Friday, March 20, 2009

I managed to get to two panels today and enjoyed both very much.

First was "Searching for Our Roots: Memoirs" featuring Randall Kenan, whose The Fire This Time is part memoir and part response to James Baldwin. (I know Randall from Bread Loaf and Sewanee and it was good to catch up with him, briefly); Ariel Sabar, whose My Father's Paradise just won the NBCC Award for Memoir; Martha Frankel, whose Hats & Eyeglasses is about gambling addiction; and Lise Funderburg, whose Pig Candy is an account of getting to know her father. All four panelists were engaging and funny, and there were some good questions from the moderator and the audience.

Then I changed venues in order to see the "Book Review Superstars" panel featuring Michael Dirda, Alan Cheuse, Louis Bayard, and Bethanne Kelly Patrick. It was a lively discussion moderated by Ron Hogan, and I truly enjoyed listening to all of them. The news is no surprise: for a variety of reasons, newspapers are cutting back the space available for book reviews, and so reviewers are looking for alternative media. Writers, likewise, are struggling to get reviewed, and they two are looking for attention in a variety of spaces.

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