Saturday, October 22, 2011

Texas Book Festival - Saturday

Juan Williams
What a great first day to the 2011 Texas Book Festival.  I was able to see everyone I mentioned yesterday with the exception of Kathy Reichs, and the only reason I didn't see her was because I opted for a session that included three first time novelists instead.  The big attraction to that session was Chad Harbach, whose The Art of Fielding I reviewed here just a few days ago.  Also part of that cool Q& were've Amy Waldman and Justin Torres.  All three new novelists were refreshingly honest about what their sudden success has meant to them and how they've handled it.

I also enjoyed the session with Tom Perrotta who offered insights into his new book, The Leftovers, that will help me do a much better job when I review it in the next day or two.  Tom read a surprisingly long section of the book that left the good-sized audience chuckling...a seduction scene gone very, very wrong.

I also sat in on a hilarious "Literary Death March," during which four very funny authors  read seven-minute excerpts from their latest books (who would believe that a cook book could be so funny?)..  In an setting resembling American Idol, three judges chose two finalists who then competed in a literary game to determine the overall winner.  The four writers included: Karen Russell (Swamplandia!), Charles Yu (How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe),  and eventual winner Martha Hall Foose (A Southerly Course: Recipes and Stories from Close to Home).

...but the dog is bored
I also attended an interesting session on The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral presented by Jeff Guinn..  I've heard the corrected record on this famous "gunfight" before, but Guinn offered some insights into the principle players I hadn't heard before.  He also talked about his book on Bonnie and Clyde and the movie that might result..all in all, an interesting 45 minutes.

The highlight of the day, though, was the first session I attended, 45 minutes with author/columnist/commentator Juan Williams who spoke in detail of his firing by NPR almost exactly one year ago.  The incident, according to Williams, accounts for about ten percent of his new book, Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate.  During the Q&A following his remarks, Williams surprised me by revealing that his recent-college-graduate-son is a conservative Republican.  Juan is pretty far left of center, so that probably surprises him as much as it surprised me.

Nice day...

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