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The LA Times Festival of Books…sans pictures.

Two hours ago I got back from attending the LA Times Festival of Books and I want to tell you all about it before I forget it all. Because apparently the fact that I jokingly say I have the memory of a goldfish is totally true (apparently it’s a myth that goldfish have a 3 second memory, but I’m all about selective belief, so I’m going to believe, for purposes of my story, that goldfish have a 3 second memory).

(I had actually forgotten a really fun night last year during the LA Times Festival of Books when I hung out with Jill, Amy, and Natasha. Seriously.)

I forgot to grab my camera before I left for Southern California which is a 7 hour drive from where I am. I thought about getting a disposable camera but decided that no pictures aren’t the end of the world.

The festival started off, for me, with one of the best, if not The Best, panel of the weekend: Fiction: Life Stories, moderated by David Kipen, who I ended up loving to fangirl proportions (see picture below) for his enthusiasm and preparation and general awesomeness.

To be fair, Kipen had quite the panel with Paul Harding (Pulitzer Prize winning author of Tinkers), Colson Whitehead, and Rafael Yglesias. I ended up buying both Whitehead’s Sag Harbor and Yglesias’ A Happy Marriage. The panel was quite entertaining with Colson’s humor, Harding’s self-deprecating manner, and Yglesias’ fascinating story about how he ended up writing A Happy Marriage (he wanted to write a book about the ups and downs of a long-term marriage, but he knew he would want to include many of his personal experiences, and a couple of years after his wife passed away, he realized he had that opportunity). I’d wanted to get Harding to sign my copy of Tinkers, but I left the freaking book at home. Gah.

One thing all three authors have in common is that not a lot happens in any of their books, so they all talked about what it’s like to keep a story interesting when nothing is really happening. Whitehead has the gift of humor, though his humor is subtle and easy to miss in Sag Harbor.

I think everyone, from the panelists to the audience, was jealous of Yglesias because his first book was published when he was 17, and he’s been writing ever since. He makes the art of getting published look like child’s play, while Harding relayed how Tinkers was rejected over and over.

I made a point to go to the Fiction: Writing the Fantastic panel because *coughLevGrossmancough* was on that panel. I don’t want Mr. Grossman to know what a freaking huge crazy fan I am, though I DID accost him after the panel and told him what a freaking huge crazy fan I am, but I don’t want him to find me just in case he Google Alerts his name.

(I read all his reviews and even watch these podcasts he does with this other dude about technology. I love it because he is such a nerd about technology. But I have to admit I picked up his book *coughTheMagicianscough* and read 78 pages then abandoned it. So when I accosted him I made sure not to lie and I said, “I love almost everything you’ve written.”)

The Writing the Fantastic panel largely went over my head because the moderator asked such involved and convoluted questions, but I was able to catch when Grossman, talking about his upbringing (lived in the suburbs, middle class, video game geek), said that he realized one day that his history is just that he’s a HUGE NERD.

To round off Saturday, I saw Michael Silverblatt interview Yann Martel, author of The Life of Pi and Beatrice & Virgil, which is his latest. I loved the interview and thought Martel provided some great insights into writing and reading, though I found him rather aloof when I had him sign my copy of Beatrice & Virgil. One of the audience members asked Martel if his use of animals, with their general lack of gender in literature, was purposeful. Martel denied that, but the question really made him think.

(I know I should have more specifics about what was said, but I didn’t have my notebook with me and, well, I’m lame. Sorry.)

When the festival was over, I almost lost my car. I was hobbling around in shoes that were comfortable for the first, oh, 6 hours, but at this point, around 5:30pm, I was ready to gnaw off my feet at the ankles because surely that would have been less painful. The reason I almost lost my car was because when I arrived at UCLA, I didn’t know where the hell I was going so I just pulled into a garage. I was stoked when I realized how close I was to the actual festival, but I only wrote down P3 East, which is what the sign said in the garage where I parked. Little did I know that UCLA has 12 parking garages, numbered P1-P12, and P3 was merely referring to the level I was on. MY CAR COULD HAVE BEEN ANYWHERE. After hobbling around for 30 minutes, I was starting to panic because a quick assessment of the position of the sun (using my fingers as a guide) showed I had an hour and a half to find my car. With a campus the size of UCLA, I figured I better HURRY THE HELL UP. I ended up finding my car directly across from where I was having my melt down.

