April 26, 2010

Weekend ReCap: UCLA Book Festival

Photo found here.

Officially known as the "L.A. Times Festival of the Book," this is billed as (and is) the largest literary event on the west coast.  I've been attending the festival off and on since it began, about 15 (!) years running now. Except that when I first began going, I didn't have to drive over 100 miles to get there. (At least traffic was not an issue, this year.)

Some years I take Myk, some years I drive in with friends, meet friends, etc. This year was a first, in that I brought someone with me from here in town, whom I just recently discovered also has writing and literary interests of her own.  This was her first time going ever, and she wasn't too forthcoming, but I'm pretty sure she had a good time.  We also met my good friend Becky and two of her buds, all of us invested in the written word, in one form or another.

Held on the beautiful UCLA campus, it's inspiring to walk around and see so many thousands of people there, drawn solely by the promise of books and authors. And maybe their authors aren't too highbrow --- being in L.A., there are lots of celebrity authors and cookbook/celeb chefs -- but hey -- a book is a book. 

There are booths upon booths upon booths of independent, small book presses and publishers, booths upon booth of small and indie bookstores. But if you like to keep it corporate, Target and Borders and Barnes & Noble have their big booths, too.
These aren't my own pictures (forgot to pull out my camera until the end of the day), but we did walk up these steeps steps.
Photo from here.

This year I attended two of the (free!) author panels, one on the memoir, and one featuring three women writers, including Dylan Landis.  I bought her book, Normal People Don't Live Like This, a collection of linked short stories about teenage girls in NYC in the 70s.  Stunning, good stuff.
I always, always get a little bit of a case of vertigo and just plain queasiness when I attend the writing/author panels in the tiered classrooms and see row upon row of ambitious, bookish people like myself. And I think: all these people want to write books too.  All these people have the same ambitions and yearnings and yadda yadda too. Like I said: queasy. But then I get over myself and remember that the universe is abundant and there is room for us all. 

Uh-huh.  Right.

I also bought 2 books of poetry, by Frank O'Hara and Mary Oliver.  New York in the 1950s and awe of the natural world, respectively.  Recently I made a list of things I want to do more of (bake more. wear more skirts. try to like hot tea.) and reading more poetry again was on the list.  O'Hara is already a favorite of mine, and I keep encountering Mary Oliver and liking her a lot.  I'm not going to far from the known path here on my poetry choices but then, hello? It's poetry.  "Famous" poets are still just poor, struggling poets.

Anyway, it was fun to go again this year. A dose of inspiration and being among books and like-minded peeps is always a good thing.  If you're near enough to the Southern California area, you might want to give it a try yourself next year. 


  1. I used to live right down the street from UCLA AND I'm a reader AND a wannabe writer AND can you believe? I've never been to the Festival of Books.

    I should be tarred and feathered.

    I'm glad it was a good time.
    I totally want to check out those books of poetry now.

  2. Thank you, Kelly, for your generous words.
    (And I also love Sharon Olds's The Gold Cell.)

  3. Sounds like fun! We had plans to bring the kids but my youngest & I both ended up with a cold that weekend. My sister & brother-in-law went with their toddler and said it was fun but PACKED and my brother-in-law was ready to leave after paying $5 for a lemonade. Might be more fun to go solo or with other writers and not have to worry about entertaining other lol.

  4. Ms. Landis -- wow, thank you for stopping by. I enjoyed the book and look forward to more of you words.

    Juliet -- I always feel a (fleeting) regret that I haven't brought my own kids, b/c there is MUCH there for them, too. But this is really "my" event and it's much more rewarding to go sans children. IMHO. :-)


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