Best o' the book fest: May we suggest...?
March means bibliophilia in Charlottesville. That's how much of an institution the Virginia Festival of the Book has become as it readies for its 18th annual book-athon.
Whether your interests are hoarding, after-life experiences, or serial bad relationships, the March 21-25 fest with 222 events and nearly 400 participants is likely to have the proverbial something for everyone.
Browsing the festival schedule to come up with 10 recommendations, the Hook somehow ended up with nearly 30 items in its book bag.
You can forget the mystery luncheon with Jeffrey Deaver—that one's already sold out. And tickets are pretty much guaranteed to be gone for the festival luncheon with University of Richmond president/History Guy Ed Ayers, which takes place on March 22.
Here's a smattering of events we'd like to see, but there are many, many more for you to tailor to your own taste.
Fighting for Civil Rights through Education and War
Stephanie Deutsch covers the educational route with her book, Booker T. Washington, Julius Rosenwald and the Building of Schools for the Segregated South, while Daniel Haulman's The Tuskegee Airmen: An Illustrated History: 1939-1949 shows how military service ultimately chipped away at segregation.
–>Wednesday, March 21, 4pm, City Council Chambers
Cooking Demonstration: New Southern Latino-Table
Sandra Gutierrez grew up in Guatemala and now lives in Cary, North Carolina, which some may argue is no longer the South. Nonetheless, her book, The New Southern-Latino Table: Recipes that Bring Together the Bold and Beloved Flavors of Latin America and the American South makes us hungry. We're hoping for samples.
–>Wednesday, March 21, 6pm, The Happy Cook, Barracks Road Shopping Center
Shakespeare Censored: What We Might Learn
Your festival itinerary should include at least one event in the UVA Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library, which in our humble opinion, is one of the most beautiful buildings at UVA. And to have Rare Book School director Michael J. Suarez come out of the special collection stacks to enlighten on the Spanish Inquisition—he's a Jesuit priest and renowned quipster—and a brief history of censorship, is tempting.
–>Thursday, March 22, 2pm, UVA Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library
A Reading with Kimberly Dozier
Has it been six years since UVA alum Dozier survived a car bomb in Iraq while covering the war for CBS News? She's now reporting on intelligence and counter-terrorism for the AP and still hitting hot spots like Afghanistan. Her book is Breathing the Fire: Fighting to Survive and Get Back to the Fight; her profits go to Wounded Warriors in memory of those who didn't survive.
–>Thursday, March 22, 4pm, UVA Colonnade Club (Pavilion VII)
My Mother's Hidden Life: Three Generations of Iranian Women and a Child Left Behind
Jasmin Darznik's Iranian-born mother had an arranged marriage at 13 years old and was divorced while still a teenager. To escape her brutal marriage, she had to abandon her first-born child. Darznik was born in Tehran, her parents moved to the United States when she was five, and she received her PhD in English from Princeton. She teaches at Washington and Lee, and her book, The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother's Hidden Life, is slated to be published in 13 countries.
–>Thursday, March 22, 4pm, the Senior Center
Fiction: Harbach, Henderson, Preston—Highly Recommended!
We'll second the Book Fest's exclamation point on this one—2011 literary It Guy Chad Harbach, who defied publishing trends with The Art of Fielding, Eleanor Henderson, another UVA MFA who made the New York Times 10 best books of 2011with Ten Thousand Saints, and Caroline Preston, who has put her own stamp on the graphic novel with The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt, are all on one stage, with Christopher Tilghman moderating. We're just worried the location isn't big enough.
–>Thursday, March 22, 8pm, UVA Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library
Moonshine, Mountaineers, and Motorcycles: On the Crooked Road to Now and Then
Here's a tip from a long-time Book Festival goer—never pass up an event that has "moonshine" in the title. Folklife guru Jon Lohman moderates this panel with documentarian Charles Thompson, who's written the long-titled Spirits of Just Men: Mountaineers, Liquor Bosses, and Lawmen in the Moonshine Capital of the World, Michael Abraham, author of Harmonic Highways, and Paddy Bowman, who wrote Through the Schoolhouse Door: Folklore, Community, Curriculum. Did we mention moonshine?
–>Friday, March 23, 10am, Central Library
Literary Icons—Their Lives and Works: Vonnegut, Tolstoy, and E.B. White
Charles Shields has made a career of writing about literary icons, following up Mockingbird, his biography of Harper Lee, with So It Goes, the first bio of Kurt Vonnegut. UVA's Andrew Kaufman is the go-to man for Understanding Tolstoy, and prolific writer Michael Sims takes on The Story of Charlotte's Web: E.B. White's Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic.
–>Friday, March 23, 4pm, UVA Bookstore
Memoirs: How We Cope
Clutter cleaner Matt Paxton is a regular on A&E's Hoarders, and has penned The Secret Life of Hoarders. Sandra Beasley is a regular on Brooklyn-filtered literary salon Trip City. Her memoir is Don't Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life. Together, they've got psychological and biological issues covered.
–>Saturday, March 24, noon, City Council Chambers
Southern Refrains: An Evening with Lee Smith, Jill McCorkle, Marshall Chapman, and Matraca Berg
This show is a Southern femme fest of musicians and wordsmiths, and when Lee Smith says you're gonna have a great time, we believe her. Smith is a book fest regular, and her latest is Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger. Her former student Jill McCorkle has been critically acclaimed since she published two books simultaneously at age 26. Nashville legend Marshall Chapman also has literary creds—They Came to Nashville is her latest—and acting chops, playing Gwyneth Paltrow's manager in Country Strong. Grammy nominee and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer Matraca Berg wrote the title song for Chapman's musical, Good Ol Girls, based on the stories of Smith and McCorkle. Got that? One of the few ticketed book fest events, proceeds go to support the Festival.
–>Saturday, March 24, 8pm, Paramount, $32 and $48