The second full day of the AWP Conference was busy. The first panel I went to was "Writing the Mind's Wild Geography" moderated by Hannah Fries of Orion Magazine. The speakers all addressed how a sense of place can be both physical and metaphysical. I was especially drawn to Ann Pancake's comment that in a novel one can explore the impact of place on the interior of our characters in a way that non-fiction cannot. (Although in a panel I attended later on writing other people's stories it was argued that creative non-fiction can also do this.)
I then went to a panel on "The Future of the Book" in which Mary Gannon of Poets & Writers, Dennis Johnson of Melville House, Lee Montgomery of Tin House, and agent Julie Barer talked about changes that have occurred in publishing. No one had anything nice to say about Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
I spent a lot of time on Friday at the Bookfair, including a stint at the Press 53 table signing my book. I also wandered the aisles handing out our postcard announcement of I also wandered the aisles handing out our postcard announcement of Prime Number Magazine.
Soon it was time to head down to the Post Road party at a bar on the 16th Street pedestrian mall, which I had to leave early to go to the Queens MFA party a block away. When that broke up I headed over to the Sewanee Writers' Conference party in the hotel. It was great to see old friends at all three events.
Lots of folks then went to the George Saunders reading, but I wanted to support some friends who were reading at the Denver Press Club in a benefit for WILLA: Women in Letters and Literary Arts. I'm not sure I really support the aims of the organization -- the days of women being excluded from the book industry are gone, in my view, despite the controversy over the Publishers Weekly male-dominated top-ten list for 2009 -- and I thought the burlesque entertainment between readers was inappropriate ("you missed the point," I'm sure someone will say, as if there could be a feminist point to women stripping down to g-strings and pasties). The readers (so many that they only got 3 minutes each) seemed to be having fun, though, and the room was crowded.