Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Christian

National Book Festival

Recommended Posts

The second annual National Book Festival will be held on the Mall in Washington, DC, on Oct. 4. I went last year, with my wife and our then 3-week-old daughter in tow, and it was a blast. We brought along books for the author signings. Sarah brought her Mary Higgins Clark book, "Daddy's Little Girl," and I brought the latest Tim O'Brien novel, "July, July," and my copy of Edmund Morris' "Dutch," all of which are now signed and sitting on our book shleves at home.

For a full list of authors appearing this year, and for further details on the festival, go here:

http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/programs/autho...hors/index.html

I don't own copies of books by any of the authors attending this year's festival, but I'm intrigued by Dana Gioia, whom I've heard several times on the "Mars Hill" audio journals, and I loved Stephen Carter's "The Emperor of Ocean Park," which I checked out from the library. Also, I listened to the audio verion of Robert Caro's "Master of the Senate," and it's superb, deserving of all the recognition it's received. Sarah likes Carolyn Hart, so we may do the festival again this year.

Since I probably won't be in line to have anything signed, I'd like to take advantage of the pavilion-specific events, but those haven't been announced yet. Last year several of the authors talked about their latest books and about the craft of writing.

This link will provide an updated itinerary by mid-September:

http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/programs/pavil...ions/index.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a reminder that the National Book Festival is this weekend. The Hamakers are still trying to figure out what time they'll be attending. The weather is supposed to be beautiful.

From the looks of things, there isn't too much interest in the Festival, but if anyone on the board is planning to attend, maybe we can touch base down on the Mall.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BINGO! Just did some Googling and discovered that Andrew Hudgins, appearing in the Poetry Pavilion, grew up immersed in the Bible. He

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll be there. I especially want to meet Neil Gaiman, seeing that the film with the script he penned, Mirrormask, is opening in one of the Landmarks soon. I've never read any of his books, but I'm going to tonight on the train. I'll let you know what I think.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

GreetingsE: Did you make it?

I wandered down to the main book-signing lines toward the end of my time, on the off chance Tom Wolfe's line might be short, and I could get him to sign a copy of a Richard Thompson Book Festival-related cartoon published in Saturday's "Style" section of The Washington Post (Thompson takes a jab at Wolfe in the strip, all in good fun).

I was floored by the length not only of Wolfe's line, but of seemingly all the author-signing lines! I'd had a couple of books signed at the 2002 Book Festival, after short waits. My wife had stood for an eternity to get Mary Higgins Clark to sign a copy of "Daddy's Little Girl," but Clark's line was the standout, the exception to the rule of manageable, shorter author-signing lines that year.

I guess the secret is out, because this year, each of the 16 lines appeared to be at least as long as the Mary Higgins Clark line was three years ago.

I knew I'd never make it through the Wolfe line before his time was up, so I didn't bother.

I left well before Gaiman's scheduled signing. Did you get to meet the man?

Edited by Christian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did make it, and I did meet Gaiman, in a certain sense - I took turns with a friend waiting for three hours in line (Gaiman, very graciously, agreed to sign until 5:00, and we got our book signed at 4:55), for a smile, three words ("Hi" + "You're Welcome"), and a signature. My friend also waited in line for Wolfe, but apparently he had laryngitis, and so he didn't stay long. His line WAS really long too, one of the longest.

I spent the time in line productively, reading the book we had brought. It's the spinoff of the Sandman series, Dream Hunters, which is a short novel with illustrations by Yoshitaka Amano. I thought it was very beautifully written, and if the script of Mirrormask is anything like it, I'm officially hyped.

Edited by GreetingsEarthling

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Did they have a John Irving/Tom Wolfe arm wrestling contest?

Didn't see one, but The Weekly Standard's David Skinner says he was unimpressed with both men. From the latest issue (subscriber-only access, so no link):

John Irving, in jeans and a green T-shirt, answered questions from Washington Post Book World editor Marie Arana, who led the "conversation" with far more wide-eyed wonder than really seems appropriate off the set of Sesame Street. Many of the working details about Irving's writing were of no more than passing interest, though one is amused by the vanity and numb-headedness of certain statements.

"I can't imagine as a novelist or a screenwriter beginning with a political agenda," says Irving, whose one screenplay was for The Cider House Rules (based on his own novel). This movie was so pro-abortion that Planned Parenthood set up special screenings of it to remind people how terrible life (oops) was in the days before abortion was legal.

