National Black Book Festival


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Black Kindle at the National Book Festival 2012

Let me get back to my trip to DC.  After the shopping, eating and visiting all of my favorite stores and restaurants, I finally got to the Library of Congress National Book Festival on the Mall in DC.  The weather was beautiful, not too cold and not to hot.  I have attended this fair many times, but this year, it was packed.  If you think the Mall cannot get filled?  It did.  There were big white tents filled with various authors according to type of books from SciFi, Fiction, History, Children, Mysteries, Teens, and Contemporary Life.  Each tent had scheduled authors and if you did not get a seat two maybe three hours before an author's appearance, you were sitting in the back on the ground or outside around the ten.  I did not get in or even close to sit and listen to R. L. STINE (Goosebumps) and RACHEL RENEE RUSSELL (Dork Dairies).  Their tents were filled from inside and out with kids and teens.  I did hear a little bit, but not much. 

This event was also telecast on BookTV on c-Span, if you want to see it.  Another big tent was filled with representatives from each state on their book festivals, history of the state, their libraries and free give-a-ways.  They also provided a map to fill with a stamp from each state (you had to visit each state table to get it stamped).  After the map was filled, you get a prize.  Not a book, but some neat trinkets. 
 I did get close enough to hear and see Patricia Cornwell.  I have never read any of her books and I’ve seen large amounts of her books at the Charleston Friends of the Library book fairs.  While I was waiting in the author’s signing line for Colson Whitehead; it was better for us to get in the line early than to try to see and hear him in the tent, her autographed line was next to his.  She had finished autographing and she was surrounded by two big, burly men who looked like body guards.  I've heard later that she does have body guards due to some of her previous books that she solved in the books, but there are some nuts out there who believe she's right and want her dead.  I stepped over the rope separating the lines and ask her if I could have her autographed.  Her assistance (I think it was), told me she only signs her books.  I said, “I only want her autographed on the Book festival poster.”  I didn’t have the book because it was sold out and my budget could not accommodate it.  Mrs. Cornwell, while she was sitting down and the large body guard started getting closer to me, said, I will sign your poster, where is it?  Her assistant then said, “We don’t have any more and they cost money.”  A volunteer standing next to Mrs. Cornwell’s both said, “no, they are free,” and she handed one to me.  Mrs. Cornwell signed my poster and I said thank you very much and she responded, “You are most welcome and thank you for being a reader.”  I thought she was just so sweet and nice.  I went back to my place in line (I was second) and I heard Mrs. Cornwell tell her assistance, “Please don’t do that again, I can sign anything any reader wants me to.”  “Without them you would not have a job.”  A few overhead the comment and started to clap.  
I will try and get her first book in this series from the library and see what the fuss is all about.  After my two hour wait in a line that was getting long, not as long as Cornwell, I finally got to see Colson Whitehead up close.  You know how when you get up close to an author or celebrity, that look so damn different from their pictures.  Colson does not, he looks like his pictures.  Tall, cocoa brown skin with twinkles of gray and black on his face; beautiful white teeth and long, scattered deadlocks on his head.  He also has such a soft voice and very pleasant.  He autographed the book I brought there, “ZONE ONE: A NOVEL.”  I did not see his other books at the fair, SAG HARBOR: A NOVEL - $11.99 - Sag Harbor: A Novel (this novel reminds me of The Wedding by Dorothy West. 

THE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK - $11.99 - The Colossus of New York

JOHN HENRY DAYS - $11.99 - John Henry Days

APEX HIDES THE HURT - $11,99 - Apex Hides the Hurt, and my favorite

THE INTUITIONIST: A NOVEL - $11.99 - The Intuitionist: A Novel.  I have all of his books at home, but all in all, it was an exciting pleasure to meet and talk to him. 

I did buy some books, but was not able to get their autographs because of the crowds.  I didn’t care.  It was just fun seeing them and hanging out with my kid and the beautiful weather and being home.  I was “home.”

Here are the other authors and they were over 100, that I got a chance to at least see their faces.

DONNA BRITT - BROTHERS (and ME): A MEMOIR OF LOVING AND GIVING - $11.04 - Brothers (and Me): A Memoir of Loving and Giving
STEPHEN L. CARTER - THE IMPEACHMENT OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN - $13.99 - The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln.  It just so happens that my girlfriend and I are going to see Steven Spielberg’s movie based on DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN - $9.99 - Team of Rivals.  A co-worker of mine is letting me borrow his book.  He says he really enjoyed it and since he knows I'm a big reader, he states I will like it to.  
WALTER DEAN MYERS - ALL THE RIGHT STUFF - $7.99 - All the Right Stuff .  He has so many books.

TAYARI JONES - SILVER SPARROW - $9.18 - Silver SparrowI meet her last year at the National Book Club Convention.  Great, great book.
NIKKY FINNEY - HEAD OFF & SPLIT: POEMS - $11.53 Paperback - Head Off & Split: Poems

There were over a 100 authors and no way you could see and hear them all.  In essence, it was one of the best book festival I have attended.  Man, to be surrounded by books, authors, kids and more books, my life, soul and heart came alive.
Tell me if you don’t see some comparison between Colson’s book, SAG HARBOR and Dorothy West’s THE WEDDING: A NOVEL - $9.99 The Wedding: A Novel.  The books may be a little different with time periods and some things are written a bit similar, but I read both books and I see that even though time and space have changed, “black bourgeoisie“ has not, even in 2012.  Will it ever? 
SAG Harbor: A tender, hilarious, and supremely original novel about coming-of-age in the 80.  Benji Cooper is one of the few black students at an elite prep school in Manhattan. But every summer, Benji escapes to the Hamptons, to Sag Harbor, where a small community of African American professionals have built a world of their own.

The summer of ’85 won’t be without its usual trials and tribulations, of course. There will be complicated new handshakes to fumble through and state-of-the-art profanity to master. Benji will be tested by contests big and small, by his misshapen haircut (which seems to have a will of its own), by the New Coke Tragedy, and by his secret Lite FM addiction. But maybe, just maybe, this summer might be one for the ages.
The Wedding: Before you read about this story, let me tell you that Halle Berry, Lynn Whitfield, Carl Lumbly are in the movie version.  I thought it was OK.  It just did not hit me the way the book did.  Well, you try both and let me know what you think.

Her first novel in forty-seven years, Dorothy West, the last surviving member of the Harlem Renaissance, offers an intimate glimpse into African American middle class.  Set on bucolic Martha's Vineyard in the 1950s, The Wedding tells the story of life in the Oval, a proud, insular community made up of the best and brightest of the East Coast's black bourgeoisie.  Within this inner circle of "blue-vein society," we witness the prominent Coles family gather for the wedding of the loveliest daughter, Shelby, who could have chosen from "a whole area of eligible men of the right colors and the right professions." Instead, she has fallen in love with and is about to be married to Meade Wyler, a white jazz musician from New York. A shock wave breaks over the Oval as its longtime members grapple with the changing face of its community.”
Well, I’m back in Charleston (No, this is not home and it will never be).  I like Charleston and I have to stay here until I am able to get another job in another state or retire.  In the meantime, I will keep focus on my Dave Ramsey Plan, walk my dog more, work on getting rid of smoking, hanging out with friends and volunteering at the library and stay happy.