Friday, November 2, 2007

Texas Book Festival, Capitol grounds, Austin

Events officially begin today, but this year I'm focusing more on the talks and treating this like a professional development weekend. This is my schedule for Saturday (all descriptions are from the festival web site):

10:00 - 11:00 Vintage/Anchor Books Presents: Writers on Reading [totebags and free books!]

Writers on Reading is a special event presented by Vintage/Anchor Books featuring Jane Hamilton and Valerie Martin. The event is not like a regular reading; it's an intimate seminar for readers interested in reading groups. Hamilton and Martin will talk about reading and writing, or more specifically what they personally read, how they decide what to read and how they write. Vintage/Anchor Books will be handing out special tote bags with complimentary new Vintage/Anchor paperbacks at the event. The session's moderator, Russell Perreault, is the director of publicity for Vintage and Anchor Books.

11:15 - 12:15 A Tribute to Molly Ivins

We pay tribute here to Molly Ivins, who died earlier this year and was one of the nation's most iconic political commentators and humorists. At this session, we'll hear from Lou Dubose, Ivins' frequent co-author (their new book is titled Bill of Wrongs: The Executive Branch's Assault on America's Fundamental Rights); humorist Roy Blount, Jr.; and noted documentary filmmaker Paul Stekler will screen never-before-seen footage of Ivins that appears in Remembering Molly Ivins, a short film he recently made.

Ivins' friend Ellen Sweets will also speak about Ivins - Sweets recently retired as a food writer with the Denver Post, but met Ivins shortly after moving to Dallas to become a reporter for the Dallas Morning News. Their friendship was built around an interest in progressive politics; French, Mexican, Italian, Greek, African, and Southern food; dinner parties, movies, lots of laughter and, of course, some sadness.

1:30 - 2:15 Rick Riordan

Rick Riordan's latest entry in his myth-tinged bestselling series Percy Jackson and the Olympians has been called "a winner of Olympic proportions"; the adventures of Percy and his array of often clashing pals have to find Annabeth (the daughter of Athena) as well as Artemis, not to mention deal with the all-consuming prophecy of the Oracle. Riordan will be giving the world premiere reading from the yet-to-be-released fourth entry in the Percy Jackson series at this event!

3:00 - 4:00 Lit Crit: The State of Book Criticism

The amount of editorial space (and broadcast time) devoted to coverage of books and writers - and cultural reporting and criticism in general - always seems to be under threat. It's understood that breaking news trumps arts coverage, but with the layoff earlier this year of the respected book editor from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the publishing industry reacted with more fear than usual about the declining coverage of books in mainstream media. What kinds of books are getting reviewed now? How is the book industry adapting to that coverage? Are informed and well-written reviews only showing up on blogs and boutique literary journals? These panelists, all insiders in the literary scene, will talk about what's at stake in current literary criticism and whether the scene is all gloom-and-doom.

I'll be posting Sunday's schedule and a very short wrap-up tomorrow. More detailed notes about the talks will follow in future posts starting on Monday.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention that BookCrossing will have a presence there for the first time! Here's the announcement from CEO Scott Sorochak:

"BookCrossing and Ghirardelli Chocolate are teaming up at the Austin, Texas Book Festival, November 3rd and 4th at the State Capital Building to promote reading and literacy awareness. With over 50,000 attendees and 1,400 authors expected to attend this exciting 2 day event, this is a bibliophile’s dream!

Please join BookCrossing and Ghirardelli’s “Savor Every Page” campaign and realize the simple pleasure of curling up with a good book and great chocolate. Ghirardelli reminds us, “Whether you’re losing yourself in the latest Amy Tan, indulging in the newest Mitch Albom, or reaching for that dog-eared Jane Austen that’s never far from your nightstand, this is the joy of reading--a pleasure as deep as indigo ink, and as rich as the finest chocolates ever made. At Ghirardelli, we’ve been crafting fine chocolates for the past 150 years--Chocolates that cater to all literary tastes. So if you’re ready to escape for a few hours in that novel you’ve been dying to read, indulge with Ghirardelli chocolate. It’s the perfect complement to your favorite page-turner. “

Of course, we are encouraging all BookCrossers in Austin, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Houston and San Antonio to stop by the Ghirardelli tent this weekend at the Texas Book Festival for a complimentary chocolate sample and $1 off coupon for chocolate. Co-Founders Heather and Bruce Pedersen will be there to welcome you with free BookCrossing labels, bookmarks and other items. Drop by, say hello and help turn the Texas Book Festival into a BookCrossing zone!"

Well, I think that the pairing with Ghirardelli is fate tapping me on the shoulder... that is where my great-grandfather got his first job in America (nothing spectacular, I think he was a janitor or somesuch). Anyway, my family has a fondness for the place. If I'd prepared better, I would have gathered a stack of Texas-authored or -set books, or maybe some reading- or writing-themed books. I'll have to settle for what's in my regular Panera pile, and hope that my printer will behave itself/make the labels I need.

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