Kim’s Advice for Attending Book Festivals:
1. Stay Riveted for the Great Panels: I started at the Biography 20th Century Lives panel with the authors Cari Beauchamp (Joseph P. Kennedy Presents: His Hollywood Years), Kirstin Downey (The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins) and Linda Gordon (Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits and the winner last Friday of the LA Times Festival of Books Prize for Biography). It was fascinating. I didn’t know about Joseph Kennedy’s influence in Hollywood, had never heard of Frances Perkins and now she may be my hero, and Dorothea Lange is so much more than those haunting pictures of Dust Bowl farmers. There is so much to share about this panel that my next post, creatively titled Los Angeles Times Festival of Books – Part 2, will be dedicated to it.
2. Don’t be a Miser: If there is a panel that you really want to go to and there is even a slight chance that you could go, buy the ticket. Because really, it’s only a dollar. More than anything else, I wanted to hear Dave Eggers. But, I wasn’t sure of my schedule this weekend and when I finally realized I could spend all Saturday afternoon at the Festival, right when Dave would be there, the tickets were sold out. I was nervous about the standby line for this event, and rightly so, when I walked up it was over 50 people long. I did make it to the front of the line, but that’s only because everyone, I mean everyone, even the event staff, left because there were no more seats.
3. Talk to the People Working in the Booths: I stopped by the Chin Music Press booth and asked about their latest books. Chin Music publishes two types of books: translated contemporary Japanese literature and books that deal with broader issues in America (this division of Chin Music started publishing books about New Orleans after the hurricane but has expanded).
I purchased the book Chin Music is currently promoting, Home, Away by Jeff Gillenkirk. It’s about a major league pitcher who gives up his career to care for his son. The opening line of the blurb is “how much is a father’s love worth?” I knew immediately that it is the perfect Father’s Day gift for my baseball loving husband (my kids should thank me for giving them a leg up on the holiday). I asked the author about his favorite baseball team and he said he cheers for his local team wherever he lives, and that right now he’s in the Bay Area so it’s the Giants. I wondered if he knew those were fighting words in LA. He noted the only exception was when he lived in New York, he wouldn’t support the Yankees. That convinced me, Gillenkirk is an author you can trust with baseball.
And why the name Chin Music? Well, I learned a couple of new crossword-handy facts, Mark Twain used the term to describe chatter, then in the ’20s it meant gossip, and in baseball it is a pitch that comes just under the hitter’s chin generally used as a warning from the pitcher.
4. Enjoy the Fun Festival Frolics: I saw literary clothing for every age and stage of life from onesies with quotes from Dante (I was tempted to take a picture and post it under “pretentious”) to a variety of cases for reading glasses. There is more literary inspired clothing than I thought possible. I saw Noah Webster signing dictionaries along with a troupe of lively assistants leading cheers for vowels and creating quite the scene, but then if you’ve been dead for centuries you deserve to start a ruckus. I’m still wondering why and how Minute Rice got a booth and why there weren’t any samples. Now, the coffee booths, that I understand, who doesn’t read and drink coffee, but rice? My favorite sight was the man walking around the Festival in a large box with the words “Penis Power” written on the front and back, so many jokes flashed through my head that I had a mental pile up.
5. Take a Nap During the Dull Panels: I ended my planned activities with the History Through Fiction’s Lens and it didn’t quite live up to my anticipation. But, it was a seat and my feet hurt, so I just quietly snoozed and awoke restored to browse the booths. But, should you try this, don’t snore.
Did you attend the Festival? If so, let me know about your favorite moments or if you have any advice for attendees.