Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Season of the Book Fest

What's my excuse for not blogging for several weeks? Another big double issue of Booklist, some actual writing other than book reviews, a book review for the besieged Los Angeles Times--look for it this Sunday: How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone, by Saša Stanišić, a Bosnian German writer, and translated by Anthea Bell. (See my reveiw of Honor Moore's The Bishop's Daughter in the new Bookforum.) And the Printers Row Book Fair in Chicago, where I was sorry not to speak with Richard Preston about his amazing book, Wild Trees, as planned, but where I had a fun time talking about nature, culture, and art with a superb watercolorist, Peggy Macnamara, who has a beautiful new book, Architecture by Birds and Insects: A Natural Art, and with Julia Bachrach, the historian for the Chicago Park District and author of a photo-rich book, Inspired by Nature: The Garfield Park Conservatory and Chicago's West Side.
I also watched Studs Terkel bring an audience to its feet as he riffed for 40 minutes without taking a breath. Studs is 96, and more vital than most folks half his age. And what a perspective.
Oh, right, there was also the Harold Washington Literary Award dinner, a benefit for Chicago's Authors in the Schools program. Columbia College's ardent fiction department chair and all around great guy Randy Albers spoke about Harold Washington, the city's first black mayor, and about Barack Obama, no explanation needed, and about this year's award winner, writer and activist Scott Turow. Who talked about growing up in Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood and his grandparents and finding his way to writing and the law. And who told a story about Harrison Ford. And it was all very moving and smart and caring and in such confounding contrast to the idiocy of what's going on in board rooms and back rooms and cells and bunkers elsewhere as to leave us all feeling bittersweet.
The new shows are stacking up. Soon we will expand the Open Books Radio web site with conversations with Sara Paretsky, Billy Lombardo, Gioia Diliberto, Hillary Carlip and lots more.
Read on.

1 comment:

M. D. Vaden of Oregon said...

In regards to Preston's and his book The Wild Trees, which you referred to - if you have read it, the tree names on this page migh be familiar:

Hyperion Redwood and Largest Coast Redwoods

The book review has something interesting in it too.