Thursday, October 08, 2009
The wait is over! The Boston Book Festival has just announced its official schedule of events, and with 31 to choose from, and you’re guaranteed a fun-filled, jam-packed day on Saturday, October 24 between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Click here for the list of sessions with times and locations.
In addition to our illustrious workshops, panels, presentations and performances, there will be more than 30 exhibitor booths set up in the plaza, featuring local booksellers, publishers, educators, and arts organizations. Meet authors and get books signed!
Don't forget to bring the kids! We have several great events planned for the young ones, including fun activities put on by some of our exhibitors-- the Boston Children's Museum, 826 and One Laptop Per Child for example. And don't be surprised if you run into Curious George or Madeline!
Also, be sure to check out the Festival Stage in Copley Square plaza, featuring live tunes ranging from a cappella to bluegrass, funk to reggae, with some impressive talent from Berklee College of Music.
Feeling peckish? Score a free cup of joe from Green Mountain Coffee or a chowdah sample from the Legal Seafoods Chowder Truck.
Due to the sheer volume of incredible activities at the Boston Book Festival, we recommend that you make a list of your must-see events and pre-register for ticketed events. And you may want to arrive early to get seats. Most importantly, come prepared for a thought-provoking, exciting, and all-around-exhilarating day. The Boston Book Festival: it’s literally amazing!
Friday, September 25, 2009
Where will the written word go when it’s not on paper? The Boston Book Festival will feature events that showcase emerging e-reader technology, delve into on-line user behavior, explore new storytelling techniques, look at how technology can reduce world poverty and demonstrate some amazing technologies. Here’s the rundown:
Tim Kring, developer and executive producer of the blockbuster television show Heroes, will give a highly visual presentation about his use of transmedia storytelling. Sponsored by Liberty Mutual.
New York Times personal technology columnist David Pogue will host an e-reader variety show (with music!), which will showcase many of the new electronic readers on the market.
Nicholas Negroponte and Iqbal Quadir will be on hand to explore how the spread of technology can have a positive impact on ending world poverty. Digital librarian Brewster Kahle will be on hand to talk about his role in making knowledge widely available. Sponsored by Verizon.
Wired Magazine contributing editor Jeffrey Howe will chat with Ben Mezrich, author of The Accidental Billionaires, a look at the founding of Facebook by two Harvard undergraduates and the viral growth of the site into a world- wide phenomenon, and Ethan Gilsdorf, author of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, a chronicle of his travels through the worlds of online gaming and live-action role-playing.
In addition, Cambridge-based E Ink Corporation will have a Festival booth in Copley Square showcasing its cutting edge technologies, such as flexible screens and color electronic ink.
These events will all take place during the Festival between 10 am and 6 pm on October 24, 2009 and are free and open to all with no prior reservations (or geek credentials) required.
To read more about Boston Book Festival events, CLICK HERE.
Friday, September 18, 2009
We are thrilled and honored that Orhan Pamuk, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature, will give the keynote presentation at the inaugural Boston Book Festival. Pamuk’s new book, The Museum of Innocence, is his first since winning the Nobel Prize and has been eagerly anticipated by his English-language readers. The book was published in Turkey in 2008 but the English edition will be released a mere four days before the Festival. For those who can’t wait, read an excerpt in the September 7 issue of The New Yorker.
The Museum of Innocence, like most of Pamuk’s novels, is set in his beloved Istanbul. And as in most of his novels, the contradiction between the modern and the deeply traditional inherent in that vast city plays a subtle role. It is against this backdrop that The Museum of Innocence offers a stirring exploration of the nature of romantic attachment and the mysterious allure of collecting.
Pamuk is no stranger to the compulsion to collect. His early years were spent amassing a huge library of books about all things Turkish and his happiest moments were spent in second-hand bookstores.
Pamuk writes, “I was missing out on life by burying myself in books—but even when I'd realized this, I'd still keep buying books, as if to take revenge on the life I was fleeing. It is only now, so many years later, that I realize how happy those hours were…” As for Pamuk’s experience of love, we will leave that question to his interlocutor, Christopher Lydon, host of Radio Open Source. The conversation is sure to be engaging.
