Sunday, September 12, 2010

Omaha Lit Fest - Part One

The sixth annual Omaha Lit Fest was held this weekend and what a treat it was for book lovers!  Taking a cue from Lewis Carroll, who wrote "what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversation," this year's event examined the very concept of the book, right down to the shape of the words, with an emphasis on fairy tales.

My experience with the fest kicked off Friday evening with a panel discussion titled "A Tender Violence: The Peculiar Nature of Fairy Tales."  The panel included Lit Fest organizer and author Timothy Schaffert, interdisciplinary artist Janet Davidson-Hues, and author Kate Bernheimer, who is also the editor/found of the Fairy Tale Review.  While the entire discussion was very interesting, the highlight for me was listening to Bernheimer who is not only extremely knowledgeable about the subject but also extremely enthusiastic.  My mind immediately began wondering how I can work more fairy tales into my reading.


After the last panel of the day, there was a lovely champagne and chocolate reception - two of my favorite things!  It was a nice chance to get to meet some new people as well as introduce myself to the panelists.

Saturday there were six sessions; I opted to attend four of them so that I could get out for part of the day to enjoy downtown Omaha.  I spent time in my favorite antique shop, tried a new coffee shop, and visited a used book store that is a story unto itself.

The first session of the day was a panel discussion: "Literary Bibliophilia: Novels About Novels, Fiction About Fiction."  Mary Helen Stefaniak, author of "The Cailiffs of Baghdad, GA" headed up the panel; the other panelists were Schaffert, author of "The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters;" Peter Kuper, graphic author and illustrator, most recently a Mexican edition of "Alice in Wonderland:" and Melanie Benjamin, author of "Alice I Have Been."  Each of these authors has either included a novel in their novel or used another piece of fiction in their own fiction.  Each of the panelists also talked about books that had meant a lot to them as a child.  Interestingly, Benjamin did not like "Alice in Wonderland" as a child but Stefaniak cited it as one that she had recognized her own psyche in that things that happened in the book.  Again the discussion returned to the idea that fairy tales were originally quite dark.  Stefaniak reminded us that all of the stories of the Arabian Nights ended with the message "and so they were happy...until."


Omaha Lit Fest - Part Two will appear on Tuesday.  I'd only planned to do one post but there's just so much to tell.  I can't believe I haven't been to the Lit Fest before!

11 comments:

  1. All righty. I pre-ordered My Mother She Ate Me. I'm looking forward to it. It's kind of funny when you think about it that most fairly tales (aka, where Disney got so many of its storylines) ended so darkly!

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  2. This sounds wonderful. We had something like this yesterday in Ann Arbor but I never made time for it so I missed out!

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  3. Wow, a lit fest with a champagne and chocolate reception! Sounds like heaven! Looking forward to hearing Part Two!!!

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  4. Sounds like a great time! I love going to our Festival of Books here in LA.

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  5. Sounds like a great time! I love going to our Festival of Books here in LA.

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  6. This sounds like it was an amazing event, and I am so glad that you had such a good time there! I admit, I need to be reading a lot more fairy tales, and I know that there are plenty of good ones out there right now!

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  7. Oh wow! I am glad you enjoyed so much! Lewis Caroll's Alice is right! :)

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  8. Sounds like a really fun event, and the panels sound great!

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  9. Champagne and Chocolates, enthusiastic speakers at a Lit Fest and the opportunity to visit new bookshops - sounds great! Our city has a literary festival coming up next month, so your experience has put me in the mood.

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  10. Books, plus champagne and chocolate? I would be in heaven!

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  11. Awesome. I was in Omaha yesterday! Just to fly from Eppley... Good thing I didn't know a litfest was going on or I would have made my MIL go with me (and she would have hated it.)

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