Another statement from Irving: "Until my first son was born, I had nothing to say." Irving's putative ideological opponent, Tom Wolfe, also spoke with concern about people becoming writers at too young an age to have experienced anything worthy of a book. (I don't know where Jonathan Safran Foer was at this exact moment.) Wolfe has been working this routine for over 25 years, though his case for reporting and research as the great antidote to the provincialism of the American novel certainly took a knock with his last book, I Am Charlotte Simmons. One need only read Wolfe's adrenalized description of the bland interior of a chain-food restaurant to realize that there are some things too commonplace to report.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is anyone planning to go to this year's festival, on Sept. 30?

My wife and I are part of a wedding early that afternoon, way out past Dulles Airport, but I'm hoping to catch the first hour or two of the festival, which begins at 10 a.m.

David Smedberg: Are you attending again this year?

The list of authors who will appear is here, and I'm guessing, although I don't have cable, that C-SPAN will again air the festival as part of its "Book TV."

Edited by Christian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm also curious if I should make a point of hearing presentations/readings from any of these poets, who will be appearing in the Poetry Pavilion:

Cyrus Cassells

Judith Ortiz Cofer

Dick Davis

Dana Gioia

Donald Hall (Poet Laureate)

Daniel Hoffman

Mary Karr

Elise Paschen

Amy Uyematsu

Yevgeny Yevtushenko

David Yezzi

--Gioia and Hall are the only two names I'm familiar with here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is anyone planning to go to this year's festival, on Sept. 30?

My wife and I are part of a wedding early that afternoon, way out past Dulles Airport, but I'm hoping to catch the first hour or two of the festival, which begins at 10 a.m.

David Smedberg: Are you attending again this year?

The list of authors who will appear is here, and I'm guessing, although I don't have cable, that C-SPAN will again air the festival as part of its "Book TV."

Thanks for the reminder. I think I will be there, perhaps even with friends. I'll probably not spend too much time, though - maybe an hour or two to browse around. Of all the authors/speakers on the list, the only name that caught my eye was Louis Sachar, so maybe I'll come in the late morning (11 or 11:30) and then stick around until his talk at 12:40. If you're still around at that point, I'd love to get the chance to meet you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's doubtful, David. I'll probably be on my way back to my car by then (I plan to drive, so I can get back home quickly). But do share your experiences here after the event.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I spend a year anticipating this event, but this year, I can't find anything to get too excited about. I'll still go, and take my daughters, like I did last year, which was a brief but memorable trip. Still, I wish I had more interest in the authors and planned events.

If you were/are going, who would you make a point of meeting, or listening to?

List of appearing authors

Pavilion schedule for author talks

Book signing schedule

Edited by Christian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Michael Dirda feels my pain -- and shares it. Sheesh, what a mess this year's festival was, although once I finally arrived, I enjoyed it and wish I could've stayed longer.

Here's the Q&A transcript:

Book Festival Blues, VA: The good folks in the District of Columbia closed down 7th-15th Streets along Constitution Ave. Saturday morning. I made the mistake of driving my two young kids to the National Book Festival, and spent about 45 minutes crawling over the Roosevelt Bridge. After finally reaching 17th St. on Constitution, all traffic was diverted onto 17th, at which point the 3 lanes on 17th immediately went down to two, then down to ONE LANE within two blocks of Constitution! Recall that this was the ONLY route for inbound Book Festival Guests using Rt. 66, because the E St. and Independence Ave. exits off the bridge were CLOSED.

I wondered what the mayor would have to say about this. The Post wrote a story informing me that Mr. Mayor was a PARTICIPANT in the triathalon that led to the closure of the main thoroughfare to the book festival! Unbelievable.

We did spend an hour at the festival and enjoyed it, but to call the planning incompetent doesn't do full justice to the level of dunderheadedness on the part of D.C. officials.

The Book Festival is Laura Bush's event, so I guess we can just blame Bush, too, right? Everyone else is doin' it...

Michael Dirda: A good complaint, and I hope that it's picked up by someone in city government. I myself ran into similar trouble: I was to introduce Terry Pratchett at noon. Well, I got on the Red Line in Silver Spring and it took me an hour and forty minutes to get to the Mall. I made it to the fiction and fantasy tent with three minutes to spare--and that was by racing through the subway and up the stairs and through the crowd. The Metro system, in its wisdeom, single-tracked on the Red Line between Takoma and New YOrk Avenue, then went slowly even then, it being the weekend. There were a lot of nermous, then irate readers on my train, fearing they would miss half the festival. The Pratchett crowd was much in evidence, and all of them must have been only able to stand on the distant outskirts of the event, given the amount of time we spent en route.

