Friday Morning Bookclub

May 22, 2013

4th Annual Gaithersburg Book Festival, May 18, 2013: A Review By Ann

Filed under: Book Festivals — susanbright @ 10:27 pm


Pretty unbelievable but I won. I won an IPAD! I found out two days after the festival. And, I was already going to tell everyone how great this festival is anyway. Susan and I had attended last year with Dana who also won an IPAD (Obviously every bookclub member should go to the festival with Susan!!!) and while the weather wasn’t as great this year, the authors and the format for talking about the books was just as engrossing.  I found the caliber and the breath of author presentations more enriching than the Baltimore Book Festival too … but hopefully that one will grow.

The format of the sessions I attended was author interviewing author.  The process of creating the narrative, the discipline of writing, and how characters are developed was as much of each authors story as the actual book they were discussing.  Briefly, here are the some of the authors and books that they were talking about – most had published multiple books.

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The author Vaddey Ratner, who wrote IN THE SHADOW OF THE BANYAN: A NOVEL  was definitely the most contemplative and poetic. She was five years old when the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia’s came to power in 1975. It is a fictionalized work that parrallels her personal tale of survival. I have not read her book but I was struck by her grace and eloquence. You could feel her emotion and desire to memorialize the loved ones she lost and document the atrocities, while writing a story that is filled to an even larger extent with opportunism and beauty

Jami Attenburg was just a hoot. … fast-talking, honest to the point of bluntness. I thought THE MIDDLESTEINS a beautifully written book, very wry and sharply funny. It peels back the layers of one family’s struggle to hold together even as its members fall apart. Each family member gets their own voice. The author interviewing Jami said something about the book along these line that really resonated with me: Sometimes all Jami needs to capture a soul is a couple of sentences. It’s true.

Therese Anne Fowler’s book, Z: A NOVEL OF ZELDA FITZGERALD, sounded really really great and well researched, which impresses me in fictionalized historical novels. According to the program, it is named “one of the most anticipated books of 2013.”

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Susan asked Caroline Leavitt of the The New York Times best-seller, PICTURES OF YOU, if she would come to our bookclub to discuss her new book Is It Tomorrow and she said yes! Frances De Pontes Peebles, author of The Seamstress told Susan she would Skype with us. Both of these books sound amazing!

A book of parallel historical and contemporary fiction that I think we might like for bookclub is, THE HOUSE GIRL, by Tara Conklin. See what you think.

I have not done the day justice but I do hope you can join us at the 5th Annual Gaitherburg Festival. Who knows … in addition to a fantastic day, you might win an IPAD!

May 30, 2012

A Day At The Gaithersburg Book Festival By Ann

Filed under: Literary Tidbits,Uncategorized — susanbright @ 9:34 am

Despite turning green at lunch (the salad and quesadillas were delicious –- I just wanted to win an Ipad too!), the day at the Gaithersburg Book Festival was just wonderful. I’m sure the balmy weather helped as it made being outside walking around, people watching, and talking to other book lovers idyllic. The Book Festival was bigger than I expected, but it was not too crowded. We could choose from nine different authors from an array of genres who spoke at different pavilions set up on the lawn of the county seat from 10 am to 4:40 pm.

We attended the presentation from Jim Lehrer of PBS News Hour fame, who spoke about his experiences covering eight presidents for about 30 minutes. Afterwards, I was able to purchase my father-in-law “Jim’s” new book on presidential debates in a tent sponsored by Politics and Prose (small active independent book store in DC) and stood in line less than five minutes to have  “Jim” sign it. I thought this was really cool and a well-thought out process for both the attendees and the authors. Everybody wins! And I have a gift for my impossible-to-buy-anything-for father-in-law, that I think he will actually appreciate and like as a PBS News Hour fan.

Other presentations we attended usually included the authors reading from their last book. We listened to Tom McNeal (To Be Sung Underwater), David Linden (The Pleasure Compass) and Madeline Miller (The Song of Achilles), which we now plan to schedule for Bookclub.

There were tons of kids activities, music at the “coffee house” (pavilion), and, of course, you could win free prizes(!) All in all a great day and I hope to go next year.

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