VA Book festival, March 20-24,
will open minds as well as books
By Anne Bromley
year a man came to the Virginia
Festival of the Book all the way from Montana, because he
wanted to see what a mature festival was like before
his state organized its own.
does mature really mean? festival program director
Nancy Damon wondered in the days leading up to the eighth annual
event March 20 through 24. The term struck an odd chord with Damon,
because even though she has worked on organizing the book festival
for all eight years this is her second as program director
there are always new books and authors to showcase. There
are always more people, especially the young, to bring into the
light of learning that shines from the pages of books. The discoveries
inherent in reading lie at the heart of the festivals purpose.
year, authors will share their experience and knowledge through
non-fiction from Washington Post Book World editor Marie
Aranas American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood,
to NPR host Neal Conans Play by Play: Baseball, Radio
And Life in the Last Chance League. In fiction, the power
and extent of imagination come through the work of award-winning
writers, such as Mary Lee Settle, author of I, Roger Williams,
who will be part of a panel on writing about historical figures,
and poet Rita Dove, who will give a staged reading of her play,
The Darker Face of the Earth, a retelling of the Oedipus
myth against the backdrop of slavery.
try to have programs that will reach the widest range of the community,
said Damon. What began as a way to present the humanities to Virginia
citizens the primary mission of the Virginia Foundation
for the Humanities, the organization that produces the festival
has expanded to include the global community.
Brinton graduate student in religious studies
Chaussee lecturer of Hindi and Urdu
Culbertson director of the Center for Violence and
Survival at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities
Cushman English professor and poet
Dove poet, professor of English
Gaesser associate professor of exercise physiology,
Curry School of Education
M. Lawrence doctoral student in environmental sciences
Mayes (retired professor of rhetoric and communication)
Lee Miller (retired professor of history)
Morrish professor of architecture
ONeil law professor and director of the Thomas
Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression
Orr poet, professor of English
David Seaman director of the Electronic Text Center
Seefeldt doctoral student in history
Trinh Xuan Thuan professor of astronomy
ChristopherTilghman fiction writer, professor of
Wagner anthropology professor
the full schedule, see the March 17 Sunday Daily Progress
insert or go to the Web site at www.vabook.org
members came from 31 states and six countries last year, Damon
allows people to understand the world better, people and places
that are different from you, she added.
than a dozen authors, including U.Va. alumnus David Baldacci,
will be visiting schools, as well as giving readings and signing
books, which Damon says expands youngsters perspectives.
authors talk to children, they see that people write about all
kinds of things, all kinds of people, she said.
in this years nearly 200 events cover a wide variety of
Arana, the guest speaker for the annual festival luncheon March
20 at the Omni Hotel, Elizabeth Peters, well-known for her Amelia
Peabody mysteries, will speak at a March 23 luncheon at Metropolitain
restaurant as part of a day-long focus on mystery writers and
their work. These two events are among the few that have a fee
attached and require reservations; most events are free.
the 20 some authors featured in the mystery writers program will
be Victorian mystery writer Anne Perry and up-and-coming writer
George Pelecanos, whose books are set in Washington, D.C.
festival highlights include: StoryFest at the downtown Jefferson-Madison
Regional Library, featuring storyteller Jim Weiss; a conference
on electronic publishing; and the Carrs Hill reception March
23, hosted by Settle and Homer Hickam, whose memoir, Rocket
Boys, was made into the movie, October Sky.
who also writes novels, will read with Southern writers Jill McCorkle
and Lewis Nordan that night.
challenges of science will also be explored with Australian anthropologist
Tim Flannery, author of The Future Eaters and The Eternal
Frontier, Michael Pollan on The Botany of Desire, and
Charlottesville resident Jennifer Ackerman, whose latest book
is Chance in the House of Fate. Three events will take
on the Lewis & Clark bicentennial. Jane Henley, president
of the National Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, will
discuss the commemoration that begins next year; former mayor
Kay Slaughter will discuss plans for the Lewis and Clark Exploratory
Center of Virginia; and photographer Sam Abell will give a slide
show from his work retracing the explorers voyage.
at economic challenges will be Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel
and Dimed: Or (Not) Getting By in America, and Ben Cheever,
who wrote Selling Ben Cheever, about trying to make a living
working entry-level or service-type jobs. Writer Daniel H. Pink,
the keynote speaker for the March 19 second annual business breakfast,
will talk about his book, Free Agent Nation: How Americas
New Independent Workers Are Transforming the Way We Live.
festival committees, one for adults and one for younger folks,
began meeting last July to plan this years program, culling
ideas from people whove been to the festival, heard something
about it or seen the Web site. Publicists and authors send letters
and books; local residents and U.Va. faculty also make suggestions.
sponsored with other U.Va. programs:
Michael Gelb, whose book, How to Think Like Leonardo
Da Vinci, Darden students voted most influential book last
year. As a fellow of the Darden Schools Batten Institute,
which focuses on entrepreneurship and leadership, Gelb will give
several presentations and work with Darden faculty and students.
His March 21 talk, free and open to book festival-goers, will
touch upon his recent book, Discover Your Genius: How to Think
Like Historys Ten Most Revolutionary Minds.
Dorothy Allison, whose debut novel, Bastard out of Carolina,
was a finalist for the 1992 National Book Award, will read March
20. Her visit is co-sponsored with the Womens Center, the
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center and UVA
The Womens Center and the book festival are hosting
a reception March 21 to celebrate women writers. Call 982-2259
to reserve a space.
Cynthia Peters, author of From Carnival to Canon,
reflects on the richness of deaf-American culture March 20 as
part of the ASL/Deaf Culture Lecture Series.