Please join us at the Boston Book Festival on Saturday, October 24 at 5:00pm in the sanctuary of Old South Church for the keynote presentation by Orhan Pamuk. The presentation is free and open to the public. Check back soon for further details.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
The Boston Book Festival is going out with a bang in more ways than one. At 6pm on October 24th at the Boston Public Library, you're invited to join Dennis Lehane and six of the contributors to the new fiction collection Boston Noir (Akashic Books) as they celebrate the book's launch with an event and a party fit for Raymond Chandler and Sam Spade.
From Dorchester to Southie and from Beacon Hill to Brookline, eleven Boston neighborhoods and nearby communities are featured in stories by Brendan DuBois, Dana Cameron, Itabari Njeri, Jim Fusilli, Lynne Heitman and Russ Aborn. Boston Noir is a heart, soul and throat-gripping collection, edited by Dennis Lehane, our master of ceremonies for the evening.
Afterwards, enjoy a literatini, the official champagne cocktail of the Boston Book Festival, while you listen to music, have your handwriting analyzed and your fortune told. Noirish dress is optional, but there will be a prize for the best femme fatale and hard-boiled private eye.
Tickets are $15 and ARE AVAILABLE NOW. 21+. Space is limited so don't get mired in melancholic indecision; be sure to get your tickets early.
And tell the guy at the door that Bugsy sent you.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Listing the books on a nightstand presupposes one can find a nightstand under the books. What a fascinating problem: the disappearance of furniture in the reading household. Still, working a slight variety to the question, what books have been brought into my office in the past three or four months and have, as yet, neither been shelved or in some instances, read? Perhaps this list might be thought of as a localized sociological study.
In the order they appear from the keyboard at 4 a.m. this particular sleepless night, the first ten books my eye falls upon:
MRS. SOMEBODY SOMEBODY by Tracy Winn. (Southern Methodist University Press.) Tracy is a neighbor and friend but I have the book mostly because of the fine review in The Boston Globe.
A PASSION FOR LIFE: FRAGMENTS OF THE FACE OF GOD by Joan Chittister (Orbis Books). An old friend with whom I traveled once to Nicaragua to do peace work sent this for us and our kids: it is a portfolio of modern-day icons of traditional saints and contemporary heroes who might qualify as saints.
MATCHLESS: A CHRISTMAS STORY (Morrow). This is my own book, my first effort at illustrating as well as writing a story, here fanned out in galley pages prepared to discuss with my editor tomorrow. It comes out in the fall.
MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN by Salman Rushdie (Random House). I have the privilege and the terror of interviewing Salman Rushdie at a conference in a couple of months, and I am boning up on his oeuvre. I haven't read this book yet. We have, I understand, a mutual fascination for The Wizard of Oz.
THE SELECTED WORKS OF T. S. SPIVET, a novel by Reif Larsen. (Penguin.) This book got a decent review in The Globe recently, but the story on the front-page concentrated on his $900,000 advance. Since he has done little scratchy drawings for his book, maybe I can go back to Morrow and retroactively up my own advance for MATCHLESS, mentioned above. After all, I did my own drawings, too.
JEFF IN VENICE, DEATH IN VARANASI, Geoff Dyer (Pantheon). A novel that received a glowing review in The Times – by Pico Iyer, was it? – I forget – the kind of review one hopes to get once in one's life. The cover photograph of candles centered in some sort of orange blossom and sent floating on a sacred Indian river is the kind of image that sells books. (We do, it seems, judge a book by its cover quite frequently. Or I do.)
A LITTLE BIT WICKED, Kristin Chenoweth (Touchstone). As Kristin Chenoweth is a distant sort of friend, what with the WICKED connection, I am glad to have her autobiography. It's signed to me as "my inspiration.” She's mine too, for various amendments to the life of Glinda in my two Oz books that to date have followed WICKED . Last week I met violinist Joshua Bell at a fundraiser for the Gardner Museum – he was playing and I was speaking, though not simultaneously – and in more social moments we realized we had Kristin in common, in that he dated her for several years. I hadn't known that. But he had her as a girlfriend, while I had her on stage. There's a difference.
THE INGENIOUS EDGAR JONES, Elizabeth Garner (Crown). I have pretty much sworn off blurbing books but I agreed to look at this one because Elizabeth's father, the noted English fantasist Alan Garner, is a friend. The book is dazzling, a tour-de-force – again with a brilliant cover of Oxford's dreaming spires lit in impossibly dazzling moonlight. Anyone whose love of Oxford was reignited in the early sections of Philip Pullman's THE GOLDEN COMPASS should rush to find THE INGENIOUS EDGAR JONES.
