National Book Festival

Posted by barb on Oct 9, 2004 in Around DC, Books, Pictures |

Andrew and I went downtown for the National Book Festival organized by the Library of Congress.

Science Fiction & Fantasy pavillion

This event has been happening annually for the past three years (this is the fourth festival), and each year more authors and a greater variety of genres are added to the schedule. This is the first year that there has been a Science Fiction & Fantasy Pavilion, with eight featured authors. This might explain why this is the first year Andrew and I have gone.

We started the day by buying copies of Frederik Pohl’s newest book (not even available on Amazon last weekend), and then made our way to the Teens & Children Pavilion, where E. L. Konigsburg was giving a reading.

E.L. Konigsburg at the Book Festival

I remember reading Konigsburg’s Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth when I was in grade school, and I absolutely loved it! I re-read it last year before releasing another copy through Bookcrossing on Halloween. She read from her latest book, The Outcast of 19 Schuyler Place. From the two excerpts she read, I’m very much looking forward to reading it! She also relayed a touching account of having lost both her editor of thirty years and her husband of fouty-five years within a year of each other, both from pancreatic cancer. This is the first book that she’s published that neither of them saw the finished copy.

We left Konigsburg’s Q&A session a bit early to line up for her signing. That was an affair! She was scheduled to sign from 11 AM – Noon. We were in line at about 10:45 AM. My book was signed at about 12:10 PM. Andrew left a bit early to catch Frederik Pohl’s reading. (I was bummed to miss part of it, but I’d been in line so long, it was becoming a moral imperative to get my book signed.)

I missed out on Pohl’s reading, but Andrew said that it was a bit stilted. However, I did make it for most of his Q&A session, which was quite good. At 84 he’s a lively guest, if not entirely optimistic about the future of the human race.

Next, Neil Gaiman read from a work-in-progress, Anansi Boys. I don’t know if I’m a Gaiman fan or not, but Andrew is, so we stayed for the reading. The only thing I’ve read by Gaiman was Good Omens, written with Terry Pratchett. I hated, hated, hated that book, but it’s hard to know if it was because of either of the authors or if I just didn’t like the way they worked together. I’ve since read more of Pratchett and have enjoyed some of it. But, Gaiman’s reading was quite fun, and Anansi Boys is comedic, at least the portions he read (not his normal style, according to Andrew), and sounded like something I might want to read. We’ll see.

Fredrik Pohl signing my books

I left while Gaiman was reading a second excerpt so that I could line up for Frederik Pohl’s signing. This line went faster than Konigsburg’s line, though I’m not sure why — perhaps there was less chit-chat, and there certainly seemed to be fewer people slowing down the line with pictures. I had Andrew snap one while Pohl was signing my books.


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