The Texas Book Festival is still two weekends away, but it can't get here fast enough for the excited bibliophiles that are counting down the days. The Festival runs over two days, Saturday and Sunday, Oct 22-23, but there's so much to see in that short window of literary opportunity. So we're helping to highlight some of the major events that are going down so you don't miss out on a drop of the major action.
There's so much to do, we had to break it down into two parts! So here are our picks for Saturday, Oct 22:
As is to be expected, some pretty big names are appearing in the first half of each day at the Paramount Theatre. Comedian turned children's author Molly Shannon and Food TV host Alton Brown show up on Saturday morning to discuss their respective books. (You'll have to wait til Sunday to hear Paula Deen give her signature "Howdy, y'all.") These TV experts will have no problem filling the giant theater with their infectious personalities, and hopefully you'll have time to get a signature as well.
The Paramount also features the exciting Literary Death Match reading series on Saturday featuring a competitive read-off between authors Karen Russell, Libba Bray, Charles Yu and Martha Hall Foose. Local writer/performer/host Owen Egerton joins LDM creator Todd Zuniga and the amazing panel of guest judges Chuck Palahniuk, Lisa Loeb and Adam Mansbach. (Yes, Lisa Loeb. She's also a kids' book author.) There hopefully won't be any blood spilt, but expect plenty of reading and laughter in its place.
Saturday also boasts panels at the House Chamber at the Capitol. Celebrated TV news host Jim Lehrer and Rin Tin Tin author Susan Orlean will both be the focus on their respective panels here. Stephen Harrigan and Lawrence Wright will later be honored here in the Texas Writers Award panel emceed by Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith.
Beloved local writer Sarah Bird will be busy all day at the Senate Chamber on Saturday as she speaks on the the panel about empty nest syndrome (the topic of her recent novel The Gap Year) and later moderates a panel about Little Children and Election author Tom Perrotta.
Meanwhile in the Lone Star Tent, Austin Bat Cave president S. Kirk Walsh moderates a dynamic panel about writing memoirs with some fantastic authors, including Deb Olin Unferth. Later in that same space, rising young author Justin Torres joins his literary contemporaries, Chad Harbach and Amy Waldman, for a panel called "Welcome to the Big Leagues." Co-presented by Texas Monthly and TBF, the panel is moderated by Texas Monthly editor Jake Silverstein.
Texas authors make up a majority of the panels, and Saturday boasts an impressive list of historical and social topics in the various Capitol Extension rooms throughout the day. Peggy Rudd moderates an early morning panel entitled "What You Didn't Learn in 7th Grade Texas History Class," and Rhonda Lashley Lopez discusses her buzzed-about book on Texas ranchwomen later in the same room.
We also have to give a shout out to the young adult writers in attendance who are preserving the future of literary excellence at the festival. The Family Life Center on Lavaca is where most of this happens. Clete Barrett Smith and Jon Scieszka discuss how they and others use humor in their young adult novels to make scary plot details work for them. A zombie-filled discussion about coming-of-age stories takes place right afterward, featuring Jo Whittemore and Mac Barnett, among others. And at the end of the day, Forever Young Adult Book Club host Sarah Pitre hosts a discussion with YA novelists Libba Bray and Sarah Dessen.
If you're looking for comedy, McSweeney's contributor Tyler Stoddard Smith moderates an unquestionably enjoyable panel featuring satirist Andy Borowitz, who is discussing the 50 Funniest American writers of all time. Earlier, a tremendously nerdy and hysterical conversation is sure to erupt at the Senate Chambers with Ernest Cline and Daniel H. Wilson's shared panel on robots and video game dystopias.
Both days, children's stories will happen every half hour at the Read Me a Story Tent at 13th and Colorado. And there will be a separate Children's Entertainment Tent nearby complete with puppet shows, clowns, animals, storytellers and more. And of course, plenty of music at the Music Tent near the Capitol. The streets will be blocked off and crowded with content book buyers, busy authors signing books and happy Austinites just enjoying the largest free literary event in the state of Texas.
Phew! And there's still so much more!
If you have the energy, the bottom of the Saturday schedule includes the listings for the inaugural TBF Lit Crawl. Along East 6th Street, authors will be collaborating with reading series in town to perform their literature and sign books for their inebriated fans. The Scoot Inn hosts Chuck Palahniuk and Adam Mansbach, Cheer Up Charlie's welcomes TBF-special versions of 5 Things and The Encyclopedia Show, and a special edition of the Porchlight storytelling series happens at Public School. It's hard to pick just one, and that's why there are shows happening at both 8 pm and 9 pm.
Start planning now, and we'll see you at the Book Festival!