Yesterday was the Brooklyn Book Festival, which is a massive gathering of literary folk in Brooklyn Heights. It’s sort of like a mini-BEA, or like a literary state fair. This is my third year going to the BBF, and like last year, there were lessons to be learned:
1) I am even older this year. Like last year (see link above), there was a party to attend in Brooklyn the night before the BBF, but unlike last year, I opted for a quiet night in instead. Likewise, I ended up leaving the festival earlier than planned because I was too tired to go on. I hope both of these decisions are just signs of an oncoming cold instead of the alternative – being spent by 3:00 at the age of twenty-six.
2) Book nerds are like happier postal workers. Rain and wind are no match for them. The weather at the BBF this year was pretty dreadful, but hoards of people still gathered at Borough Hall, ready for literary fun.
3) Children do not grow up any faster in NYC, except when they do. In a YA panel called “Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made Of” (!), three YA authors discussed setting their stories in NYC. Rebecca Stead (When You Reach Me) grew up in New York, and assured a Q&Aer that kids in New York don’t grow up any faster than those in the suburbs. This completely contradicted a point she made earlier, which was that one of the things she loved most about growing up in a city was that it forced kids to mature earlier. Despite the conflicting messages, I know what she means. Certain sensibilities, such as being cautious and aware of your surroundings, are slightly more beyond-your-years than children who know all of their neighbors by first and last name. However, the nature of being a child – unsure, trusting, ideological – remains intact. The city doesn’t take that away from them.
4) Air Supply is terrible. As Steve Almond pointed out in a “It’s Only Rock n Roll (but I like it)” panel, a true music snob is able to completely de-lust himself or herself after discovering the object of their affection listens to, say, Air Supply, un-ironically. I feel the same about others’ literary tastes. Also on this panel were Jennifer Egan and Colson Whitehead, both of whom I enjoyed tremendously.
5) I didn’t hear or see the word “Franzen” once. OK, this isn’t so much a lesson as it is something I found reassuring. My love of Freedom and appreciation of Franzen aside, it was nice to know that literary people are able to talk about something else. Then again, I did leave early.
6) “No Sleep Til” refers to Astoria (Queens), not Brooklyn. The Beastie Boys must have never slept.
Sadly, I did not get to see two panels I had been looking forward to. One featured Ben Percy, whom you should all be reading. He’s like a Gen-X version of Cormac McCarthy and his new novel (The Wilding) is just as amazing as his short stories. (And I’m not just saying that because he’s a CB author.) The other panel was a humor discussion that involved John Hodgman. “Discussing” humor, in general, is not funny, but anything involving John Hodgman usually is.
Lastly, my client Feliza-Rose David is awesome and so is her blog, which is where I found this jem of a Ke$ha parody called Writer’s Blok by author Jackson Pearce over the weekend. Enjoy, writer-friends!