Bookmark March 16 through 20
11th Book Festival offers readings, premieres, music and more
|Armchair detectives and legal eagles can hear U.Va. alumni Linda Fairstien (above) and David Baldacci discuss writing and suspense on March 18 at 8 p.m. in Culbreth Theatre.
By Anne Bromley
Whether readers prefer the suspense of a mystery novel or the beauty of poetry, there are thrilling events for all booklovers — newcomers and old hands — at the upcoming Virginia Festival of the Book.
The event, in its 11th year, will feature readings, panels and discussions with authors, illustrators and publishing professionals. The five-day festival of mostly free, public literary events, which kicks off on March 16 at noon, will honor book culture and promote reading and literacy.
This year’s events feature new collaborations with music and film among the standard favorites, such as the “Crime Wave” theme for several discussions with mystery authors and devotees, Publishing Day and Vendors Fair, and programs for teachers and families, with about 80 authors visiting local schools that week.
U.Va. English professor Mark Edmundson will give the book festival opening remarks on the reasons for reading and how the activity can be life-changing, which is the subject of his latest book, “Why Read?” At the ceremony, which begins at the Jefferson-Madison central library, adult learners who have recently mastered reading will join Edmundson to share their testimonials.
For armchair detectives and legal eagles, even if you miss the crime wave luncheon (which is sold out), you can still hear U.Va. law alumni David Baldacci, whose most recent thriller is “Hour Game,” and Linda Fairstein, whose new book “Entombed” is rumored to include Edgar Allan Poe, discuss the craft of writing suspense on March 18 at 8 p.m. in Culbreth Theatre.
The crime series continues on March 19, a day of free mystery and suspense events with writers at the Omni Charlottesville Hotel. Among the featured authors are Rhys Bowen, creator of Molly Murphy and Constable Evans and author of “For the Love of Mike,” and Stephen White, whose latest installment in the series “Missing Persons” hits stores next month, plus dozens more.
For poetry lovers and the politically attuned, the East Coast premiere of the documentary “Voices of Wartime” will be screened on March 16 at 8 p.m., at Vinegar Hill Theater, accompanied by panel discussions with U.Va. poet Gregory Orr, visiting poets Marie Howe and Ilya Kaminsky, and Roberta Culbertson, director of the Institute for Violence and Survival at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.
Also part of the festival is a Walt Whitman celebration co-sponsored with the Virginia Quarterly Review. Special guest and award-winning poet Robert Creeley will be part of a 2 p.m. discussion in the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature and Culture. Creeley also will give a reading that night at 8 p.m. in the U.Va. Bookstore.
Music lovers can enjoy renowned cellist Steven Isserlis in the informal setting of signing his children’s book, “Why Beethoven Threw the Stew: And Lots More Stories About the Lives of Great Composers,” on March 16 at 6 p.m. at the New Dominion Bookshop, and then hear him perform with the Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival that night at the Paramount Theater. Traditional music enthusiasts can hear Kevin Donleavy talk about his book “Strings of Life: Conversations with Old-Time Musicians in Virginia and North Carolina” at 4 p.m. on March 16 at the Prism Coffeehouse.
These samples just scratch the surface of a slate that includes almost 200 events. U.Va. faculty, staff, alumni and students feature prominently in readings and discussions throughout the week. Sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the book festival has a comprehensive Web site at www.vabook.org, listing each day’s schedule and highlighting authors and activities.
Best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell to talk about quick thinking on March 16
Best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell (left) wants to talk about what happens in the blink of an eye. His new book, “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking,” illuminates an aspect of our mental lives that we utterly rely on yet rarely analyze — our ability to make snap decisions or quick judgments — in the blink of an eye.
Although the festival’s business breakfast with Gladwell is sold out, he will be giving a public talk on March 16 at 6 p.m. at U.Va.’s Darden Center Auditorium on the North Grounds.
A master at bridging the gap between everyday experience and cutting-edge science, Gladwell maps both positive and dark sides of the “blink,” demonstrating that unconscious knowledge is not the proverbial light bulb but a flickering candle.
Gladwell’s work includes “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” and “Unleashing the Ideavirus.” Darden graduates have listed “The Tipping Point” as one of the 10 most important books they have read.
Gladwell, a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine since 1996, received his undergraduate degree in history from the University of Toronto. He was born in 1963 in England, but grew up in Canada. From 1987 to 1996, he was a reporter for The Washington Post, first as a science writer and then as New York City bureau chief.