Thursday, October 23, 2014

Texas Book Festival: Lit Crawl 2014

So you're really not into sitting around listening to writers read from and then discuss their books, at least not when your sober. We understand, in fact if you pat us down at any book signing one of us has a flask. We have a solution to your problem and it's not rehab, it's Lit Crawl 2014.  Austin's Lit Crawl is inspired by the San Francisco literary festival Litquake’s long-running Lit Crawl. This is an opportunity to see your favorite writer possibly do something dumb, embarrassing, funny, and participate in general case scenario. Here is a list of some events we plan on hitting Saturday Night.    

Phase One

7:30-8:15 p.m.

The Volstead, 1500 E 6th St.
Sexist Bingo
Join VIDA, Tin House, and Buzzfeed Books for Sexist Bingo. Name the authors of wildly offensive sexist quotes, from Mailer to Franzen, to win prizes—beer koozies, T-shirts, magazines, books, and sexist shots. With Isaac Fitzgerald,Courtney MaumJenny Offill, Elissa Schappell, Rob Spillman, and Darcey Steinke.

Texas State Cemetery909 Navasota St (enter at east gate, located on Comal St. between 7th and 11th) THIS HAS BECOME ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR EVENTS FOR TBF
Survive. Thrive. Plunder. Or End Up 6 Feet Under.
Stories from YA and middle grade stars Adam GidwitzMichelle Knudson, and Dayna Lorentz.  **This event is for all ages. The cemetery can be dark—bring a flashlight!** 

The Liberty, 1618 1/2 6th St.
One Page Salon
Host Owen Egerton asks a selection of authors a few tantalizing questions. Each author then reads just one page of a work-in-progress. With Sarah Bird, Manuel Gonzales, Josh Weil, and Deb Olin Unferth.

Wonderland, 1104 E 6th St.
American Short Fiction Presents Whose Line Is It, Anyway?
Jennifer duBois, Maggie ShipsteadMurray Farish, and J.M. Tyree compete against each other to guess lines from each other’s latest works. Adam Lefton emcees.

Phase Two

8:30-9:15 p.m.

The Volstead, 1500 E 6th St.
The Austin Review IRL
Come hang out with The Austin Review and hear Austin KleonEdan LepuckiMaxwell Neely-Cohen, and Ursula Villarreal-Moura opine about the joys and miseries of the Internet while you enjoy a well-mixed cocktail.
 Wonderland, 1104 E 6th St.
Nerd Jeopardy
Modeled after the popular game show, with a big blue board, Daily Doubles, and answers in the form of a question. Authors Charles BlowKate Payne, and Jeff VanderMeer compete. Hosted by Paul Morris, PEN American Center.

Phase Three

9:30-10:15 p.m.

Clayworks Studio/Gallery, 1209 E 6th St.
Buzzed Trivia
Enjoy complimentary whiskey from High West between rounds of trivia. Featuring

The North Door, 502 Brushy St.
Literary Death Match
Four authors. Three judges. Two finalists. One really epic finale.
Competitors: Marie-Helene BertinoScott CheshireMira Jacob, and Marlon James battle it out. Judges include Jim Magnuson on literary merit, David Yow on performance, and Sloane Crosley on intangibles.

The Volstead, 1500 E 6th St.
Fantagraphics & Foxing Quarterly Present Drink & Draw
Bring your sketchbooks and join Fantagraphics artist Tim Lane for a night of drinking and drawing. Plus, live music and giveaways!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Texas Book Festival: A Brief History of Seven Killings

You won't read anything like A Brief History of Seven Killings, the new Marlon James novel, this year (or anytime soon).  It is both epic and lyrical. Search the blog; I can't imagine that we've used those words often. The novel requires your full attention and offers several narrators as it sweeps through the modern history of Jamaica. 

Marlon James
James wastes little time as this 700 page book opens with the narrator describing his own murder, then leaps into the failed assassination attempt on Bob Marley. The novel continues with different narrators through decades of Jamaican violence, change, more violence, and more change. It's what we call a holy shit novel. It's not really a fast read and it's not really an easy read. It is, however, a must read. I know I've said many things that may make the casual reader run the other way, 700 pages being one of them, but don't. This will be a novel you will be talking about, raving about, talking people into reading for years. 

A big thank you to Penguin Random House rep Eric Buscher (Blue Shirt Guy) for recommending this fantastic book. 

Don't miss the opportunity to meet Marlon James on Saturday in the Kirkus Review Tent at 12:45pm-1:30Pm 

Check out the full Book Festival Schedule

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. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Texas Book Festival: Oveta Culp Hobby (in spirit)

So as you know, Liz and I don't really read young adult books very often, and we certainly don't read children's books (only because they always kill the dog or the horse) but I am going to recommend Oveta Culp Hobby: Colonel, Cabinet Member, Philanthropist because it's about a fascinating woman that I had actually never heard of before last year and I've sold it to hundreds of Texas women and zero children. That only proves that kids simply refuse to read a book that has philanthropist in the title. 