THE NAPOLEON OF NOTTING HILL, G. K. Chesterton (Capuchin Classics). This only because I haven't read enough Chesterton to have formed a decent opinion of him. A recent New Yorker piece about him reminded me of my duties. But the book is still a cipher to me, and it could be months or years before I crack it. It's a paperback; maybe I'll bring it on holiday this year.
FINDING OZ by Evan Schwartz (Houghton Mifflin). This is a book I read in galley, but I am happy to have a hardcover copy at last. Schwartz's persistence at uncovering an almost month-by-month iteration of L. Frank Baum's life and the various details that might have gone into his composition of Oz – its physical attributes as well as the moral meaning of the Oz fable, the Oz mythos – is a worthy addition to earlier biographies of Baum, and taught me much I didn't know.
Gregory Maguire is the author of numerous books including the runaway bestsellers, Wicked and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. His work as a consultant in creative writing for children has taken him to speaking engagements across the United States and abroad. He is a founder and co-director of Children's Literature New England, Incorporated, a non-profit educational charity established in 1987.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
John Hodgman and Tom Perrotta will be joining us on October 24th for a freewheeling conversation about the best path to a literary career. Is it teaching and writing (in Tom's case) or cheesemongering and impersonating a personal computer (in John's case)?
With two such acerbic and hilarious authors, we predict that this event will be unpredictable to say the least. John Hodgman is Resident Expert on The Daily Show with John Stewart, and the author of The Areas of My Expertise and More Information Than You Require (out in paperback this fall). Additionally, this Brookline native has unexpectedly become a famous television personality, appearing as the "PC" in a series of commercials for Apple brand computers.
Tom Perrotta is the author of six works of fiction including Election, Joe College, Little Children and The Abstinence Teacher. Both Election (1999) and Little Children (2006) have been made into acclaimed feature films. Perrotta lives outside of Boston with his family.
Tom and John join our long list of exciting Festival Authors, promising an unbelievable line-up on October 24th.The time and location for this event will be announced in the beginning of October. We at the BBF are very excited about this particular session and we hope to see you there!
Want to find out about newly confirmed authors, special ticketed events, and VIP access opportunities as they are announced? Click here to get Boston Book Festival email updates delivered right to your inbox.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Usually the way it happens is this: I am out and about somewhere, at a party or a meeting or a fundraiser such as the one I attended for First Literacy (great organization, check it out). I meet someone ; we do the hi-my—name-is-and-what-do-you-do dance that Americans love to do. I say: “I’m a writer.” He (it’s usually a he) says, “Oh. Published?” I say, “Yes, published.” He says, “Oh, what kind of books?” I say, “Novels, primarily. I’m a novelist.” He says, “Well, I don’t read fiction. Much.”
I say ….well, what? What am I to say to such a thing, I ask you? That’s not rhetorical; I’m really asking you, dear reader, because I must figure out an appropriate response to this statement. Because I hear it all the time.
Part of the problem, naturally, is the tone in which the statement is delivered. It’s the same tone in which people who Don’t Watch Much Television or Even Own One routinely announce as much, usually at any given opportunity. (By the way, if you never caught an episode of Girlfriends, or The Wire, or Rescue Me or even Two and a Half Men [oddly hilarious], then, trust me: your loss.) What these people are really saying is that they cannot be bothered to read fiction because fiction, by definition, is unimportant and trivial. What these people are saying is that they do not read fiction -- fiction of any kind – because, as one man said to me once, “I only read things that are true and can help me.”
What, exactly is wrong with the deeply misguided, lamentable, and ultimately soul-killing contemporary belief that only stories which are “real” are worthwhile?
The real answer, which is difficult to get into at cocktail parties when the wine is flowing and loud music fills the air, is that one should read fiction because fiction teaches us what it means to be human. It's as simple and as wonderful and as powerful as that.
Fictions explains us to ourselves, and helps us make sense of the world. Why else have humans told stories since the dawn of mankind? (The power of myth, anyone?)
Good fiction -- serious fiction -- tells the truth about the human condition, except that it doesn't really "tell" you so much as brings you along for the exhilarating, discovery-filled ride. Picasso said that art is the lie which tells the truth. That's fiction.
