Sunday, September 13, 2009

Brooklyn Book Festival

So on Sunday, I attended the Brooklyn Book Festival, a free event in downtown Brooklyn celebrating bookeses and writers and comicses. Hurray! All of my favorite things!

Let's see--there were two bookmobiles, at least five stages for live readings, enough small publishers to wage a decent war on Google headquarters, comics, novels, novellas, poetry, music, hot dogs cuz it's New York, and of course, the icy spectre of death. Thanks for showing up to remind us all of what will likely happen to the masterpieces and G.A.Ns currently occupying memory space in our computers. You always know how to turn a good time into a great one, Death.

I had plans to attend some "serious" readings, like the Tribute to Normal Mailer, Edwidge Dandicat, Russell Banks, that sort of thing. But then I remembered that I'd never read any Norman Mailer, that Russell Banks had insulted a Nobel Prize winner (and myself) the last time I saw him, and that Edwidge Dandicat, while having the coolest name EVER, probably didn't write about zombies. And since I had the option to meet writers who DID occupy the zombie genre--well, what further explanation is needed? Just look at Death here. The universe was obviously giving me a sign.

So I went to the New York Comic-Con section, which was crammed into a corner of the park to protect the norms from nerd-contamination, and the BF and I sat in on a panel called "Scifi and Fantasy in New York City," featuring (from left to right) Dave Roman, Anton Strout, Peter Brett, S.C. Butler, and Brian Slattery. The funny thing is, I've never heard of any of these guys--yeah, they're all white males, but what can you do?--but it was the best time I had at the festival all day.

Now, I'd already attended a "serious" panel called "International Graphic Novel, featuring one of my favorite authors/illustraters, Guy Delisle (right), author of "Pyongyang," which is getting turned into an animated movie (rather excited about that). So these "serious" comic book people, they chatted about the process, about sketches versus photos, about the birthright Israel program and the teachers' strike in Mexico. It was good stuff, solid nuts-and-bolts writing, and some of it was quite adventurous, but they were all so freaking serious. I wanted to yell up at them, "Hey guys, they're comics! Let's see your inner nerd!"

That's why it was so cool to attended the Scifi panel and have Anton Strout tell me, "Stop bouncing in your seat, fan girl!" when I snapped their picture. There was an instant camaraderie amongst these genre writers, an easiness with each other and themselves, that was just delightful to experience. They'd never met before, but by the end, Anton was inviting Brian to do lunch. Perhaps because they're already outside the realm of "serious" (there's that word again) literature, these zombie-raising, orc-slaying, D&D masters don't feel the need to save face in front of all the high makamaka New Yorker-reading types. They can just be as white and nerdy as they want to be.

And I think we can all respect that.

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