After my car fiasco, I met up with some really inspiring and amazing bookish folk. While enjoying drinks with my new friends, I spotted *coughLevGrossmancough*! Are you starting to see a theme? I was able to stalk that guy all weekend.

The panels I saw on Sunday were largely ho hum (though I did tweet quite a bit from the Publishing: The Editors Speak Out panel, but that’s because it was a fairly straightforward panel). The one panel that was amazing was Fiction: Unstoppable Voices, with Susan Straight as the moderator. One of the panelists, Maile (pronounced like Miley) Meloy, author of Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It, I was particularly excited to see because I’ve been meaning to read her book for a few months now. When the panelists were asked advice on how to make yourself write, Jane Smiley replied with something along the lines of, “Have lots of kids and lots of horses so that when you do get a chance to write, you take it.”

I almost forgot that the panel The Art of the Critic was particularly exciting because *coughLevGrossmancough* ended up being added to the panel at the last minute. He really took that panel to another level, because I didn’t think David Ulin was a particularly good moderator. Grossman talked about how reviewers are in the business of entertaining people, and ultimately reviewers are writing for the reader, not the writer.

I was surprised to see that *coughLevGrossmancough* doesn’t write negative reviews anymore because I didn’t think his review of Beatrice & Virgil was particularly complimentary. In fact, I got the distinct impression he didn’t like it. I’ll never know, though, because I ended up rushing from this panel so I could go meet Jen from Jen’s Book Thoughts.

I was really stoked to hook up with Jen, even though we only were together for 30 minutes tops. In that 30 minutes, she managed to get me to buy:

I hate to paint Jen as this crazy amazing book pusher (which, is really not a lie. I know she’s never steered me wrong on a book, and I know she’s wracking up quite the body count of bloggers to whom she’s all, If you liked this, you’ll like that. I feel like a junkie around her. “TELL ME WHAT TO BUY!”), because it’s not like I didn’t totally fuel my own habit myself:

Not too bad, huh?

The best part of the festival was seeing so many people excited about books. It doesn’t matter if these folks read a book a month, a book a year, or 500 books a year. They all made a point to be at a festival that focused purely on books. Reading is such a solitary experience, and to feel the excitement from all these folks was really amazing. It made me excited to be a reader.

Here’s some other LATFOB recaps (more will be added as more become available):

| Tags: 41 comments »

41 Responses to “The LA Times Festival of Books…sans pictures.”

  1. Vasilly

    Jesus, I had no idea you were crazy for Mr. G. Does that mean I should finally read his book? ;-) After reading this post, you’re making me wish I went to the festival. Maybe next year. I never knew Jen was a book pusher. I definitely need to talk to her more about books.

    Isn’t Black Water Rising on an upcoming TLC book tour?

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Ehh…I abandoned Mr. G’s book, but I really really love his reviews. I need to go check out his other two books, because this latest one just wasn’t for me.

    And yeah, Black Water Rising is an upcoming TLC book tour, but I’m not on the tour. :( And this author I was chatting with was reading it and highly recommended it, so I went ahead and bought it.

    [Reply]

    Vasilly Reply:

    Okay, so I’m not going to bother with his books and just read his reviews if he has your heart pumping that hard. ;-)

    [Reply]

  2. Florinda

    My post will be up tomorrow. If I’d gone back to LATFoB on Sunday, I probably would have been at most of the panels you mentioned. And thanks for the heads-up on how to pronounce Maile Meloy’s name! I’ve read her two novels, Liars and Saints and A Family Daughter, but not her newest book, since I’m not so much for short stories.

