A Lit-Filled Fall
Already this season has seen the National Book Festival with such authors as Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen L. Carter, David Baldacci, Ken Burns, and Lisa Scottoline, as well as the Baltimore Book Festival with authors like Stephen Dixon and Stephen Hunter.
But last weekend took the cake.
Friday night, I enjoyed a cocktail reception in honor of the legendary author William J. Kennedy. About 30 or so other guests celebrated the most recent recipient of the coveted F. Scott Fitzgerald Award over drinks.
Saturday saw the 12th annual F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference in at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland. Rockville is the final resting place of Fitzgerald.
The conference featured intimate writing workshops and larger panel discussions and craft lectures alike.
Jay Parini, a prolific author known for his fiction, poetry, biographies, and essays, talked about Kennedy, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, Faulkner, and other writers who successfully use place in their work.
William Kennedy spoke about his fiction, what it takes to become a successful novelist, and what he thought about the movie adaptation of his award winning Ironweed.
Other authors featured at the conference included Susan Coll, Courttia Newland, Alix Ohlin, and Carly Sachs. I’m already looking forward to the next conference in 2008.
Then, on Sunday, I participated in the “Movable Feast,” a luncheon with about two dozen authors talking about their books. The event was part of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association Conference.
At the Movable Feast, I got to finally meet in person Sunshine O’Donnell, author of Open Me, a novel that has gotten a lot of good ink this year.
I caught up with Deborah Norvill who chatted with me about her new book, Thank You Power, which she’s been promoting between Inside Edition shoots.
I also got to meet Bathsheeba Monk, who has successfully published a collection of interlinked stories called Cokesville – not unlike my own TRACKS. And Felicia Sullivan, whose memoir The Sky Isn’t Visible From Here is due out later this year. And Robin Gerber, whose book Eleanor Vs Ike may make for perfect reading during election season.
And in the category of visual books, I got to talk with Barbara Lehman, a Caldecott Medal winner for her illustrated childrens’ books and pop-up artist Matthew Reinhart.
Later that evening, I caught Lake Woebegone author and Home Prairie Companion radio star Garrison Keillor, who packed the Pratt Library with more people than I’ve ever seen in a library.
And it didn’t stop at the weekend.
Monday night, Pulitzer winner Edward P. Jones read from his work and talked about his experience with writing at Goucher College.
And tonight, Augusten Burroughs will share his thoughts on the writing life at Towson University.
Then, this Sunday, I’ll be joined by two other fiction writers and two poets in “A Rumi-esque Reading,” where we’ll share our fiction. And on Monday night, a number of Maryland writers—myself included—will share our work aloud at the new Ukazoo Books in Towson.
It’s been a lit-filled week, and this fall the lit keeps falling.