Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Boston Book Festival '10

This past Saturday was the second annual Boston Book Festival, a free, public one-day celebration of all things literary. The day was packed with speakers, exhibits, booksellers and workshops; the event kicked off at 10am and went until early evening- and then into the evening, if you count parties and after-events.

My husband and I took the subway to Copley Place around 10:30, too late for the first event but just in time to get a head start on browsing the outdoor exhibits and displays. There were booksellers, journals and magazines, writing centers and more. And the weather couldn't have been better!

That's some of the swag we got- just some little things. The purple magazine is an issue of a local journal called "One Story," which features, yes, one short story per issue. This issue features a story by A.M. Homes. I also picked up a copy of Tom Perrotta's "The Smile on Happy Chang's Face," which was featured in the "One City, One Story" event, and a little package of tea with literary sayings on the tags.

I didn't attend the "One City, One Story" reading and discussion, and that was intentional- I didn't really like the story. I found it sort of uninspiring as short fiction goes, and I thought it was strange that for the Boston Book Festival, a story was chosen that takes place in New Jersey. Really? So I decided to skip that event.

The first talk we attended was at 12, "The Ancients," about the differences between portrayals of ancient history in the popular media and the real history. The panel included Caroline Alexander, Sir Peter Stothard and Stacy Schiff; it was moderated by Boston media notable Peter Kadzis. Alexander talked about the Iliad as a war poem, Stothard discussed Spartacus and Schiff talked about Cleopatra. It was fascinating!

Unfortunately we had to duck out a little early because I arranged a little tweetup at 1:00 at Bukowski's, a nearby bar that pays tribute to the late poet Charles Bukowski. Appropriate for a literary festival, no? Anyway a few friends made it out and we had a nice time chatting and noshing on their delicious food.

In the afternoon, Jeff and I attended "My Mother She Ate Me, My Father He Killed Me," a panel featuring authors Kathryn Davis and Kelly Link along with scholar Maria Tatar and hosted by author Kate Bernheimer, editor of a fairy-tale anthology of the same name in which Link and Davis are featured. Link and Davis read from the stories they contributed, and Tatar, a Harvard professor, talked about fairy tales from an academic point of view. I have a copy of the book for review and I've really been enjoying dipping into it. Books of short stories take me forever to finish but hopefully I'll have a review for you sometime in this lifetime!

Finally, Jeff and went to a free-writing poetry workshop hosted by Barbara Helfgott Hyett, a take-no-prisoners writing instructor and poet who for some reason latched on to my husband and teased him mercilessly about being a lawyer. Someone else in the workshop said she thought Ms. Hyett was uncomfortable because my husband was using his Blackberry for his writing exercises. Who knows. Anyway I really enjoyed her workshop and she was a very stimulating instructor. I'd love to work with her again.

I volunteered last year's festival but I didn't get to leave my venue all day so in a way I felt like this was the first year I got to go; I learned that it's important to plan your time and it's important to realize that while you'll never get to everything, with a little planning and forethought you'll get to enough and have a great time. Jeff and I had a fantastic time, aided by a beautiful fall day and lots of incredible choices, authors and events. Thank you so much to the organizers of this year's festival for an unforgettable day!

13 comments:

Beth F said...

Sounds like an amazing day. I may just have to move.

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

A great day it sounds. Wish I could get these events to attend.

bermudaonion said...

I'm hoping our area will start a book festival in the future. There are 3 of them within 2 hours of us, but none right here. Sounds like a great way to spend the day.

Alayne said...

I'm so glad you went to the My Mother She Killed Me session! I was the Event Producer up front with the time cards and the bright orange shirt. :) I also bought some of the literary tea (who can resist?!). Glad you were able to have a good time this year!
Alayne - The Crowded Leaf

Zibilee said...

I would love an event like this on my area! It sounds like there was tons to do and that all the events were varied and interesting. Also, I love the book tea!

Care said...

Glad you had fun! See you there next year. and hopefully maybe sometime on a Boston-Book-Tour-Trek of some sort...

jewwishes said...

It sounds as if you had a lovely day, and I'm glad you got to enjoy it, this year as an attendee.

contemplatrix said...

a wonderful sounding time! would love to find an event like that in my area--may have to research that. of course, one more reason to plan a Autumn trip to Boston....

glad you were able to enjoy it in a new way this year.

~L

readerbuzz said...

Does every city hold a book festival in the middle of October?! I went to the Texas Book Festival last weekend. I'd love to come to the Boston festival some year. Boston is such a fantastic city for readers.

diaryofaneccentric said...

Sounds like you had a great time!

Fibro Witch said...

I wish I had seen you there! Byron and I had a great time.

Michelle said...

Looks like it was a beautiful day in Boston for the festival. So jealous!

I'm glad you had an enjoyable event :)

stacybuckeye said...

What a great day. I feel like fall has completely passed me by this year. Thanks for the beautiful tree pics to remind me what I've missed :)