Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Festivals top Fall Treats

Readers love to meet book authors. In this region, a nearby appearance frequently provides the opportunity to buy an autographed book and exchange a few words with favorite authors. Novelists David Mitchell and Joe Hill (author-son of Stephen King) stopped in at Porter Square Books during September. Colm Toibin appears Oct. 16 at Brookline Booksmith and John Connolly will be at Jabberwocky in Newburyport on Nov. 5. Garth Stein comes to Porter Square Books Nov. 15. You'll have to get friendly with the MBTA, but there are plenty of literary events to attend in this area.
Next month, I'll list new and noted authors from New England who say they'll gladly Skype or otherwise meet with book clubs. This month, however, two big regional events offer multiple opportunities to indulge in author meetings.
First is Boston's own verrry biiggg book show, the Boston Book Fest, Oct. 23-25.
Literally scores of authors in many subject areas and genres will read, debate, teach and speak during the festival—most of which remains free to the public around Copley Square. Included are journalists, illustrators, and such well-known writers and personalities as: WBUR's Tom Ashbrook; Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam; Dan Chiasson; gaming author Ethan Gilsdorf; romance-mystery writer Marian Lanouette; Christopher Lydon; "Wicked" author Gregory Maguire; "You Are Not Special" author David McCullough Jr.; author and AGNI fiction editor William Giraldi; children's author Laura Godwin; authors Steve Almond, Claire Messud, Sue Miller, Kate Flora, Jennifer Haigh, Susan Minot, E.B. Moore, ZZ Packer, Chris Raschka, Meg Wolitzer and many, many more. For a complete listing, go to its website.
The festival is held in churches, small auditoriums and the Boston Public Library, all of them around Copley. A book fair occupies the square, with many displays and offerings from publishers, printers, schools, etc. There are also musical and reading activities for children.
Special guests include historian/biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin (also from Concord), who is keynote speaker. Young Adult adventure writer Rick Riordan will be speaking, as well as novelist/short story writer Susan Minot, world-class architect Normal Foster and internationally famed jazz pianist Herbie Hancock (newly, a memoirist).
"One City One Story," the festival's group short story selection, is "Sublimation" this year, written by Jennifer Haigh. She will be on hand for the discussion of her story, now being distributed free at coffee shops and other locations throughout the Boston area (including the library).
Follow the festival website for details (www.bostonbookfest.org). Volunteers are welcome, by the way, and contributions are appreciated.

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The Concord Festival of Authors lasts between Oct. 16 and Nov. 2.
Activities begin with the first Festival Forum—"Countdown: Our Last Best Hope for a Future on Earth?"—featuring Alan Weisman, author of "The World Without Us," at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 16 in the Harvey Wheeler Center, Concord. ; MIT Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky ("On Western Terrorism") is the last of three forum speakers. Second is Walden Woods Project hosting Marc Dunkelman, author of "The Vanishing Neighbor"—about the disappearance of American community.
As there are many different events and locations, please refer to the festival website, www.concordfestivalofauthors.com.
Events include a panel on "true crime" writing; an award presentation to best-selling author Nathaniel Philbrick ("Mayflower," "Bunker Hill," "The Last Stand" and "In the Heart of the Sea"); a panel of new authors; David McCullough Jr. (son of noted historian David McCullough), author of "You Are Not Special: And Other Encouragements"; a panel about how to publish your first book; fiction and nonfiction author Ann Hood ("An Italian Wife," "The Knitting Circle," "Comfort: A Journey Through Grief"). There are numerous events, most of them free.

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Finally, paranormal pleasures: There is an unusual event planned for Nov. 5 in Hartford, Conn. Novelist Anne Rice ("Interview with a Vampire") and her son, paranormal thriller writer Christopher Rice ("A Density of Souls," "The Heavens Rise") will appear at the Hartford Stage, 50 Church St., at 7 p.m., sponsored by the Mark Twain House & Museum. Anne Rice has returned to gothic writing and has a new novel, "Prince Lestat." Cost is $35 to the public. Go to HartfordStage.org for details.

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