Monday, October 20, 2014

Texas Book Festival: Cynthia Bond and Bill Cotter

If there's one book that has lingered in my head this year, it's Ruby by Cynthia Bond. Bond is a talented writer in the vein of Toni Morrison, but she's also managed to write a harrowing novel set in my old stomping ground in Southeast Texas. Seriously, she sets Ruby in towns of several hundred people that only the locals could pinpoint on a map. And if you grew up in the Piney Woods, you know that beyond the natural beauty of the Big Thicket there's a potential for sinister acts. Ruby is about, well, Ruby, a woman who returns to East Texas after years away in New York. She's back, but she's also sleeping with all of the men in her small community and not attending church...or bathing. Ruby is a damaged woman, a haunted woman, a point of obsession for the community that created her. Parts of Ruby reminded me of Sula, one of my favorite books ever, and author Cynthia Bond has a huge literary future before her.

And then there's Bill. Bill Cotter quite possibly is the real life version of the Dos Equis "Most Interesting Man in the World." He's smart. He's funny. He's lived an unconventional life. And he's a talented writer. I worked with Bill for a couple of years at BookPeople and he was the one who kept me from going postal on occasion. Fresh out of college and uncertain of my life trajectory, Bill was an example of someone willing to live on his own terms. When he left the job I was pretty distraught (far more so than when Gianna left Random House; I never really liked her). That Bill has found success as a writer with the super cool McSweeney's Press is pretty phenomenal, his last book called The Parallel Apartments, which Texas Monthly called "Funny and profane and more than slightly unhinged." Hell yes. 

Go to this event.

Cynthia Bond and Bill Cotter will be appearing at 2 pm on Saturday, October 25, in Capitol Extension Room E1.026. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Texas Book Festival: Nicholas Kristof

New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof has become a champion for human rights globally, from human trafficking victims, to girls denied access to education because they are girls, to the people falling through the cracks in our own country. A few years ago Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn wrote Half the Sky, a call to arms for recognizing the global potential of the human race if we quit repressing half the population. Thanks to Oprah and a PBS series and a bunch of course adoptions, Half the Sky sat atop the bestseller lists for weeks.

Nicholas Kristof's new book (again written with WuDunn) takes the idea of  further. A Path Appears picks up with how we can work toward equality with steps taken in our own backyards. You don't need to go to Eastern Europe to fight sex slave operations; you do need to speak up for the daughter across the street whose parents are beating her. When you're enduring another assault from the daily news cycle of fear, oppression, and terror, A Path Appears can combat feelings of helplessness.
Half the Sky

Nicholas Kristof will be speaking on Saturday, October 25, in the House Chambers at 10 am. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Texas Book Festival: Station Eleven and Emily St. John Mandel

The National Book Award finalist shortlist was announced this morning, and low and behold, there is Station Eleven. I am giddy. In case you missed it, here's my list of reasons you should read Station Eleven, and you can add "the author will be at Texas Book Festival" to the list. And she's a National Book Award finalist. And this is Emily St. John Mandel:

We all know that this woman will be Gianna's next stalking victim.

What are you waiting for? Why haven't you read Station Eleven yet?

Emily St. John Mandel will be speaking at 3 pm on Saturday, October 25th in the Kirkus Reviews Tent.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Texas Book Festival: Merritt Tierce

I wrote a long piece about Merritt Tierce's Love Me Back a few weeks ago. I think it's one of the most important novels to be published this year, and one that doesn't flinch from taboo subjects and representations. Love this book or hate it, this is a book that demands conversations. Why not have those conversations with the author herself? Merritt Tierce is smart, articulate, and sometimes hilarious in person. She's as ballsy as her prose and falls into the grand tradition of fierce Texas women. Need proof? Tierce, who like her novel character worked at a high end steakhouse in Dallas, twice waited on conservative drug addict nutjob asshat pundit Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh left her $2,000 tips, but being a staunch defender of women's and abortion rights, Tierce opted to launder Limbaugh's tips into the TEA Fund, an organization that helps cover the cost of abortions for those who can't afford them. Since this story was revealed, Tierce has received death threats and harassment from Limbaugh's cult supporters. Merritt Tierce is a bad ass.
Don't mess with
Texas women.

If you're a serious book lover, a fan of experimental fiction, an engager of difficult subjects, one who believes that all voices deserve to be heard, you are the people who should seek out Merritt Tierce at the Texas Book Festival and you should read Love Me Back

Merritt Tierce will be participating in the Autobiographical Fiction panel at Texas Book Festival on Saturday, October 25, at 3:15 pm, in Capitol Extension Room E1.026.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Texas Book Festival: Colson Whitehead

Now we've come to another installment of "Colson Whitehead, Will You Marry Me?" I'm sure I've mentioned the incredibly talented Mr. Whitehead on this blog before...such as here...and here...and here. In spite of the online stalking, my literary hubby for some reason agreed to travel to the Texas Book Festival again this year. I do consider this information as a sign that he's coming around to my version of reality. I can't wait to introduce Zorro to his new daddy!

"Keep that Liz weirdo away
from me."
Because I know that all of you would like to meet the man who's stolen my cold, cold heart, I encourage the masses of Adventures in Bookland devoted followers to attend Mr. Liz's Whitehead's Texas Book Festival panel. I guarantee that it'll be fun. The panel is about poker, and The Noble Hustle--Whitehead's book about competing in the World Series of Poker--is pretty darkly hilarious. And not only can you vet my future spouse (see if he minds a casual nuptial, as I don't really like ceremonies, or people, or clothes with buttons), but you can improve your own gambling skills. Learn firsthand how to sit for hours on end without losing concentration! Discover how antisocial introverts without job skills earn a living! Become the emotionless automaton you always hoped to be!

I love The Noble Hustle--one of my favorite books of the year--and Texas Book Festival gives you the opportunity to discover how great it is too.

Colson Whitehead will be speaking at 12:30 pm on Saturday, October 25, at the Texas State Capitol: Capitol Auditorium Room E1.004.