Are we there yet? Counting the days until the Miami Book Fair (34 to go).
For two decades I’ve covered the Miami Book Fair, and it’s still the highlight of my year. Kind of like what Christmas was before I reached the age of reason. Here’s an early peek.
Can’t wait for the Book Fair? (Me, neither!) Fortunately, the parent organization, The Center @ Miami Dade College, offers year-round author presentations, creative writing courses, and more!
I’ve been waiting and waiting and waaaaiiiting to write about the upcoming Fair, which begins Sunday, Nov. 13 with the first installment of the prestige Evening with… author series and concludes Sunday, Nov. 20 with the final day of the weekend Street Fair.
But I realized this morning that the hardworking folks at the Florida Center for the Literary Arts, who not only put together the Fair but also make this blog possible, won’t have the schedule up until the first of November. Okay, I knew the schedule wouldn’t be up until the first of November, I just didn’t know how tedious it would be getting there.
I mean, if you’ve seen the things I’ve seen at the Fair (and you can, all you have to do is show up!), you’d be squirming with excitement, too: a bristling James Baldwin, near the end of his life, suspicious even of praise; Norman Mailer, with the sails of his ego full of wind; John Updike, announcing the end of sex; Hunter S. Thompson, intoxicated on something; Margaret Atwood, a tiny smiling sprite telling sly jokes…
And last year’s highlight, Patti Smith, leading 600 people in an a cappella rendition of Because the Night, and, I always like to note, making Mitch Kaplan cry.
Happily, however, the line-up of authors has been published at the Book Fair website, and this year’s event promises to repeat the glories of past ones, with an array of authors from all genres, persuasions, walks of life, and many nationalities.
You want showbiz star power? How about Harry Belafonte, movie star and calypso singer (Day-O!)? Uh-huh, I told you. How about Roseanne Cash, not only the daughter of Johnny Cash but a pioneering country-pop singer in her own right, and an acclaimed short-story writer and memoirist.
Literary fiction? Russell Banks, the king of neo-realism and John Barth, the dominant pioneer of post-modernism, plus Robert Olen Butler, Jeffrey Eugenides, Francisco Goldman, and Miami’s own Lynne Barrett, one of the best short story writers alive.
Humor? Dave Barry (of course!), Andy Borowitz, Tim Dorsey, Ricardo Cortes (Go the F**k to Sleep — how hot can you get?).
Popular fiction? Elizabeth Berg, Tasha Alexander, Heather Graham, Lev Grossman…
Politics? David Brooks, Jorge Castaneda, Sarah Glidden.
Graphic novels? Dan Clowes, Mark Kalesniko, Mark Kupperman
Poetry? Patricia Engel, Alex Fumero, Beth Ann Fennelly, Michael Hettich…
And that’s just through the G’s! Hundreds of writers, an embarrassment of literary riches. Crime novels (James Grippando! John Connolly! James W. Hall!) Young adult (Cristina Diaz Gonzalez!). Serious nonfiction (James Gleick!). Breaking young literary stars (Tea Obreht!) Plus children’s stuff, and cooking, and exhibitors’ booths! An entire Spanish-language program!
And China! A whole country with its own pavillion! How cool is that?
Okay, let me catch my breath, getting a little carried away here. But c’mon, man, it’s the book fair! Tell you what, maybe you can’t plan your trip(s) to the fair until Nov. 1, when the schedule of events goes live, but you can do what I do:
Treat the author’s page like a Christmas list. You can’t have it all (sob!), if only because sometimes two writers you want to see will be speaking at the same time in different auditoriums, but you can start to pick and choose, and, if you’re like me, salivate.