It never rains in Southern California, but when it does Angelenos celebrate the written word at the annual LA Times Festival of Books.
“I have been at the festival for every hour, every year since it started in 1996,” said Don Cannon, a 69-year-old mechanical engineer from North Hollywood. “I come here because you can have an interesting conversation with every person you meet, and that’s because people who read books are different.”
Hosted on the campus of the University of Southern California, the event is in it’s 21st year, drawing thousands to the South LA campus for a weekend of art, music and literature. Yes, we do read in LA and anyone who is skeptical of the future of the book should find time on their calendar to experience this annual celebration.
What can be more mesmerizing than hearing an author read from his/her own work?
Yesterday I attended the panel, ‘Fiction:History on the Page’, moderated by Janet Fitch. Authors Alexander Chee, Laila Lalami and Steward O’Nan read the opening lines from their novels and shared thoughts on the writing process: choosing their subject, avoiding ‘research rapture’, and crafting an ending. Mr. Chee wrote the final fifteen pages of his novel first. His editor suggested a backstory that translated into the creative heft of his amazing new novel, ‘Queen of the Night’.
The Festival reflects the demographics of the local neighborhood and the current events transforming this year’s political landscape. CSPAN is there with live broadcasts of non-fiction panels. Political operatives share the stage with experts and intellectuals interpreting the tea leaves of the current presidential campaigns.
If you are in LA this weekend, and draw inspiration from conversations with with every person you meet, or have a voice in your head that demands release in writing, the LAT FOB is your best choice for a Sunday adventure.