The Book of Life
March 18, 2012

This week’s letter was going to focus on the two books I am currently reading, but family matters have taken the upper hand in my life and it appears as though that will continue for a while more. I ask our readers’ (and writers’) forgiveness if this section is short. My attention is required elsewhere. I hope to be back in good form in the not-too-distant future, and wish you all the best reading in the world.

Upcoming Book Festivals and Fairs:
The eastern and southern parts of the US are where the book action is this week. And they all look great. So if you are in Louisiana, Mississippi, Vermont or Virginia be sure to check these out.

Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Site: Various venues around Charlottesville
Festival: Virginia Festival of the Book
Date: March 21-25
This five-day festival of mostly free events is an outstanding one. It opens on Wednesday morning with a Leadership Breakfast, then over the days includes an exhibition of popular fiction, talks, interactive plays, discussions, luncheons, the opening ceremony, panel presentations, poetry and poetry readings, cooking demonstrations, music, the Annual Book Fair on Saturday, antique exhibitions, a Kids Book Swap, and much more.

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Site: Various venues in the French Quarter
Festival: Tennessee Williams / New Orleans Literary Festival
Date: March 21-25
Among the events are literary panel discussion, several theatrical performances including the opening night’s Glass Mendacity performance, master classes for writers and other artists, the Scholars’ Conference, a “Drummer and Smoke” music program, the Literary Late Night Series, the Breakfast Book Club, the Priceless Raffle, poetry slams, and various walking tours and food events plus lots of other special happenings.

Location: Oxford. Mississippi
Site:  Various venues around Oxford and Lafayette County
Festival: Oxford Conference for the Book
Date: March 22-24
This conference is designed to “celebrate books, reading, and writing while also examining the practical concerns on which the literary arts and the humanities depend, including literacy, freedom of expression, and the state of publishing.” It’s a bit outside the usual parameters for a listing here, but the fifty-two talented speakers and panelists for this multi-day event promise a day of wide-ranging excellence. Other events include the Mississippi Delta Literary Tour and two Literature for Young Authors sessions. Registration begins at 10:00 am on Thursday.

Location: South Burlington, Vermont
Site: Sheraton Hotel
Festival: Vermont Antiquarian Book & Ephemera Fair
Date: March 2
From 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, there will be thirty New England and Northeast dealers in antiquarian books and related ephemera showing their wares to interested buyers and browsers.

The Pub House:
Mainstream Publishing is a Scottish house that was founded in the late 1970s. (In 2005, it partnered up with mega-publisher Random House.) It focuses primarily on nonfiction, including but not limited to true crime, cookery, biography and memoir, sports, Irish interests, Scottish interests, politics, and history. But its fiction selection is large too. Among their fascinating books is The Town Below the Ground: Edinburgh’s Legendary Underground City is an unusual history of an unusual place that was developed when the town, unable to expand outward built downward. The novel A Summer of Drowning follows painter Angelika Rossdal to the Arctic Circle where she moves to dedicate herself to her craft, but it is her daughter, Liv, who, in looking back at that pivotal summer, tells the story of events that are almost dreamlike. The Ghost Runner: The Tragedy of the Man They Couldn’t Stop is the story of John Tarrant, who wanted nothing more than to run—but was refused and banned from the sport because he had accepted a small amount of money for fighting as a teenage boxer, thus compromising his amateur status. He fought back by gate crashing races with no number of his shirt and became known as the ghost runner, and as one of the greatest long-distance runners in the world.

Imaging Books & Reading:
Termites are book demons. This picture is from a now-inaccessible article from the January 2012 issue of, which noted that the termite damage here sent this book, as many other books and manuscripts before it, to Italy’s Central Institute for the Conservation and Restoration of Damaged Books.

Of Interest:
Between the Lines is not literary—other than it being an article in a magazine—but it is worth reading. If you drive in a large city, parking is inevitably a problem at some point, or a lot of points, in your life. Los Angeles magazine took a look at what that prized parking spot may actually be costing you, and your city. And though it is written with an eye to car-centric Los Angeles, it will open your eyes to the history of people, their cars, and that bane of all drivers’ lives, parking meters.

Until next week, read well, read often and read on!




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