Another Labor Day weekend, another book festival - the 6th Annual Decatur Book Festival, that is. The largest independent book festival in the United States, within walking distance of my house! As always, there was a lot going on and many choices to be made of which authors to hear and which would have to be missed. This year, there was the added feature of works being done on-site by the Atlanta Printmakers Studio. They hung their art to dry on the chain link fence surrounding the newly planted Courthouse lawn. No walking on the grass yet, but that was softened by these beautiful banners decorating the fence and the gazebo.
Of course, there were plenty of books for sale. The city closes off a parking lot and two of the main streets through town so vendors can set up their tents.
Another parking lot becomes the land of fried food and beer.
My friend, Diana, always the voice of reason, kept me away from the fried Milky Ways and funnel cakes for another year. My stomach thanks her!
On Saturday, Diana, Hali, Jim and I attended several good book presentations.
Butterfly in the Typewriter: The Tragic Life of John Kennedy Toole and the Remarkable Story of A Confederacy of Dunces, by Cory MacLauchlin. If you haven't read A Confederacy of Dunces, I highly encourage you to do so. It's a delightful, disturbing, and extremely funny novel. The highlighted book, however, was not a review, but rather an exploration into the tragic life of its author and the tenacity of his mother in getting his posthumous work published. I own a copy of John Kennedy Toole's book, and bought Cory MacLaughlin's.
The Night Circus by Evin Morgenstern. I read this book last year, and enjoyed it thoroughly. This is not your average circus by any means, and Evin gave a wonderful talk about how she imagined the story and brought it to life. I loved this book, too, and was very happy to get to see the author read and discuss this work.
Elixer: A History of Water and Humankind by Brian Fagan. Let me start by saying that Brian Fagan is an author who is clearly in love with his topics! He gave the most animated presentation of almost any author I've seen at these Festivals. He included a wonderful slide show to illustrate his talk, but unfortunately it went wonky before he was finished. Like the title says, this is the history of water and its impact on human civilization in the past and for the future. He also discussed his latest work, Beyond the Blue Horizon: How the Earliest Mariners Unlocked the Secrets of the Ocean. This book sounded even more fascinating than the one we originally came to hear about. Described as a navigator, archeologist, and historian, Brian Fagan is a fascinating speaker and I'm eager to read both of these books.
After all that culture, we repaired to a local Thai restaurant for dinner and then walked home and collapsed into bed. It was a wonderful day, marred only by the high heat and humidity, but that's the norm for this weekend and this event.
Today, Jim, Diana, and I were ready for more. After the first presentation, Jim was off him his own until the final one, but Diana and I stuck together all day. Here's what I saw.
A Short Fiction Celebration. This presentation included two authors discussing their recent collections of short stories. Adam Prince read from his book, The Beautiful Wishes of Ugly Men. Alir Ohlin read from her collection, Signs and Wonders. Of the two, I enjoyed Alir's more, and bought it so I can find out how the story she read part of will turn out. But Jim got the other, so I can read that, too. They both discussed their creative process, which I found very interesting. I'll try to remember to expand more on that in the coming weeks, as I have a writing project of my own that I'm going to try out here on the blog.
Buddah in the Attic, by Julie Otsuka. This is another book I read recently. A novel based on her family history, it's the story of "picture brides," young girls and women who are brought to American in the early 1900's by Japanese men who have already emigrated. Chosing a husband based only on a photo and a letter or two, these women made the long sea voyage leaving everything behind to go into an unknown and uncertain future.
The Maltese Touch of Evil: Film Noir and Potential Criticism, by Shannon Clute & Richard Edwards. I love old movies, and this was a fascinating look at the underlying commonalities and techniques in the "film noir" movies of 1942-1958, and that legacy appearing in the neo noir films of today. From The Maltese Falcon to A Touch of Evil, the darkest heart of man appears in many forms.
Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Power of the Mind, by Alex Stone. This was an extremely entertaining presentation, as Alex brought together the fields of magic, psychology, physics, math, and science. There were coin and card tricks, humor, and a few secrets of the magic trade were given away. This is another book I'm anxious to dig into.
As you see, it was ecclectic mix of topics, and as usual, all were extremely interesting in one way or another. But as I said, there were choices to be made. Here is a list of some of the books/topics I would also have enjoyed learning about.
The Christ Haunted South
Portraying the Natural South Through Photography and Writing
That's my literary exploration for this Labor Day weekend. What books do you think you would have enjoyed hearing about. And is there one you like that you'd recommend to me?