    It was great to see you on Saturday, even briefly! But I had a feeling those shoes were going to be bothering you after a few hours…

    Back again next year? :-)

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Did you like Liars and Saints and A Family Daughter?

    And you’ll absolutely see me next year! I’m holding out hope that Tana French will be at the Festival of Books at some point again. She was there in 2008, but I attended for the first time in 2009.

    [Reply]

    Florinda Reply:

    I liked Liars and Saints a lot, A Family Daughter not quite as much – the books have many of the same characters, but different perspectives.

    [Reply]

  3. Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy)

    I have been there, done that with parking my car. Yes indeed. Oh, my word … definitely a nightmarish experience. Great recap of the festival, even without photos! Makes those of us who weren’t there feel like we were. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Oh, I’m glad you like my recap. My description of the panels aren’t as in depth as I would have liked, but next year they’ll be better because I’ll take a notebook with me. :)

    [Reply]

  4. Cynthia V

    I just had to post and tell you how much I always enjoy reading your blog. I’m sorry you lost your car, but I laughed so hard when I read what you posted. Priceless! Thanks for filling me in on what goes on at a festival, it sounds like great fun.
    Thanks also for the new books to add to my TBR list.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Cynthia, you totally just made my day! I totally think losing my car is hilarious, and I’m glad it came across that way. :)

    Let me know if you end up reading any of these books!

    [Reply]

  5. Cynthia V

    I see that you’re reading Still Missing! I devoured that book in a couple of days! Great book!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    OMG I totally agree. I need to update that sidebar because I finished it SO FAST. I really thought it was great!

    [Reply]

  6. Lisa

    So you forgot your camera, your copy of The Tinkers, and your notebook. If you were older, I’d swear you were going through menopause. Maybe it’s just that you were so excited about seeing **coughLevGrossmancough** that you couldn’t remember anything. Like where you parked your car–too funny!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    I know, right? I’m 30 and acting like I’m 45. Argh. The other option is being pregnant, but that’s not it either. LOL

    [Reply]

  7. Amused

    It was so great to meet you on Sunday and I am happy to see you enjoyed most of your panels! My post will go up tomorrow. It took me a while to process all of my thoughts about the event because there was so much going on! Glad you had fun and made the drive home safely!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Leah, you and your mom were a total highlight. I hope we meet up soon!

    [Reply]

  8. Stacie.Make.Do.

    No way. I knew Maile Maloy! She and I stage managed a play my first year of college in MT. Pretty sure she was a hs senior, I a college freshman. I left that school after a year, and didn’t know her outside of theater stuff, so definitely not claiming we were close or anything. I had no idea she was an author! When I saw her name here I thought, “Why do I know how to pronounce that already?” and then “How many Maile Maloys can there be?” and sure enough, I clicked thru to her website and that is definitely the same gal. She looks just as pretty now as she did as a teen. I’m so glad you mentioned her; what a blast from the past. Now I’m curious to read her books.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    WOW! This is so cool!

    [Reply]

  9. Mark

    It was great to meet you briefly Saturday. It wasn’t until dinner Saturday night that I figured out you are from my hometown. That would have been a fun connection had we made it sooner.

    (And my recap is up if you want to link to it.)

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Dang! Well, we’ll have to remember to discuss Sonoma County next year. :) Great meeting you! I’m linking to you now.

    [Reply]

  10. Lenore

    Isn’t it funny how you sometimes see an author over and over? Last year at BEA I saw David Levithan everywhere, and at Bologna it was Richard Peck. I’m sure they were stalking *me*. LOL.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    HA! I wish I could say he was stalking me. *sigh* Err…maybe he *was* stalking me! Woohoo!

