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Christian

National Book Festival

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I just realized that this year's festival takes place the day of my oldest daughter's first big birthday party, Sept. 26. I could do the festival first thing in the morning, but would be rushing to get back in time for the early-afternoon party. So I think I'll skip this year's event. The ad in the newspaper didn't list any authors I was dying to see, although I haven't looked over the complete list at the festival's Web site. Don't want to. I'm afraid of what I might discover.

Anyone else going this year?

EDIT: Kate DiCamillo! George Pelecanos! (although I've seen him a few times before) Junot Diaz!

Oh, geez ... just bought Douglas Brinkley's Roosevelt bio for my brother and am listening to Edmund Morris' Theodore Rex, so it would be cool to hear Brinkley speak on Roosevelt. And who's that in the Poetry & Prose tent? Why, it's Tim O'Brien, who I saw at the festival right after July, July was published. Does he have something new out? And someone named ... gonna cry ... Marilynne Robinson. I've heard her lecture but never had her sign my copy of Gilead.

I knew I shouldn't have looked at that list! I may have to take the kids and get our copy of The Tale of Desperaux signed.

Edited by Christian

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Looks like I will be going, with four young kids in tow. Planning to be there right at 10, and out after the Kate DiCamillo signing, if everything works out.

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The Examiner looks at tomorrow's festival. There's no news in the article, but here's a factoid:

Since its inception, when 25,000 attendees -- almost double the expected crowd -- arrived at the event's former site on Capitol Hill, the event has grown to about 120,000 participants and 78 authors.

I'm still wondering how I'm going to pull this off. But I'm going to try. If you're at the festival early and see a guy pushing two boys in a double stroller, and walking with two young girls, that's me. Say hi!

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It was another wonderful festival. Exhausting, but in a good way. The kids all had fun, and for the first time, I bought books on-site. I arrived early, before the 10 a.m. start time for the event, and found the book tent lightly populated. The girls gravitated toward a hardback of The Little Mermaid, lovingly illustrated, and I bit for Kate DiCamilo's new book, The Magician's Elephant, hoping to get her to sign it.

The signing lines were huge again this year, after last year's apparent falloff in signing-line length. I waited, with four young children, for nearly 90 minutes, just to have the author sign her new hardback book, and our paperback copy of The Tale of Desperaux. I still can't believe we pulled it off. I think it was worth it.

EDIT: C-SPAN televises the event. I've just checked the C-SPAN site, where I discovered the morning session, which runs 3 hours and 42 minutes, and the afternoon session. The beginning of the morning session lists several authors that C-SPAN featured, althougth I'm not sure if those appearances are limited to the morning block. I've just pulled up the afternoon session, and don't hear any author lineup unique to that 4 hour and 16 minute segment, so it's possible the authors mentioned at the beginning of the morning session carry over into the afternoon session.

Oh, duh, here's the lineup.

Edited by Christian

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Christian, it sounds like your experience was somewhat similar to mine. I went with six month old twins--the outdoor aspect to this was perfect for them as I'd be too nervous that they might get loud in a quieter setting.

Many high points, but the one I will share is having Michael Connelly--a writer I have enjoyed since I was 18--walking past me unaccompanied right as I was in what I considered to be an out-of-the-way-spot where I could change my son's diaper.

I said hello, but did not shake his hand.

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Coming Sept. 25!

No authors that I want to have sign books other than Peter Straub, who edited my two-volume Library of America set of tales of horror and the supernatural. I plan to read those volumes, or a good chunk of them, during my upcoming vacation.

That assumes Straub is there early in the day. I plan to arrive early again this year and park nearby, rather than take all the kids on the Metro. Last year's experience of doing the same thing was preferable to all the other years of building my trips around afternoon author appearances. I discovered that the tradeoff of convenience over signed copies of books is well worth making.

Edited by Christian

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The author line-up is spectacularly underwhelming, at least for my tastes. If I was interested in cozy mystery or time-travel romance, the line-up might be spectacular. Anyway, that weekend actually looks kind of good, so I'm toying with going. (There are a few authors I'm mildly interested in, too.)

Christian, what other attractions are there besides the authors and some of their books for sale?

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The author line-up is spectacularly underwhelming, at least for my tastes. If I was interested in cozy mystery or time-travel romance, the line-up might be spectacular. Anyway, that weekend actually looks kind of good, so I'm toying with going. (There are a few authors I'm mildly interested in, too.)

Christian, what other attractions are there besides the authors and some of their books for sale?

It's a fun event for kids. Lots of people in large costumes that resemble characters from various cartoon series. You can stand in line and have your picture taken with the characters. My kids enjoy that.

