Saturday, October 31, 2009

2009 Texas Book Festival - Day 1

I managed to stay pretty much on schedule today with one major exception. I decided to skip the last hour so that I could make a side trip to a little community north of Austin to visit my brand new great niece. It was a good choice and I really enjoyed meeting her (she's five days old now).

I found the session on "Are Books Dead" t0 be fascinating despite the fact (or maybe because) all four presenters are heavily involved in the e-book business. The good news is that everyone on the panel ,and everyone else in the room, agreed that books are far from dead. The bad news is that panel members see the growth of e-books as another nail in the coffin of independent bookstores unless those stores find a way to specialize even more than they already do. There was also an interesting discussion on what public libraries might look like in anothrt ten years - again, not a very encouraging picture for book lovers. More later.

This is the House Chamber in which the first session was held (about 20 minutes prior to the session):

And this is a shot of the front part of the room:

The second session was in the same room and featured four excellent biographers who gave insights into their most recent biographies, their research techniques, biographers they admire, and plans for their next books.

From left to right, Brad Gooch, Blake Bailey, moderator Dwight Garner, Brenda Wineapple and Tracy Daugherty

I admit that I went into the Peter Maass presentation expecting the worst from him in regards to the oil industry and his discussion of his new book, Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil. Perhaps because he was speaking to a whole bunch of Texans, Maass was pretty even handed and did not try to make the oil companies into complete villains. There is plenty blame to spread around when it comes to oil's impact on producing countries and on the countries so desperately needing the oil of those third-world nations. It is not a pretty picture - and I'll have a whole lot more to say about the book when I can get it finished and sit down to write a formal review.

I managed to get this shot of Peter Mass (on the right) and moderator John Spong without annoying either of them too much (no flash involved):

Peter Maass, author of Crude World

And tomorrow is another day. Austin is pretty wild tonight, especially along its infamous 6th Street where tens of thousands hit the street in celebration of Halloween every year. From what I understand, it's a night the Austin police dread and they expect things to be particularly wild this year because this is the first time that Halloween has been on a Saturday night in eleven years. It's Austin's version of Mardi Gras.

I think I'll stay and read. How sad is that?


  1. I had Halloween in Austin on Saturday night in the late 80s. That was enough for me.

    Is John Spong the son of Bishop Spong?

  2. I haven't experienced Halloween in Austin on any night...but I have been to New Orleans for Mardi Gras (one time) and I have no desire to come even close to replicating that particular night ever again. Waste of time...

    You know, I don't know if John Spong is related to Bishop Spong or not...I do recall that he works for Texas Monthly.