    [Reply]

  11. Sandy

    I was quietly and sulkily following your fun on Twitter…so jealous. Thanks for the recap, but somebody needs to post some pictures! I would have to second the vote for Robert Crais. I heart him, and predict that you will develop a little crush on him and his character Joe Pike.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    I think I’ll love Crais, too. Can’t wait to get into the Pike books…look for reviews soon! :)

    [Reply]

  12. nat @book, line, and sinker

    i was just reading about the book festival on an online newspaper–glad you had fun! i love attending events that host authors–i’m a bit of a pathetic author groupie myself. in the past, i’ve been known to totally dork out and gush like a teenager when meeting certain authors. a bit embarrassing, but true.

    can’t wait to hear how you like the books in your haul.

    ps. has hubby recovered from surgery? :)

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Hubby is 100% recovered from his appendicitis. His scar doesn’t look as bad as mine, but maybe that’s because his skin has some color and mine’s practically translucent?

    [Reply]

  13. Amy

    Sounds like such a great time! All of the panels sound really interesting, as do the books. I have never read anything by Les Grossman but will have to go check out his reviews :)

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    You should check out his books, too! I know Raych totally loved his latest book The Magicians. I’ll tell you about his other two once I’ve had a chance to read them. :)

    [Reply]

  14. Beth F

    Fun, fun, fun!!!! And (by the way): We don’t need no stinkin’ photos! Your write up was great.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Thanks! You’re the best. :)

    [Reply]

  15. Serena

    Yglesias was published at age 17…wow I really am more behind than I thought! LOL

    Sounds like a great event and you got to meet some great authors and bloggers. One of these years I’m going to fly out…though that would require money and money and money…you get the point.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    I know, Yglesias makes me feel like a slacker. LOL

    If you ever fly out, you can stay with me and my family. :) I don’t mean to tempt you, but I’m totally trying to tempt you. ;)

    [Reply]

  16. zibilee

    Oh my! It sounds like you had an amazing time ( excepting the hunt for the car!) I am glad you got to meet Grossman and attend a panel where he was moderating as well! I would love to attend a bookish event like this sometime. The closest thing we have here in Orlando is the Book Fest hosted by UCF. I recently attended that, and was able to meet Bernice McFadden and Ru Freeman. It was a pretty small event, and there weren’t any panels, but there were a few discussions and a book sale. I had a good time there!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    The event at UCF sounds cool! I missed out on really chatting with many authors because I was attending so many panels. YOU should totally come out for this event some day. I promise you’d have a place to stay! :)

    [Reply]

  17. Kristen

    Loved your re-cap. Makes me jealous that I don’t live anywhere close to a major book festival. Would be so cool to go to one someday!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    I don’t live close to a major book festival either. I had to drive 7 hours. So you might want to check within a 7 hour driving radius. :D

    [Reply]

  18. Jen - Devourer of Books

    You crazy stalker, you! Thanks for sharing that question about animals and gender, that’s something really interesting that I hadn’t thought of in relation to Martel’s work. Hmmm…

    [Reply]

  19. softdrink

    I can’t believe you were writing about this 2 hours after you got home! It’s almost a week later, and I still haven’t found time to write my post!

    [Reply]

  20. Ti

    I was really pleased with the panels that I chose. The Harding/Yglesias/Whitehead panel was awesome (as you know) and I have been drooling over David Kipen ever since. So witty and handsome.

    For next year, you better bring a change of shoes. Just your mention of hobbling around brought back my high heel days and I vowed never to wear them again if I didn’t have to.

    [Reply]

  21. Esme

    Trish-I cannot believe that you were at the LA Book Fair-we could have met. It was a fun weekend. Thank you for inviting me to be part of the book tour. I really enjoyed the book. If you have others let me know.

    [Reply]

  22. Kimberly

    This is the second time I am hearing of this festival in the past two days! I have never heard of it in my life, had never thought one even existed! How did I not know about this? There is one downfall for me to knowing about this and that is I will most likely never be able to go to it due to the distance. :( Do you happen to now any book festivals/conventions in the New England area?

    [Reply]

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