Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Southern Festival of Books Returns

I got an email this week that I've been waiting for -- the author list for the Southern Festival of Books has been confirmed and posted! For non-readers, this would not invoke any excitement whatsoever; however, for me, it's like Christmas. Actually, it's my birthday! The Festival is held on approximately the same weekend each year, and it always happens to fall right around my birthday. This year, it's held directly on my birthday. The Festival takes place this year on October 9 - 11, which will span one weekend from Friday to Sunday.

For those of you who don't know much (or anything) about the SFB, here's a little background from their website:

The Southern Festival of Books: A Celebration of the Written Word is a three-day literary Festival. . . . The Festival annually welcomes more than 200 authors from throughout the nation and in every genre for readings, panel discussions and book signings. Book lovers have the opportunity to hear from and meet some of America's foremost writers in fiction, history, mystery, food, biography, travel, poetry and children's literature among others. In addition . . . the Festival hosts popular book exhibitors and programs three performance stages throughout the event. The cooking stage highlights talented chefs preparing and discussing recipes from the latest food and cookbooks. The Café Stage features music by some of the area's most talented musicians and poets. Special events for children are planned on the Children's Stage including appearances by favorite characters and birthday parties to celebrate the anniversaries of great children's books.
You can visit the SFB website yourself for more information. Admission is free and there is no registration necessary.

The author list I mentioned above is also available on their website. You can view it by clicking here.

The SFB began in Nashville in 1989. In the mid-2000s it moved to Memphis for several years due to construction in the Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville, the location of most Festival activities. Last year it returned to Nashville for good. The organizers had played with the idea of rotating the Festival between Nashville and Memphis. However, this ended up being close to impossible given the preparations and manpower required for the Festival. Humanities Tennessee, organizers of the Festival, did not have the employee base in Memphis that it would have taken to hold the Festival there every other year. I can't say I will complain about the permanent move back to the Nashville area. I made the trip to Memphis one year only -- it was a long drive from where I am. The Nashville area is much more geographically friendly for most Tennessee readers, and the buildings where the sessions are held are replete with history. Last year my mom, my aunt, and I sat in both the House and the Senate rooms for various sessions. Part of our time was spent looking around at the ornate woodwork and reading names of congressmen and -women off of their nameplates!

In the past I have enjoyed seeing authors such as Rick Bragg, Lee Smith, Kaye Gibbons, Adriana Trigiani, Clyde Edgerton, and Silas House -- just to name a few. I've usually skipped the other entertainment (musicians, children's stage, etc.), but last year we sat in the (very hot) sun at the Food Stage and listened to/watched New York Times food writer and journalist Julia Reed. Reed is currently on the staff of both Vogue and Newsweek. She has written about everything from food to politics. She lives in New Orleans and has written a book, The House on First Street, about her experiences before and after Hurricane Katrina. She regaled us with crazy stories of southern dinner parties in her NYC apartment and spoke honestly about her experiences in a post-Katrina New Orleans (she doesn't like Emeril -- he took too long to re-open his New Orleans area restaurants after the storm). Reed also made a batch of her bourbon-laced milk punch. We (very lightly and slowly) sipped her concoction which could knock you down from the third row. Let's just say she didn't have a light hand when it came to the alcohol. So after that hilarious venture, I think I'll try to make some more visits to stages other than the strictly literary ones.

Here's a quick run-down on the authors to look forward to at this year's Festival:

  • Buzz Aldrin (that's right -- THE Buzz Aldrin, a.k.a. Moonwalker)
  • A. Manette Ansay (author of the Oprah's Book Club selection Vinegar Hill)
  • Elizabeth Berg (NY Times bestselling author many times over)
  • Rick Bragg (always one of my favorites and author of haunting memoirs)
  • Jan Burke (mystery writer of the Irene Kelly series)
  • Dixie Cash (writer of a very funny mystery series set in Texas about hairdressers)
  • Kate DiCamillo (author of Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux)
  • Lauretta Hannon (I haven't read anything by her, but she's commentator on NPR's All Things Considered and she has written a memoir which sounds pretty amusing titled The Cracker Queen: A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life)
  • Silas House (I love every novel he has written, and I'd probably want to marry him if he wasn't already married with children...)
  • Kathy Mattea (her voice has always reminded me of my mom's and I love it!)
  • Kathryn Stockett (newcomer and quickly rising author of The Help, which has topped bestseller lists for the past year)
I'm sure you will be able to find your own list to look forward to as you peruse the authors scheduled to appear at this year's Festival.

One last note: The SFB is promoting a contest each week until the Festival in which they Twitter clues about a specific author. If you reply correctly to one of their Twitter threads, your name is placed in a drawing. The prize will only thrill the truly-devoted reader, so of course it thrills me (!) -- you get a free pass to move to the front in the book-signing line of your choice at the Festival. This may not sound like a lot, but I've waited in line for 45 minutes or more to have books signed and speak to some of my favorite authors. So enter if you wish! Their Twitter site is here. You must have a Twitter account to reply and enter.

1 comment:

  1. I am listening to The Help on my iPod between work and home and I am adicted!



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