Sunday, September 12, 2010
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.
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!