Moreover, fiction, unique among the arts, allows one to step inside the experience of another human being. Photography, films (funny how you never hear people say, "I don't watch movies. I only watch documentaries because documentaries are real."), theater, even art are all exterior -- we're on the outside looking in. We may have our own powerful experience in observing, we may judge or favor or sympathize or empathize with the character up on the stage or on the screen, but we do not enter their consciousness in the way the reader does with a great novel in her hand. Anyone who has ever looked up from the pages of a novel by Morrison or Walker or Marquez or Steinbeck or Ellison or Orwell or Greene or Lessing or Baldwin or insert-your-own-favorite-here and felt the world shifted, known themselves different in some small but tangible way, will know this is true.
Maybe what I should say the next time someone tells me he does not read fiction is: "Really? Well that's a shame. Because you should, you know. You really, really should."
Kim McLarin is the author of the critically-acclaimed novels Taming it Down, Meeting of the Waters and Jump at the Sun, all published by William Morrow. She is a former staff writer for The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Greensboro News & Record and the Associated Press. She is currently on leave from her position as a writer-in-residence at Emerson College in Boston to write a book on Liberia. She is also the new host of Basic Black, Boston's longest-running weekly television program devoted exclusively to African American themes, shown on WGBH.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Working on putting together the Boston Book Festival for over two years, caught up in the whirl of obtaining funding, signing authors, finding venues, getting the word out and doing the myriad of things that need doing, we have to remember to ask ourselves: what are we trying to achieve?
This question came to mind on Memorial Day weekend when I attended the Calabash Literary Festival in Jamaica with Nicholas and my older daughter, Lana. I wanted to see for myself the sensation that is Calabash. It felt a little like a pilgrimage, especially for Nicholas and Lana who flew from London to Kingston only to have a bumpy three-hour car ride ahead of them. Ooops. But we all agreed in the end that it was worth it; Calabash was amazing.
There is nothing else like Calabash and Calabash can’t happen anywhere else, not just because it’s in the Caribbean, but because it is of the Caribbean: its spirit, history, and pride. And one could sense from the grunts, knee slaps, outbursts of laughter and murmurs of one kind or another that the audience at Calabash had a palpable relationship with the literature and poetry being presented, whether during Robert Pinsky’s recitation or during the open mike sessions. Did I mention that the blue-green Carribean water was the backdrop and that the podium was a sort of Jamaican chuppah adorned on its four posts with colorful glazed ceramic? Talk about being transported.
What we want to achieve at the Boston Book Festival is to give audiences a chance to be inspired, moved, amused and wowed by the creative people in our midst. And perhaps even to be transformed, if only for a moment. I know it can happen. It happened at Calabash. If you doubt that this kind of transformation can occur when a writer gets in front of an audience, check out Chris Abani’s TED talk where he explains the meaning of Ubuntu—providing a mirror to one’s humanity. He begins with stories from Africa and ends with a poem by American poet Lucille Clifton. Utter magic.
We hope you are looking forward to seeing what kind of magic we can make at the Boston Book Festival. Only four more months!
Deborah Z Porter
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
People are wonderfully optimistic about their summer reading. Something about the longer days, and (eventual) sunshine seems to promise more time to sit back, crack open the pages of a new paperback, and dive into another world. Whether or not they¹re looking for something perfectly frothy whose pages they won't mind staining with suntan lotion, or a thick, meaty tome they've been waiting years to tackle, people take their summer reading seriously.
While Memorial Day weekend normally signals the start of summer, this June with its April-in-Seattle weather was something of a false start. So we're going to go ahead and count the Fourth of July as the official kick-off holiday of the season. The summer reading season, that is. Below are some of Newtonville Books’ favorite suggestions for books to get you started over this long holiday weekend.
“Here is the story of Henry and me. I wish it had a different end.” That’s how the book opens, but instead of offering a conventional narrative of a love affair, Kirshenbaum goes far deeper. The novel is filled with vivid flashbacks, memories, and asides as Sylvia and Henry share their histories and fall in love, exploring the idea of family and truth, and the power of storytelling.
Thomas' straight-to-paperback debut made quite a splash last year after it received an impressive front page review in the New York Times Book Review. The book takes place over a four day stretch of the narrator's life in New York City as he attempts to turn his life around; financially, personally, spiritually. The inner monologues of the narrator reveal a man frustrated with his past (let down by both family and friends), reactions to his race, alcoholism, and his inability to follow through on his ambitions and dreams. A fresh new voice in American literature.
