Texas Book Festival 2014
The Texas Book Festival is one of the largest book festivals in the country, attracting more than 40,000 visitors each year with its wide variety of authors. Children's book writers, YA novelists, culinary critics, journalists, filmmakers, and of course, literary stalwarts are represented, coming together for an occasion that can truly be said to offer something for everyone. This year is no different: for two days, the Capitol will be brimming with established writers of tremendous talent and fresh new voices with burgeoning promise, often paired side by side to discuss their craft, the themes they tackle, and the world around them. With so much going on (and no fewer than 21 locations throughout the downtown area devoted to different happenings), we don't advise going in without a bit of research. Fortunately, we've done some of the work for you. Here are our picks for TBF 2014.
Saturday, October 25
The first day is definitely the busier of the two. Things start off early with Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams, discussing—what else?—empathy with Jon Kolko at 10:45 at Capitol Extension Room E2.016. Jamison's essay collection was released to universal acclaim this spring, winning the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and going on to become a New York Times Bestseller.
At 11:30, you'll be forced to face the most difficult decision of the weekend: whether you want to head over to Capitol Extension Room E1.026 to see Bret Anthony Johnston, or go instead to the Kirkus Reviews Tent, where you can catch newcomer Tiphanie Yanique talk race and identity with Jess Row. Johnston needs no introduction--he's been a major figure since the release of his debut collection, Corpus Christi, in 2004. Yanique, however, has been turning heads with her debut novel, Land of Love and Drowning. This one comes down to personal preference—you're on your own.
Perhaps the most acclaimed new writer of the year is Molly Antopol, whose debut collection The UnAmericanswas released in February and was longlisted for the National Book Award. Also longlisted was hometown hero Elizabeth McCracken's Thunderstruck & Other Stories. In yet another cruel twist of scheduling, both will be talking at 12:45 in different locations. Antopol is at Capitol Extension Room 1.206 (following Bret Antony Johnston) and McCracken is at Capitol Extension Room E2.028. Antopol will be discussing cultural identity in a global setting with Kseniya Melnik, author of Snow in May, while McCracken speaks with Irish author Eimear McBride, whose debut novel A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing, with its unconventional style, has turned heads like few other novels this year. As with everything, the choice comes down to personal taste, but we root for the home team on this one.
That said, you may want to skip out on the 12:45 discussions altogether and stake out a spot at the Kirkus Reviews Tent, which hosts the rest of our picks for the afternoon. Acclaimed new authors Malcolm Brooks, Mira Jacob, and Vanessa Manko speak at 1:45; Edan Lepucki and Emily St. John Mandel talk disasters at 3:00; and poets Matthea Harvey and Nicole Callihan present at 4:00.
Of course, Joyce Carol Oates will also be presenting at 4:00 in the House Chamber, so if you're looking to stretch your legs or get a change of scenery, we'd hardly blame you.
Sunday, October 26
Sunday starts later, so you can grab some breakfast tacos beforehand and make it over to see Michener Center Director James Magnuson at the Kirkus Reviews Tent at 11:00, or you can hold off and catch Smith Henderson and Philipp Meyer with Brian McGreevey under the same tent at noon. Henderson is one of two debut novelists to write about Montana this year (the other being fields favorite Malcolm Brooks), and both capture the enchantment and the wilderness of Big Sky Country in their own very different but equally accomplished ways.
Henderson also presents at 2:30 with local crime fiction writer Brian Hart, so if you want to hold off and check out someone else in the meantime, Write Bloody author Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz will present with Myra MacPherson at Capitol Extension Room E2.012 at 12:15 and former Jesus Lizard frontman David Yow will talk about his book of cats at Capitol Extension Room E1.206 at 12:30. If you've seen his interview with Lil Bub over at the AV Club (or if you know anything about David Yow), you know this will probably be totally insane.
If you can somehow tear yourself away from that performance, local author Natalia Sylvester talks family with Désirée Zamorano at Capitol Extension Room E2.010 at 1:00. And speaking of family, Richard Linklater and a few of the folks behind this summer's superb 12-year-real-time coming-of-age film Boyhood—including star Ellar Coltrane—will be speaking at the House Chamber at 3:30.
Much like at the end of that film, you may find yourself awash in a sea of emotions and more or less spent after hightailing it between so many discussions all weekend. But there it is! Those are our picks. Feel free to attend or not attend as many of the presentations as you'd like, or take a look at the schedule and put something together for yourself. For more information on authors and locations, check out the TBF homepage, and check back with us later this week for our picks on the always-entertaining Lit Crawl. Happy reading!