Every year for the past 15 years, 40,000 writers, readers, and lovers of literature have flocked to the State Capitol Building for one of Austin’s favorite literary events: the Texas Book Festival. At 2010’s TBF, I listened to Robert Stone reminisce about getting high with Ken Kesey and Neal Cassady—choice sound bite, “I don’t feel very warmly toward Tom Wolfe”—and witnessed Antonya Nelson utter the most surprising sentence ever to be uttered on an author panel: “My husband and I own a ghost town, and we’re renovating the post office there.” Anywho.
This year’s Festival, which will take place on October 22 and 23, promises to be the most exciting yet. With an impressive roster of established and emerging authors and a tempting lineup of readings, presentations, panel discussions, book signings, and live music, we can expect even the most reclusive of bookworms to wriggle our way.
Authors in Attendance
Choosing from the 200+ authors participating in 2011’s TBF is as difficult a task as choosing which events to attend, but if I must, I must. Here’s a shortlist of the authors that rev my engine (in alphabetical order so as not to play favorites which, clearly, I’m already doing. So.):
Susan Orlean – Orlean has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1992. She is also the author of The Orchid Thief, the basis for the film Adaptation, in which Meryl Streep played Orlean. Adaptation is one of Justine’s favorite movies of all time.
Chuck Palahniuk – Palahniuk’s bestselling novels include Tell-All, Pygmy, Snuff, Rant, and Fight Club, which was made into a movie by David Fincher, Diary, Survivor, Invisible Monsters, and Choke, which was made into a film by Clark Gregg. He is also the author of the nonfiction profile Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon, published as part of the Crown Journey Series, and the nonfiction collection Stranger Than Fiction. Palahniuk’s short story “Guts” nearly made Justine vomit … in a good way.
Justin Torres – Torres’ work has appeared in Granta, Tin House, and Glimmer Train. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, he is the recipient of a Rolón Fellowship in Literature from United States Artists and is now a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. Justine was blown away by the breathtaking beauty of Torres’ recent novel We the Animals. She wants to be him.
Events of Note
I’m sorry. I can’t. Don’t hate me. (“Sex and the City,” anyone? No? Too soon?) I want to go to everything! View the full schedule here and deal with your own guilt over what awesomeness you’ll have to miss in favor of something slightly more awesome. Seriously. Leave me out of it.
That said, there is one TBF event that I’ll mention because (a) it’s brand spankin’ new, and (b) WriteByNight is involved.
Introducing the Austin Lit Crawl (October 22), featuring TBF authors on stage and in conversation at six hip East Sixth Street venues. The official lineup has yet to be released. Stay tuned here.
As if that’s not enough to wet your whistle—oh, just admit it, your whistle is wet—the best news is yet to come.
Wait for it.
The Texas Book Festival is free and open to the public. So … that happened. If you ask me (which you didn’t), it doesn’t get much better than this. See you there, chickadees.
Justine Tal Goldberg is an award-winning writer and editor of both fiction and nonfiction. Her short stories have appeared in Anomalous Press, Whiskey Island, Fringe Magazine, and other publications. Her journalistic work has appeared in the Texas Observer, Austin Monthly, and Publishing Perspectives, among others. She holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Emerson College. She owns and operates WriteByNight, a writing center and writers’ service headquartered in Austin.