Brooklyn Book Festival 2014

I had a good time at this year’s Brooklyn Book Festival today.  Great turnout. Of course I bought books; some good deals from the DC Comics table and the Akashic Books table.

I managed to make it to the panel on “Segregation, Class, Race, and the NYC Public Schools,” with panelists Dana Goldstein (The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession), Pedro Noguera (Schooling for Resilience: Improving the Life Trajectories of African American and Latino Males) and David Banks (Soar: How Boys Learn, Succeed, and Develop Character), and moderated by Leah Brunski, a teacher of PS 29.  Really fascinating – and powerful.  It was a packed room in the Moot Courtroom of Brooklyn Law School (a.k.a. Alma Mater law school), hosting the event.

I liked how the panelists got down to the nitty-gritty of the issues. I think we keep focusing on so-called “accountability” without really taking management (i.e., supervisors, the politicians, etc.) into account; we forget that teachers are humans; we forget that New York City is de facto segregated on so many levels; and we really forget that this is a complicated situation with no singular answer (but some of us want a nice, quick answer or something to placate the masses). The panel reminded me that these issues in public school education in New York City are applicable to how we address so many other issues (public housing, social welfare and social justice; and in public service – where we public servants toil and get held accountable without really getting the full accounting).  I’ll get off my soapbox now.

I caught a little bit of the “Comedians as Authors,” where comedians Bog Saget and John Leguizamo were. That was a crowded bunch, standing room at the front of Borough Hall.

I unfortunately missed seeing James McBride, Jules Feiffer, and Jonathan Lethem. I also caught the tail ends of two panels:

–> “Face Your Fears or Else,” which had Lev Grossman (Magicians Trilogy: The Magician’s Land), Jeff VanderMeer (The Southern Reach Trilogy: Acceptance) and debut novelist Deji Olukotun (Nigerians in Space), moderated by Noreen Tomassi, Center for Fiction.  I admit that I’m one of those who know Grossman’s work in Time magazine; his Magician books are still on my to-read list.  The panel’s Q&A reminded me of how hard world-building is.

–> Welcome to Fantasy Island – Scott Westerfeld (Afterworlds), debut novelist C. J. Farley (Game World), and Cara Lynn Shultz (The Dark World), moderated by literary agent and author Seth Fishman, over at the Youth Pavilion – their Q&A was another reminder about the difficulty in writing fantasy.

In a way, I’m reminded if I’m really going to take another stab at writing a fantasy-type story, or if I’ll try something else in November… and that my reading list is expanded as usual.  Writing and reading. Reading and writing…

Well, great stuff at the Brooklyn Book Festival as usual!

(cross-posted over at

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