May 4th, 1953
Oveta Culp Hobby (1905–1995) had a lifetime of stellar achievements. Think I'm kidding?  During World War II, she was asked to build a women’s army from scratch—and did. Let me say that again, she built a women's army from if your thing is a woman in uniform, you have her to thank (and for some of us she lived out a fantasy).  She then became Director of the Women's Army Corps and the first Army woman to earn the rank of colonel. Yeah, so if your thing is saluting a woman in uniform...she's your gal. 

President Eisenhower then chose her as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, making her the second woman in history to be appointed to a President’s cabinet. When the United States faced an epidemic of three people getting Ebola, she solved the crisis in a week! Okay, that never happened, I wanted to see if you were paying attention. 

When she wasn’t serving in the government, Hobby worked with her husband, former Texas governor William P. Hobby, to lead a media empire that included the Houston Post newspaper and radio and TV stations. Yeah, Rosebud Texas style. 

She also supported the Houston community in many ways, from advocating for civil rights for African Americans to donating generously to the Houston Symphony and the Museum of Fine Arts. 

So my question to you, dear reader, is, what the hell are you doing with your life? (Reading this blog. For shame.)

Debra Winegarten
Come meet Debra Winegarten on Saturday in Capital Extension room E2:016 (I've been in that room and it's fantastic!) at 11:45-12:45. Afterwards, Debra is buying everyone lunch!

Check out the full Book Festival Schedule

Friday, October 17, 2014

Texas Book Festival: Boyhood: Twelve Years on Film

Boyhood Twelve Years On Film
University of Texas Press/IFC
(Ellar Coltrane pictured)

In 2002, director Richard Linklater and a crew began filming the “Untitled 12-Year Project.” He cast four actors (Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Ellar Coltrane, and Lorelei Linklater) in the role of a family and filmed them each year over the next dozen years. Supported by IFC Productions, Linklater, cast, and crew began the commitment of a lifetime that became the film, Boyhood

Seen through the eyes of a young boy in Texas, Boyhood unfolds as the characters—and actors—age and evolve, the boy growing from a soft-faced child into a young man on the brink of his adult life, finding himself as an artist.

Matt Lankes
Richard Linklater
Photographer Matt Lankes captured the progression of the film and the actors through the lens of a 4x5 camera, creating a series of arresting portraits and behind-the-scenes photographs. His work documents Linklater’s unprecedented narrative that used the real-life passage of years as a key element to the storytelling.

Boyhood: Twelve Years on Film presents an honest collection of faces, placed side-by-side, that chronicles the passage of time as the camera connects with the cast and crew on an intimate level. Revealing, personal recollections by the actors and filmmakers accompany the photographs.

Cathleen Sutherland

Come meet Matt Lankes, Richard Linklater, Ellar Coltrane, and Cathleen Sutherland 
Sunday in the House Chamber at 3:30pm. 
Check out the full Texas Book Festival Schedule here

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Texas Book Festival: Molly Antopol

I am just now realizing that over half the books of what will make up my year end top ten list will be represented at the Texas Book Festival. I think our blog and its three dedicated followers should get full credit. I’ll make t-shirts.

Now in paperback
The next author we are suggesting, nay, insisting you not miss this year is Molly Antopol, whose short story collection The UnAmericans is a stunner.  Long listed for the National Book Award (in a really impressive list of writers by the way) and a winner of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Award, Antopol is, to say the least, a rising star.  Her beautiful writing and rich characters are what shot this book up my list this year.  If I had to compare her writing or maybe the feel of this book, I would choose The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht; they are both smart, moving, original books. You know what, if you're a Lorrie Moore fan, these stories are right up your alley too. 

Visit Molly Saturday October 25th in the : Capitol Extension Room E1.026 at 12:45 

Check out the full book festival schedule 

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.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Texas Book Festival: James Magnuson

He knows he adorable...
James Magnuson's latest novel, Famous Writers I Have Known, is a  hilarious send up of MFA programs.  The novel is impossible to put down and gets off to a great start when con man Frankie Abandonato makes a possibly fatal mistake by running a lottery scam on the wrong mobster.  Fearing for his life, he makes a wise decision to ditch New York and  head to Texas, where he is mistaken for a reclusive and famous author V S Mohle  (think JD Salinger)  by students who were sent to pick him up at the airport. Mohle has agreed to teach a seminar at a prestigious writing program, and Abandonato thinks that it will be pretty simple to pull one over on these writer chumps. As Abandonato feels his way through each seminar you will laugh your ass off.

Famous Writers I Have Known is a wacky, non-stop caper and a must for any book lover. Oh, and if you need further convincing, you should know that Magnuson is the director of The Michener Center for Writers... be prepared for the occasional cameo. 

Visit James Magnuson in the Kirkus Reviews Tent on Sunday at 11:00 am. 
Check out the full festival schedule here