Paradise in Texas: 2014 Texas Book Festival

Elmer Kelton at the 2007 Texas Book Festival, ...
Elmer Kelton at the 2007 Texas Book Festival, Austin, Texas, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) by Larry D. Moore is licensed under  CC-BY-SA-3.0

One of the High Points of my life: Sitting in the first row of the Chamber of the Texas House of Representatives, with author Elmer Kelton at the speaker’s table right in front of me, and Liz Carpenter right behind me, and listening to Mr. Kelton talk about his writing career and respond to a question from the audience about why he couldn’t write good female characters.

Mr. Kelton said he’d heard that criticism, and he guessed it had merit, although he thought he’d done a pretty good job with Eve in The Good Old Boys, because she was really the moral compass of the book. He was sorry he hadn’t done better writing women, but at the age of seventy-plus, he didn’t know what he could do about it.*

It just doesn’t get any better than that.

English: at the 2011 Texas Book Festival, Aust...
English: “Sarah Bird at the 2011 Texas Book Festival, Austin, Texas, United States.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia) is licensed by Larry D. Moore under  CC BY 3.0

But the folks at the Texas Book Festival Organization keep trying.

The 2014 Texas Book Festival takes place this weekend, October 24 and 25, at the Texas Capitol in Austin.

More than 275 authors will appear at the Capitol and at other venues around town to speak about, read, discuss, and sign their books. For an alphabetical list of authors, or to search by genre or keyword, click here.

Nationally renowned authors coming to this year’s Festival include Martin Amis, Joyce Carol Oates, Walter Mosley, Norman Lear, Lidia Bastianich, Ziggy Marley, James Ellroy, Katherine Applegate, Nicholas D. Kristof, John Dean, Valerie Plame Wilson, and Héctor Tobar.

 Headlining authors also include Charles Blow, Emily St. John Mandel, Michael Ruhlman, Douglas Brinkley, Richard Linklater, Francisco Goldman, Meg Wolitzer, Jacqueline Woodson, and Sarah Bird.

 The physically fit can bike with authors on Sunday morning from 8:00 to 9:00, when H. W. Brands, Stephen Harrigan, Lawrence Wright, and Rob Spillman will lead a tour of downtown Austin.

H. W. Brands at the 2008 Texas Book Festival, ...
“H. W. Brands at the 2008 Texas Book Festival, Austin, Texas, United States.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia) is licensed by Larry D. Moore, under CC-BY-SA-3.0

 

This event is not an author reading; it is an hour-long mini-tour that allow [sic] a group of readers to engage with authors in real-life conversations on a more personal level.

 (Here, I must digress: The summer I was fourteen, my friend and I biked from Fentress to Staples and back, wearing bathing suits [why bathing suits I can’t remember, unless we thought all-encompassing sunburn would add to the fun] and chattering all the way. The idea, X years later, that I could engage in a real-life conversation with anyone while riding a bike anywhere–well, it is to laugh.)

Joyce Carol Oates by Shawn, CC BY-NC 2.0
Joyce Carol Oates” by Shawn is licensed under  CC BY-NC 2.0

There will also be a Literary Mayhem (a literary pub crawl), food everywhere you look, music, activities for children and families, and a raft of other book-centered activities all over the Capitol grounds, and, if it’s anything like last year’s festival, stretching down Congress Avenue.

And there will be exhibitors from the American Society of Civil Engineers to Zonk Books and plenty in between. Translation: BOOKS FOR SALE!

And, saving the best for last–

Saturday afternoon, mystery novelists Deborah Crombie, Timothy Hallinan, and Minerva Koenig will discuss the craft of mystery writing before an audience in the Capitol Extension.

More on that tomorrow. . .

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 *Mr. Kelton did, indeed, do a beautiful job with Eve. She was perfect. If you’ve not read The Good Old Boys, do yourself a favor and read it. Then see the movie. Not the other way around.

Texas Book Festival

 

Enjoying a good book at the 2009 Texas Book Fe...
Image via Wikipedia

 

I just told David that if he would accompany me through the author and book tents at the Texas Book Festival, I would treat him to breakfast at the restaurant of his choice.

Who could resist such an offer? Not my husband.

This is not surprising, since it’s after 2:00 p.m. and so far all he’s had today is coffee.

We spent yesterday morning at 15 Minutes of Fame, writing, and most of the afternoon at Austin Java with three other Famers, talking about writing, graduate school, surgery, a blue cheese hamburger, and whatever else came along. When all was said and done, mostly said, time for visiting TBF had flown.

In the past, we’ve had good times there. We’ve heard Ted Koppel, Scott Turow, Lucian K. Truscott, and John R. Erickson, author of the Hank the Cowdog (Head of Ranch Security) series.

One year I sat on the floor of the House Chamber and listened to Elmer Kelton. While I was waiting for the program to start–I’d gotten there extra early to get a seat down front–Liz Carpenter came in and sat right behind me. I was too shy to turn around and say hello, of course, even though I knew Ms. Carpenter would be pleased if I did. She wasn’t shy at all.

Another year in the House Chamber, I heard Horton Foote. His soft voice and slow drawl–true Southern, unmixed with Texas twang–was music, just like his words on the page.

I won’t get to hear Kelton or Foote, or anyone quite like them, again. Or Liz Carpenter either.

So I’m grateful that the TBF allowed me to see them up close, to feel that for just a moment, they knew I was there, thanking them for the pleasure their books and plays and mere existence had given me over the years.

Now we’re one our way to walk through the tents, visit with some writers we know, buy a few books, help support TBF’s grant program for public libraries, and celebrate the printed word.

Then on to an omelet at the restaurant of David’s choice.