Friday, October 13, 2017

How to Work a Book Festival 101

No one who knows me is surprised to see how worked up I get when a book festival comes to town. One bonus of living in Nashville, then, is the 29th Annual Southern Festival of Books, which kicked off today in downtown Nashville with sessions in the lovely Nashville Public Library and all kinds of vendors with books and book-related merchandise on the plaza, along with tents set up for book signings and for musical artists.

I plot my way through a book event in a method similar to my old junior high reading habits, when I would find one another and then read everything I could find that he or she wrote. I might not be able to judge a book by its cover, but by its author, more likely.

So when I arrived today, I went to hear Jennifer Egan reading from her new book Manhattan Beach because I had loved her book A Visit with the Goon Squad, and I heard Beth Ann Fennelly discussing and reading from Heating and Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs because I liked Tilted World, the novel she wrote with her husband novelist Tom Franklin.

Denise Kiernan discussed The Last Castle, the story behind Asheville's Biltmore House; she had been our visit writer at Caldwell Community College's Writers Symposium discussing The Girls of Atomic City, so I knew I'd enjoy hearing her again. I wanted to hear Rodney Jones, whom I had seen first at University of North Alabama back when I was working on my master's.

Tomorrow, my plan is similar: I want to hear Wiley Cash talk about his new book because I liked A Land More Kind Than Home and The Dark Road to Mercy--and because I had liked him when I'd heard him read or talk before.  Likewise, I want to hear Gabrielle Zevin talking about Young Jane Young because I loved The Storied Life of AJ Fikry, but I may have to miss her to hear one of my all-time favorite writers, North Carolina's Ron Rash. Of course, I also want to hear Radney Foster and Peter Cooper, even though I've been lucky enough to hear them both discuss their newest books here in Nashville. I see Robert Olmsted is on a panel discussing Western Novels, and his Coal Black Horse was one of my favorites when I read it. Nicole Krauss' The History of Love was moving and haunting, so I am eager to find about her newest book.

I can't wait until Sunday, when Clyde Egerton will be celebrating "Twenty-Five Years of Raney and Floatplane Notebooks. I have a shelf full of his books, well-read, often shared.

Along the way, I'll run into my reading friends--people I know from teaching together or from book club or church, kindred spirits, and they'll tell me about a great session they've seen--that I missed.

1 comment:

Michael Tony said...

I do starve to participate in book festivals.

Heating and Cooling Hamilton