Monday, October 30, 2006

Texas Book Festival, October 2006, morning session

The book festival was huge, crowded, and immensely interesting. The popular speakers, such as Barak Obama, Maureen Dowd, and Frank McCourt had to turn fans away.

I concentrated on creative non-fiction panels and was energized by the fabulous discussions.

Saturday morning, I attended the “Literary Non-fiction” session to hear words of wisdom from Robert Boynton, Melissa Fay Greene, and Lee Gutkind (the father of the creative non-fiction concept). The topics included:

* How does an author keep from getting emotionally involved in the story they are reporting? Or is it sometimes necessary?

* When do you write yourself into the narrative?

* How do you make sure you are accurately representing what the subject means?

And, of course, we got to hear about each author’s newest book (and some older ones, also).
Melissa Fay Greene was a fabulous storyteller, and I am very interested in reading her books:

  • There is No Me Without You, about an Ethiopian woman who cares for AIDS orphans
  • Praying for Sheetrock, about race relations in Georgia in the 1970s
  • The Temple Bombing, about Jews in the South in the 1950s


Lee Gutkind also immerses himself in the situation he writes about. The two books of his that I am most interested in are:

  • Stuck in Time, about mentally ill teens
  • Many Sleepless Nights, about the organ donor process


Robert Boynton is a journalist and editor and has a new book titled New New Journalism about how non-fiction writers have changed the concept of journalism.

Greene mentioned a book in passing that sounds very interesting: The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad. This Norwegian author lived with an Afghan bookseller’s family in 2002 and paints a portrait of middle-class Afghan life under Islamic fundamentalism.

This was a very satisfying and motivating session!

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