If you've not yet spent an afternoon at the Twin Cities Book Festival, here's what you can expect: writers everywhere.Readers everywhere. Workshops and sessions on all aspects of the craft. Tables full of books, and journals, and zines; publishers and publicists; games for children; a smattering of music; the occasional gigantic spider. (No worries--last year's Bug Booth was well supervised.)
This year's festival is the 12th annual, still sponsored by Rain Taxi Review of Books, still bringing in big names, but different this year in that it's moving from downtown Minneapolis to the State Fairgrounds.
Here's the lineup of authors, and their newest books:
Kate Bornstein, author of "A Queer and Pleasant Danger."
Mark Z. Danielewski, "The fifty Year Sword."
Susan Isaacs, "Goldberg Variations."
Sharon Olds, "Stag's Leap."
Candace Savage, "A Geography of Blood."
Gerald Stern, "Stealing History" and "In Beauty Bright."
Jeff and Ann VanderMeer, "The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories."
Chris Ware, "Building Stories."
Panelists for the many sessions include Amanda Hocking, John Medeiros, Jocelyn Hale, Lorna Landvik, Bree Despain, Anne Greenwood Brown, and many others.
For kids, there's Chris Monroe, Molly Beth Griffin, Kevin Kling, Nancy Carlson ... and more.
It's all free. Saturday, Oct. 13, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Historic Progress Center at the fairgrounds, 1265 Snelling Av., St. Paul.
BY KATHRYN KYSAR
For one glorious week, I had the privilege of serving as writer-in-residence at the Madeline Island Center for the Arts, an idyllic place to work and just four hours and one magical ferry ride away from the Twin Cities.
It's excellent to see Calvin Trillin's name among the list of this fall's Talk of the Stacks guests. He had been set to come last season, but health problems forced him to postpone. Now, he is scheduled to be in Minneapolis on Dec. 6 to talk about his new book, "Dogfight: An Occasionally Interrupted Narrative Poem About the Presidential Campaign," and to launch the paperback edition of "Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of His Funny Stuff."
Here's a link to the interview we did with him last September.
The other Talk of the Stacks authors coming this fall are just as venerable:
On Sept. 21, Michael Chabon, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, will discuss his latest novel, "Telegraph Avenue." Chabon is the author of "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" and Wonder Boys," among other books.
On Oct. 4, Naomi Wolf will talk about her new book, "Vagina: A New Biography." Wolf is a social critic, political activist and author, perhaps best known for her best-selling book, "The Beauty Myth."
And on Nov. 17, Geoff Dyer will be in conversation with Graywolf Press publisher Fiona McCrae, discussing "Otherwise Known as the Human Condition." Here is a link to our review of the book, which came out last year and which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism.
And just for fun, here's a link to a review of Dyer's more recent book, "Zona," a meditation (with digressions) on the 1979 film "Stalker."
All Talk of the Stack events are free and open to the public and held at the Minneapolis Central Public Library on the Nicollet Mall. Doors open at 6:15 p.m.; events begin at 7 p.m. and are followed by book-signings.
The Good Thunder Reading Series, held annually at Minnesota State University at Mankato, includes readings and signings, residencies, discussion of craft, and radio interviews. Though they are happy to accept subscriptions, the events are free and open to everyone.
This year's lineup has been announced, and, as always, it's an impressive mix of national names and strong regional writers. The series begins in September and runs through next April.
Graphic artist and writer Alison Bechdel
Fiction writer Nick Healy, fiction writer and memoirist Nicole Helget and fiction writer Nate LeBoutillier
Angela Mullen and Edwidge Danticat
Novelist Tayari Jones
Fiction writer Brett Biebel and poet and translator Robert Hedin
BY BARRIE JEAN BORICH
I’m never ready for the end of AWP. Is there a loudspeaker announcement? A closing bell? A group whoop and ritual extinguishing of the flame? If so, I’ve never heard it. I always want ceremonious closure, like the end of the Catholic mass of my childhood—some holy admonishment to go forth to love and serve the word. But no.
Instead the end is marked by books and flurry. The book fair resounds with the rip of packing tape as exhibitors tear down their tables and booths. The exhibition is busier than ever, as it’s always open to the public on Saturday, but now exhibitors are giving books and journals away, just as the conferees, loaded down with more than they can carry home on planes, turn down the gifts with equal glee.
I start to see journals left spread across abandoned tables. When I meet with my VIDA editorial committee to discuss some coming changes to our Web journal we find ourselves sweeping aside a pile of beautiful abandoned literary magazines just to make room at the table, commenting on that late AWP denial logic allowing us to believe that if we leave our beloved creations here, where surely someone will claim them, then we aren’t actually throwing them away.
Still, despite all this jettisoning and departing, the last panel I attend is packed, the Q + A turning into a minor brawl. The panelists, responding to a current brouhaha in the creative nonfiction world, have led us all into the tender zone where we disagree on whether nonfiction writers are allowed to make things up.
One young woman stands up to speak out with a wavering voice, referencing a famous writer by his first name; the essayist sitting next to me and I surmise she is one of the famous writer’s students.
Another speaks, then another, and response applause becomes competitive, though the panelists are conciliatory, and most of us present know we will not live or die at the hands of this debate– because where but AWP would anyone take trouble to argue about the lyric essay?
As the final panels disperse the lobby bar is again runneth over. The noise is what I notice in these final hours, in the book fair and now in the hotel lobbies and corridors, the undulating roar of the collective human voice, rising and falling waves of indistinct sound. Words no longer carry discernable meaning. Words are merely a force of nature, a wind tunnel of indistinct syllables, stoppering our ears, disheveling our hair. No wonder we all leave AWP feeling as if we’ve survived a tsunami.
My own last conference activity is dinner with the same poet I’ve had dinner with for years now, every Saturday night of every AWP. Brian Teare and I take a cab to an undisclosed non-conference location. We lean into each other, this year over gluten-free pizza, and we break down our careers, our marriages, our friendships, our strategies for keeping the work alive, everyone we know in the literary world.
We see each other just once a year, in the city of the AWP, a mystical metropolis that reappears and dissolves again, this year Chicago, next year Boston. We are both the sorts incapable of casual friendship, with each other or with anyone, and so aren’t afraid to love one another, though we’ve never lived in the same city.
We’ve taken long after-dinner walks in Denver, in Washington DC, in Chicago, down streets on the cusp of settling back to themselves as the conference packs for the coming evacuation. Brian and I finish our conference with a long walk down Michigan Avenue, arm-in-arm, the skyscrapers rising before us, looming sentries of the lives we make within vocation.
Go forth now, is what we’ve been saying to each other for the past five hours. Go forth now to praise and love the word.
Barrie Jean Borich is an assistant professor at Hamline University, an editor at Water-Stone Review, and a board member of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.
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