The Fitzgeraldian narrator of Dahlie's novel is besieged by divorce, the dissolution of the family business, and a stolen heirloom, and wrestles with whether or not to 'show a little stick' in the face of his many trials. You can’t help rooting for this winsome, unique narrator to the very end. Dryly funny, this book is perfect to read on warm summer nights while you sip your own well-made gin and tonic.
Nixonland is political history at its best — colorful, bold, and immensely detailed without ever losing sight of its main narrative. Perlstein’s book captures all the ferment of the ’60s and early ’70s, from race riots to student radicals to the sinister Jowled One who translated simmering resentment into a political rebirth in the White House. Aside from opening a new window into American history, it goes a long way in explaining much of the conflict and fierce partisanship in contemporary politics.
The author of Eva Moves the Furniture returns with her best novel to date. Told in four brilliantly intertwined narratives, the book circles around the lives—and loves—of two young women, Abigail and Dara, who live in different apartments in the same London house. Livesey beautifully explores the inner-worlds of the main characters as they veer toward tragedy. I could not put this down.
Alice is a reserved elementary school librarian from a modest background when she meets Charlie at a party. The son of a prominent Republican family, Charlie is ambitious, boisterous, and utterly charming. Years later, when Charlie is elected President, Alice finds herself questioning her marriage to a man whose beliefs are so different from hers. Based loosely on the life of Laura Bush, American Wife is an excellent choice for this summer.
The expansive, green, sunny fields of a cricket match are a perfect setting for a summer vacation read, and O'Neill's beautiful, warm prose is wonderful to escape into. Dutch banker Hans, his Trinidadian Gatsby-esque friend Chuck, and the rest of their cricket team challenge the reader to imagine a different New York City, and possibly a different America, that is seldom seen.
Cornelia is a young lonely bookish girl living in the shadow of her mother, the famous pianist Lucy Englehart. She hides behind her large vocabulary and retreats into her room until the wonderfully mysterious and fascinating Virginia Somerset moves in next door.
Virginia introduces a small feisty bulldog into Cornelia's life and fills her once dreary and lonely days with stories of exotic lands from her own childhood "escapades" with her two sisters. This book is a must read, one of the best middle grade novels I've encountered. Superbly written, wonderfully entertaining and endearing Blume takes her readers on a journey around the world and within the imagination.
A Police Cover-Up Along Boston's Racial Divide. It is a riveting expose on police brutality on one of their own men in 1995. White Boston Police officers mistook Michael Cox, a black plainclothes officer. Following this incident was a blatant cover-up orchestrated by the BPD; in fact, news of Cox getting injured only appeared in The Boston Globe a full 10 days after the fact, and the information released was evasive and vague at best. Lehr shares an illuminating, fastidiously researched window into police loyalty and culture, the dynamics of race and politics, and the exceptionally long and hard journey to justice for one police officer. A fascinating read.
This list has been provided by the lovely people at Newtonville Books
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
THE FIVE GREATEST NOVELS EVER WRITTEN
1. Don Quixote--still the champ
2. Brothers Karamazov--be sure to read only the Constance Garnett translations for all Dostoyevsky
3. War and Peace--ladies may wish to substitute Anna Karenina; there will be no penalty, but War and Peace is the more capacious and grander book
4. Remembrance of Things Past--a more beautiful title in English than the more correct In Search of Lost Time
5. A three way tie between Middlemarch (the greatest novel that need not be translated), Ulysses (some translation needed), and Magic Mountain
Bonus: The two greatest novels since World War II not necessarily in order of merit:
Midnight's Children, far and away this author's best book
Life and Fate by Vassily Grossman, the only book on the list that requires me, alas, to list the author's name. It is out in an excellent paperback from NY Review Books. Put your finger on any page and you will learn more about life under a totalitarian state than all the history and political science tomes on Soviet Russia combined. A masterpiece.
A Rhodes Scholar, Leslie Epstein has published ten works of fiction, including King of the Jews, and contributed to many journals, magazines and newspapers. In February of 2007, his stage adaptation of King of the Jews was produced by the Huntington Theatre Company, and again at the Olney Theatre in Maryland. He has been the director of the Creative Writing Program at Boston University for over thirty years.