Classical KUSC Blog

April 29, 2011

2011 Festival of Books: A Preamble

Filed under: Kelsey McConnell,Programming — classicalkusc @ 4:08 pm

Hello! It is I, KUSC’s Resident Bookworm. It may not surprise you to learn that many of us (probably most of us) here at KUSC are big readers. But only one of us is blogging about the Festival of Books (i.e. me)! So, I have taken the liberty of christening myself the “Resident Bookworm.”

Perhaps it seems surprising that Los Angeles, the iconic movie town, would make a big place at the table for books, but I’ve been going to the Festival for years and am only surprised by two things: the masses of people in attendance and the amount of excitement in the air.  If print is dead, no one told us.

For the past several days I’ve been reading about the Festival and making lists of what to do and who to see. One list bound to get some attention is the list of LA Times Book Prizes.  Winners will be announced at a ceremony taking place tonight, although one winning author has already been announced. The woman who introduced us to Ramona, Ralph S. Mouse, Henry Huggins and Mr. Henshaw, Beverly Cleary, is being honored with the Robert Kirsch Award.

I don’t think I’ve read every single Beverly Cleary book ever published, but I bet I’ve come close.  I can still picture the covers of so many of her works; they are like old friends and not just to me, to my mom–who read them all as a kid–and probably to many of you as well. Plus, Beverly Cleary and I were both born in Oregon, so we’re practically related.

Cleary is now 95 years old and resides in California. There is a nice interview with her in the LA Times here.

If you’ve read or listened to anything about the Festival, I’m sure you know Patti Smith will be there.  She’s sharing the stage with Author/Publisher Dave Eggers. Thinking about getting tickets? Forget about it!  A fellow KUSCer found out the hard way that they’ve all been snapped up (conversely, if you happen to have an extra, I just might know someone who’ll take it).  I am a Patti Smith fan and I saw her read from her inspiring memoir Just Kids at Skylight Books a while back. The word “icon” gets thrown around a lot (especially in my own head as I see who will be appearing at the Festival), but Patti Smith is that. I don’t blame anyone for wanting to hear her in person, but there are a lot of other amazing, and, well, iconic, people appearing this weekend as well.

A few other things I’m looking forward to tomorrow:

  • Jennifer Egan, fresh off several very major award wins for her novel A Visit from the Goon Squad, appears at 10:00 AM on a panel called “Fiction: Breaking Boundaries.”

Megacities do not pretend to be pretty or picturesque, do not pretend to deny that ours is now a planet overrun by humans, and that humans are filthy and destructive creatures but are also prone to romancing one another. The megacity is the perfect place for romance. Romance between two people, between strangers exchanging quick looks on a platform. Romance for the entire tenuous proposal that is a global society.

  • At 2:30 on Saturday, actor and slight-of-handist Ricky Jay talks to Joe Morgenstern.  Both of their voices may be familiar to KCRW listeners.  Morgenstern reviews films for the station and KCRW used to air “Jay’s Journal” (I hope I’ve remembered that name correctly), which gave Jay a platform from which to discuss the history of magic and magicians, circus side shows and whatever else tickled his fancy.  I saw Ricky Jay at the Festival several years ago and he thoroughly blew my mind by turning a book full of blank pages into a book filled with printed pages in one magical moment.
  • I am also looking forward to Festival-staple: frozen lemonade.

So how excited am I for the Festival of Books? See photo. That’s how excited I am about books pretty much all the time (I do have more teeth now). I’ll be blogging about my experience at the Festival throughout the weekend here at the KUSC blog. So please join me, and please join me in crossing my fingers that this weekend is pleasantly sunny, but not too hot.  See you at the Festival of Books!

Oh and if you need more information on who to see, how to get there and where to park, click here.

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