There are various tents with different activities in which adults and kids can partake. But if you don't have kids, the author talks are the big draw. You listen to them speak about their work, and soak up the book-culture vibe among fellow book lovers.

The Web site explains more about the event.

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The Web site explains more about the event.

Thanks, Christian! I checked the website before I posted, and I got the feeling that if you didn't have kids and weren't going for the authors, the ~5 hour drive might not be worth it.

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The Web site explains more about the event.

Thanks, Christian! I checked the website before I posted, and I got the feeling that if you didn't have kids and weren't going for the authors, the ~5 hour drive might not be worth it.

As much as I love the event, I wouldn't drive five hours for it. Others have pointed out the C-SPAN's Book TV airs several of the author sessions, so you can participate virtually.

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The event is a week from tomorrow.

The fest's website has been flaky leading up to the event, but if you can get on, there's some nifty podcasts, videos, and other material on there. A way to pass some time, if you have a few minutes to kill.

I have kid duty again, so I'll be taking all four kids down early, weather permitting, and trying to hang on through lunch and until I can get Peter Straub to sign my two American Fantastic Tales collections, which he edited.

Edited by Christian

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I describe my encounter with Straub here.

It was an exhausting day with all the kids, and more of a struggle to find unrestricted parking this year. But the kids rebounded ahead of the book signing and stuck it out in the hot sun, despite my having forgotten to bring hats and sunblock. We were all a bit pink by the time we left.

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So if I don't go next Saturday (Sunday is out for us), what will I be missing? Or, who will I be missing?

No one on the author list is calling to me. I might get Dave Eggers to sign my copy of Zeitoun, but that's it. I've seen him talk before about What Is the What?, but don't feel like I have to see the guy speak again. I met Edmund Morris several years ago at the fest, so "been there, done that," although it might be cool to hear him talk about his Roosevelt trilogy, now I've read all three books.

If I go, though, I'll have kids in tow, and that won't be conducive to sitting and listening to author presentations. The authors at the Children's pavilion aren't my kids' favorites, so ... maybe I'll just stay home? Hate to write that.

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So if I don't go next Saturday (Sunday is out for us), what will I be missing? Or, who will I be missing?

I was considering going just for Neal Stephenson, but as usual, it's going to be too much to make it down to D.C. this year.

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So if I don't go next Saturday (Sunday is out for us), what will I be missing? Or, who will I be missing?

I was considering going just for Neal Stephenson, but as usual, it's going to be too much to make it down to D.C. this year.

I've never read anything by Stephenson, but know he has a devoted following.

It's looking like I'll head down in the afternoon for the Eggers signing, followed by, if I can linger (depends on our kids' schedules, still up in the air), Morris' talk on the Roosevelt biographies, and then by Eggers' talk.

The prospect of attending the festival for a few hours without my kids -- this would be the first time since our first daughter was a newborn! (she just turned 9) -- is enticing. This was hard to imagine just a week ago; now it looks like it might happen, if only for an hour or two.

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Heading out to the library with the family, and then on to the book festival on my own. I think this is a first. I can actually sit and listen to author talks! I plan to do just that.

Oh, and the weather, which was miserably wet yesterday and which was earlier in the wee forecast to be more of the same today, cleared up overnight. The sun is out! Book festival, here I come!

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The good news is that most of the authors I'm interested in seeing are appearing on Saturday, not Sunday, of the extended two-day festival this year. The not as good news is that I've seen Marilynne Robinson speak before -- but seeing her again can't really be described as a negative, can it? At the least, this is motivation to read her latest essay collection.

It might be fun to listen to Stephen Carter, too. I'm about 70% of the way through The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln.

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The good news is that most of the authors I'm interested in seeing are appearing on Saturday, not Sunday, of the extended two-day festival this year. The not as good news is that I've seen Marilynne Robinson speak before -- but seeing her again can't really be described as a negative, can it? At the least, this is motivation to read her latest essay collection.

It might be fun to listen to Stephen Carter, too. I'm about 70% of the way through The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln.

For once, I managed to look the list up before you mentioned it here, Christian! (By only a few hours, though.)

There are a lot of authors there who interest me, but I don't know if there's anyone who really jumps out at me. (Well, Colson Whitehead does, I guess...I own but haven't yet read Zone One, but his Fresh Air interview was easily one of my favorite of the past few years. He's incredibly entertaining.)

SOME day I'll make it down to DC for this.

Edited by Jason Panella

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A while ago, after making my plans for the festival, I was assigned a film that screens Saturday morning. Now I can't get downtown before mid to late afternoon. I think I'm still going to go, but I'm not as certain to attend as I was before the screening was announced.

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Here's the 2013 author lineup.The "Contemporary Life" writers hold the most interest for me, but I don't see anyone on the overall author list that I'm dying to see or hear speak.

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