The Florida Book Awards (FBA) panel had it all—brilliant readings, thought-provoking discussion, and a harmonica solo. It featured four of the 2011 award winners. Leonard Nash, himself an FBA winner and then judge, introduced the writers with a combination of standard credentials and lesser known facts.
Lynne Barrett (general fiction award) read from her story collection Magpies. In "One Hippopotamus," a story comes to light and a romance unfolds thanks to a so-Florida event—a thunderstorm-induced power outage.
"Glen Duncan, author of Talulla Rising, wastes no time on small talk, launching straight into his reading. His accent brings a hypnotic, sleep-inducing serenity to his words, even as he describes a werewolf tearing the throat from a woman."
This was the event to end all events. A beautiful poetry reading by Campbell McGrath, Kevin Young, Richard Blanco, and Dana Gioia. Young dealt us pork and pain. McGrath bathed us in banana and creatures from the bay. Blanco showed us the shame in Legos, and Gioia recited his classic verse with effortless style.
Annik Adey-Babinsky, of the Florida Book Review, shared this with us earlier:
"Building Three Chapman Hall: Naomi Wolf begins by telling the audience that she wrote Vagina: A New Biography, because she found that western society's understanding of female sexuality was 40 years out of date."
One book and 40 more years current, I'm still on the fence about society having women down to a science.
There's a lot of swooning to be done when a well-known Brat Packer decides to spend part of her day reading to you from her new book When it Happens to You. Here are just a few of the many endearing comments we've spotted on the web today about Molly Ringwald:
"The audience releases a collective groan when the presenter announces that Molly Ringwald will only besigning books following her reading. No DVDs, posters, or other memorabilia." - Ed Lavin
Kill Shakespeare! Those are the first words to which my engineer boyfriend Adam was attracted when we arrived at the Book Fair (other than "ham and cheese croissant"). He beelined to the colorful table and picked up a book with a quill pen drawn on the cover, and we were greeted by Conor McCreery's friendly, "Hello! Do you like graphic novels?" Both Adam and I are fairly indifferent, and I think Conor could tell, but he didn't miss a beat.
Ed Irvin reminds us why we can't always trust technology to have our backs:
"Siobhan Vivian, co-author of Burn for Burn, comparing stories of name butcherings, says her college writing professor took to calling her Soybean because that's what Microsoft Word auto-corrected her name to."
The Mystery Writers of America panel were all business. At least, they were until they became mystery writers. The panel, held in what the moderator called "the recovery room," featured three members from the association: James Grippando, Jeffrey Siger, and Sharon Potts. All three members were "over-educated lawyers and business people who have fallen upon hard times as writers."
Everybody knows Junot Diaz is a cool cat. A slick dude, a sharp-talker. He’s also a literary superstar. Mix brilliance with sly wit and you’ve got a fantastic reading.
Tonight, Junot Diaz made an evening stop at the Miami Book Fair. At 6:45 pm, the Dominican-American writer sauntered up to stage wearing a faded red t-shirt and glasses. Diaz casually leaned on the podium, scanned the crowd and said, “It’s great you all came out here. It’s Monday…and you’ve got plenty of shit to do on Monday.”
The volunteers at the Book Fair have a rough job herding the audience into their seats before each event. As I entered Chapman Auditorium for the Evening with Drs. Brian and Amy Weiss, I asked one of the volunteers where I should sit. He answered, "I don't care where you sit, as long as you don't run nobody over." Looking around, I could see this might be a bit of a concern. The room was packed and the volunteers were very busy, trying to make sure all of the seats filled in an orderly fashion.