Ah, Washington! I would never have lived in this city, if it hadn't been for one fact: Thirty years ago, my wife had a good job here, so I stayed on. It's worked out reasonably well for us both, but I've never really liked it here. I'd rather live in Chicago, New York, New Orleans, San Francisco, or--let us dream--Paris or London.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's always the Texas Book Festival. You know it has to better or at least bigger ;) !

I'd like to hear Michael Connelly. He's one of my favorite crime writers. Just the fact that the cop is named Hieronymus Bosch is enough for me to like him. I'd also like to hear Rick Riordan who is writing the Percy Jackson series for kids all about modern day kids who have one Greek god for a parent. They are rollickin' fun.

The kick off event is sponsored by the UT Ransom Center which is where I work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As always, thanks for the reminder, Christian. This event is always a lot of fun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jason: It looks like I'll be going in the afternoon this year, taking my two daughters (who will miss their naps/rest time; yikes!). I'm going to try to catch Price's presentation, but may have to play it by ear depending on whether my kids are ready to settle down for 20-30 minutes and let me listen to an author talk, rather than escort them from one kids' event to another.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not going to be able to make it, Christian; there was a conflict for Friday night (when I would travel down), so it just won't work out. Dang. Let me know how the Richard Price event goes! (On a plus side, I'm going on a date Saturday! :D )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm not going to be able to make it, Christian; there was a conflict for Friday night (when I would travel down), so it just won't work out. Dang. Let me know how the Richard Price event goes! (On a plus side, I'm going on a date Saturday! :D )

That's much more exciting!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got to the festival right after Price had finished speaking, so I took the girls to the various kid-related tents, all of which were packed. It was a rainy day, the grounds were muddy, but we were prepared for the mud. We weren't prepared for rain, and we got a pretty thorough soaking while waiting to have our picture taken with Curious George, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and some dude named Super "Why?" We went through the Magic School Bus, where we met someone dressed as Ms. Frizzle, and the girls were awarded with copies of another Magic School Bus book.

After doing all that, I decided to walk down to the book signing table and see how long the line was for Richard Price. I didn't have a book for him to sign, but I was convincing myself that, if the line wasn't too long, I'd buy a copy of "Lush Life" and have him sign it. I was wet, the kids were happy, and I'd earned it. We got to the table at 4:10, ten minutes after the one-hour signing event had begun.

The lines weren't very long for any of the authors -- probably due to the rain. But Price's line was empty, as was the table where he was to sign! When I asked a volunteer where Price was, she said he'd arrived at the table but had not a single person there to have a book signed! So he left.

I was embarrassed for Price, and for readers in the D.C. area. Here's one of the most acclaimed writers of our time, and he has zero people in line to have a book signed! If only I'd been there ten minutes earlier.

Here's Price, as quoted in today's Washington Post piece on the fest:

Then there was Richard Price, who read from his novel "Lush Life" and talked about the trouble with autobiographical fiction. "I feel like cannibalizing your own life is good for one or two books and then it gets deadly dull," Price said. "The world is so large and there are so many voiceless people out there." Then he offered his take on a somewhat tired question from the audience:

"What's the process of writing? All right, well, the thing is, you get up at the crack of noon. You have a good hearty breakfast, take a little nap to digest that good hearty breakfast. You get up, take a good cup of coffee, real strong. You wait for your hands to stop shaking. You pick out a pencil, you put it in that electric pencil sharpener and break the point. Then you realize it's probably not the pencil, it's the pencil sharpener, so you go down to Staples . . ."

As the laughter died down, Price said, "I wish I was lying."

Where does he get his ideas? "I gotta mix it up with life," he said. "I'd so much rather go off and interact with something and see what it does to me" than sit in a chair all day writing about "a guy who, nananadada, and then he goes and gets divorced, nanana, and then he finds out he's gay, and then he finds out he's not gay, he's lesbian.

"I mean, you know that story. So show me something new."

Agreed! And this guy had no one in his signing line. No one!

Edited by Christian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a bummer, man. Price is such a good writer, and I've always enjoyed reading his thoughts outside of his novels. I would've been first in line.

(Which, honestly, I sorta wish I was at the festival in light of how my other plans turned out. :( )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...