has a very interesting website). The discussion was interesting, and Danielewski, in addition to being very intelligent, was exceedingly nice at the book signing afterward, drawing in my book and making time to chit-chat. That gives him major bonus points as far as writers go in my mind.
A lot of the discussion was focused on his life, which was interesting, especially because he tends to be a bit private about that sort of thing, and he told a pretty fantastic story about Susan Sontag as well. One especially interesting bit that came out was Rick Moody's mention of how deconstructivism might have affected his writing of this book, since he was doing his undergrad work right as it was beginning to really catch on. It made me remember just how much I liked Derrida, and made me want to read even more. I also liked that Danielewski, even while discussing some loftier ideas, managed to kind of cut out the bullshit a bit, asking one of the audience members to ask the real question he was getting at, and in general being very clear about his influences, both directly and indirectly.
As for the books, if you haven't already, go read House of Leaves, which is absolutely fantastic and absolutely terrifying. Briefly, it's the story of man who inherits a manuscript written about a lost film about a house that expands into an enormous labyrinth. Only Revolutions is less easy to follow, and I should admit that I haven't actually finished it, but it's a really interesting take on the road novel that puts the reader in the center of the reading, told through the perspective of two eternally youthful lovers. Danielewski never for a moment forgets that the story is the most important part of a story, and this is augmented by his typesetting, which might otherwise be seen as gimmicky. Both are great reads, and it's definitely worth taking a look at either.