Sunday, September 26, 2010

Omaha Lit Fest - Part Two


As much as I enjoyed the first day of the Omaha Lit Fest, the next day, a Saturday saw me hesitant to spend a beautiful Saturday sitting inside.  I felt a bit guilty about taking the whole day to myself when there were so many things I felt like I needed to get done at home.  But again the nagging thought came to me "if someone who loves books as much as I do doesn't attend, who will?" 

The first panel was "Literary Bibliophilia: Novels about Novels, Fiction about Fiction" and included Lit Fest organizer and author Timothy Schaffert, book artist Peter Kuper, and authors Melanie Benjamin ("Alice I Have Been") and Mary Helen Stefaniak ("The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia").  All three of the authors have written books that relate to other stories and Kuper has recently completed illustrating a Mexican edition of "Alice In Wonderland."  Benjamin defended her book against people upset that she "ruined" their memories of a childhood favorite because the book itself, "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland," was dark.  Kuper agreed; his recent illustrations reflect that.  He couldn't find a way to avoid Alice's horror.  Stefaniak said "The Arabian Nights" (as the stories are also known) were also dark.  Each story ended the same way, essentially saying "and so they were happy...until."

I skipped the next two panels, I must confess, because the day was just too beautiful to spend entirely inside.  I hit up my fav antique/second hand store, visited a new-to-me used book store and then I spent an hour drinking coffee and reading.

I really could have spent the rest of the afternoon there had not Melanie Benjamin and author Kevin Brockmeier not been doing a reading.  Benjamin told the audience about how she came to write the book and a bit about the history between Alice Liddell (Lewis Carroll's muse) and Charles Dodgson (a.k.a. Lewis Carroll).  Benjamin was inspired by a photograph that Dodgson had taken of seven-year-old Alice that she saw in an exhibit; Alice struck her as an old soul in a young body with an expression that was very adult and modern.  Then she read from the start of the book and the lady can really make her book come alive.  It was like watching an actress inhabiting a character. 

Brockmeier talked about a new book he has coming out inspired by his desire to write a modern story with a classic twist, much as the newer fairy tales.  He read a "fable" about a man who buys a used coat only to discover that prayers keep appearing in the pockets as slips of paper.

The next session was a reading by Schaffert, Brockmeier and Kate Bernheimer from the book "My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me," which I just squealed about on Friday.  Each of them has contributed a story to the collection which I'll talk about more when I review the book.  Again I was impressed by Bernheimer's knowledge of fairy tales but the Brockmeier and Schaffert were no slouches on the subject either.

Kuper's session ended the Lit Fest.  He talked about his history of drawing (he started as a response to fear) and the difficulties in making a career of illustrating for books and magazines.  Kuper has done a lot of work for Time magazine, among other magazines and newspapers as well as illustrating his own graphic novels and a magazine that he has helped self-publish for 30 years. I'd had Mini-me and his best friend come down for the last two sessions as they are both creative types and they loved getting to see Kuper's work.

It was a really inspirational day but I can't tell you how hard it was for me to walk away without buying one single book--well, except for the two I bought for the boys to have signed.  Greatest signatures ever--I'll have to post pics soon!

15 comments:

  1. Wow you had a great day! I really do wish someday I will be able to attend a book festival too!

    That fable told by Brockmeier sounded good! I want to read that story too!

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  2. Sounds absolutely fantastic! I just attended the SIBA Trade Show and met fantastic bloggers and picked up 47 books! Sigh...pure heaven! :)

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  3. Arent book events fun? Cant wait to see the pictures you post!

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  4. Sounds like a wonderful day... I admire your restraint!

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  5. Oh my! This sounds like it was a perfect day and I am so thrilled for you that you got to attend!

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  6. what a great way to spend a day! i have yet to attend any type of book event or fair but living within driving distance of nyc, philly ,and dc really allows me ample opportunities! i'll keep my eyes open for upcoming events. :)

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  7. You didn't buy one book?! You have more fortitude than I!

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  8. Glad you had a great day in general as well as meeting some interesting authors. (I've visited the church in Lyndhurst, New Forest, England to see the grave of Alice Liddell. Following literary trails is one of my interests)!

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  9. Sounds fantastic, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    BTW I'll probably post about the AFL grand final later in the week (we were given tickets!!!)

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  10. I thought I commented already but as always.... life is a blur :).

    Sounds like you had a wonderful time - I'm jealous!

    Do you think OBC might pick The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia? I really want to read this one and hope to before the years done. I have committed to three TLC tours and haven't read any of the MMBC selections so I'm behind schedule (not rushed though).

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  11. Wow, I'm glad you went, because they had some awesome authors there!!

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  12. I really need to read Alice in Wonderland... Glad you had a fun festival. I am looking forward to Boston's in a few weeks!

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  13. What a great time!! I have to make sure I attend the book festival that happens in Ann Arbor every year!

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  14. I had NO idea that Omaha had a lit fest, I would have been there in a heartbeat!

    I sure sounded like you had a lot of fun.

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