Another year, another LA Times Festival of Books. I’m feeling somewhat melancholy in the wake of it. It’s hard to come back to the desk after such a wonderfully stimulating series of social interactions, literary or otherwise.
Usually I get excited to meet one writer or another, someone whose work I’ve always admired but I’ve never had the chance to meet, someone who is a friend of a friend whom I’ve never met in person, etc. Those moments tend to stick in the mind as the most emotional or meaningful after the tents come down.
This year’s emotional high point came from an unexpected place, though not one entirely surprising to anyone who’s been paying attention to world 2.0, where the content comes from YOU.
The "What Are You Reading" Wall
The LA Times set up a giant wall where attendees could simply write what they were reading right now. I don’t know if the image translates via computer, but in person in was quite overwhelming. I was struck dumb by this collection of titles and authors in a bunch of different handwritings. Turns out this wasn’t a festival only for people who didn’t know how to fucking walk. It was also a gathering of people for whom reading is really, really important. People like me. (And people who write “The Bible” with a happy face, and “The Koran,” and ATLAS SHRUGGED in block letters above everything else.)
For those who wonder whether they’ve seen that pic before: I tweeted it, Richard Nash RT’ed it, and others spread it around Twitter, attributed to @R_Nash.
Now an anecdote. I was unable to attend the festival on Saturday because of kid stuff, so I was there bright and early on Sunday to check in for my 10:30 am panel. (Fiction: Breaking Point, with articulate and intelligent mofos John Wray, Hari Kunzru, and John Haskell. Moderated by articulate and intelligent mofo David Ulin.) Anyhow, when I went to check in, they didn’t have my laminate. I had to settle for a blue wristband while things got sorted out.
Eventually, I got a replacement:
The Replacement Laminate
Which came with a story. Apparently, sometime Saturday, someone had checked in as me. Someone had walked around wearing an author tag with my name on it. They had cruised the green room, eaten food, maybe even talked to other writers.
Did anyone meet “me” on Saturday?
Worst of all, the interloping doppelganging Antoine Wilson claimed my FoB mug!
Looks like they tried for Antoine
That’s his (her?) signature above. Anyone have any leads?
(The kind people of the FoB gave me another mug.)
Speaking of the kind people, I don’t even know how to begin thanking everyone who was involved with the FoB. It is by far the best literary event I’ve ever attended. Best as in best organized, best attended, best at not leaving authors in the lurch, and so on. It was a pleasure seeing everyone, too, and the Granta Party Saturday night was a blast.
Finally, I propose that John Wray is the Dane Reynolds of fiction. Or Dane is the John Wray of surfing.
The Dane Reynolds of Fiction, with John Haskell
The John Wray of Surfing
Am I the only one who knows what I’m talking about here?
Both are young, sick talents, and smarter than they look.