Brooklyn Book Festival 2012

This past Sunday, the Brooklyn Book Festival was great; great weather and great turnout.  A little recap:

I had a late start, arriving far later than I had intended (I’m not a morning person and life, of course, had some disruption). I bought a book of collected Poetry in Motion poems in postcards from the Poetry Society of America table.  Such a nice find!

I collected a bunch of brochures on organizations and sampled a couple of panels.  Sometimes I wonder about the wisdom of getting all that stuff, but then again, I get to learn about publishers and not-for-profits that I might one day want to support (say, if I were to win the lottery).

The panels I checked out included the following:

“Fright Write” panel, moderated by Sarah Weinman (on tumblr, “Off on a Tangent,” and previously of “Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind“), with panelists J.R. Angelella (author of Zombie), Victor LaValle (The Devil in Silver), and Chase Novak (Breed). This was a fascinating discussion on suspense and the modern take on monsters – and what the monsters say more about our society.  I had especially wanted to check out this panel since (in no particular order) (a) it was hosted at my Alma Mater Law School, (b) I’ve noticed the publicity for Breed in the newspapers (like Janet Maslin’s book review in the NY Times, and Novak’s really Scott Spencer,  with NPR coverage!) and in the subway, and (c) I’ve also noticed the publicity for Lavalle, who’s in the middle of the bookstores circuit.  I’m not into the horror/suspense genre, but afterward, I was tempted to add these guys to my perpetually long to-read list.

I also caught a little bit of “The Center for Fiction Presents Beyond Earth,” wherein Naomi Novik (Temeraire series), N.K. Jemisin (the Inheritance trilogy), and Rick Bowes (From the Files of the Time Rangers) read brief selections from their works and discussed the art of world-building in fantasy writing and beyond; moderated by Noreen Tomassi, The Center for Fiction.  I’m not into fantasy/alternate worlds stuff, but figured I’d check it out since I couldn’t get to check out “The Fragility of Electability: Campaigns, Character, and Messing with Texas,” at Borough Hall, where one could have seen the amazing Ta-Nehisi Coates moderating a discussion with Gail Collins, Jodi Kantor, and John MacArthur (Borough Hall was packed for the attendees for this one and basically “sold out”; oh well; Jodi Kantor’s book The Obamas is still on my to-read list). 

I didn’t get to stay long for the fantasy readings though, as I wanted to meet up with friends and thus I joined my friends FC and P for the “Eats Empire” panel, which had Lowell Hawthorne (his book, The Baker’s Son), the father of Golden Krust, and food historian Robin Schulman (her book, Eat the City) discussing the impact of food on the local economy and urban revitalization; moderated by Carlo Scissura, CEO of Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce

This panel was quite good.  Food inspires a lot of thought, so to speak, since the inequity in food access and the difficulties of food businesses are such topical stuff lately.  Questions like: how does a company like Golden Krust go from bringing a taste of Jamaica as a niche and to the mainstream; what does a family business do when the next generation does or doesn’t want to take over; what about the changing demographics in the community? And, what about the whole Whole Foods versus local supermarkets dilemma – less supermarkets means less service or options (as seen in Brooklyn with the recent closings of Key Food and Met Food – links to the Daily News’ reports of such) – and then what? 

Actually, now I’m beginning to wonder if Schulman’s book is going to be on my to read list (then again, I never got around to reading Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, since I couldn’t be sure how much I could stomach – yes, pun intended). 

I sadly missed the panel/readings with the Poets Laureate (Tina Chang, Brooklyn Poet Laureate; Billy Collins, US Poet Laureate 2001-2003; Philip Levine, US Poet Laureate 2011-2012; and Ishmael Islam, NYC Youth Poet Laureate), and Tony Danza appearance, not to mention the appearances of Pete Hamill and Edwidge Danticat.

Anyway, bottom line is that it was a great Brooklyn Book Festival. A whole load of stuff and a great sense of community support. 

And, up this coming Sunday is the Atlantic Antic, the biggest street festival.  Brooklyn’s the place to be!

(cross-posted over at

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