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The Author Speaks: A Reflection on Conversations and Statements Made at BookExpo America (Day 1)

For those of you not aware (and I think there are only a few), BEA is basically the Comic-Con/Disney Land/All-Star Game for the book world. It’s a gathering of hundreds upon hundreds authors, more publishers and booksellers you could ever dream of, and as many free books as you can walk out with. No, it’s not open to the public, and no, I do not take requests for freebies.

It’s pretty impressive, and there is a constant flow of things to do and see (especially if you’re lucky enough to be working there).

I spend my BEA Day 1 at the Uptown Author Stage, where I heard individuals such as John Irving (The Cider House Rules), Richard Russo (Empire Falls), Dr. Cornel West (American philosopher and political activist), James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential), and others. It was an impressive and diverse line-up. Some discussed topics and questions regarding their writing style and process. Some discussed their fit into their designated genre, or preference for fiction or non-fiction. Overall, it was interesting to hear these men (yes, none of the speakers I saw were women) discussing this art-form/creative outlet that we as readers are so mesmerized by.

One of my particularly favorite moments was when John Irving made is clear that his writing is not meant to please the audience, and that he starts from the end. Turns out, the method to his bestselling madness begins with the very last sentence in the book. He then works his way through the plot backwards.

Another intriguing individual was William Mann, author (and hottie, it must be said) of the new biography about Elizabeth Taylor (How To Be A Movie Star) and best know for his Katherine Hepburn bio (Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn). He spoke of the difficulties and freedoms of writing a biography of one who has passed, and one who is living. For example, there is a lot more guardedness by friends and family of the story when the person is still around, and a protective nature to the discussion. However, with a rather open and unabashed individual like Elizabeth Taylor, Mann seemed to have little trouble in uncovering the story of her Hollywood Stardom.

Finally, there was the ever engaging and energizing voice of Cornel West. He was seen often during the Obama campaign, and while he is a political commentator and speculator, he had supported the run of the current president, while at the same time questioning him as any other government elect. Not only does he prove to be an eloquent and captivating speaker in person, but his views on the times of Obama and our furture as a nation speak of something I can only assume to be similar in strength and voice of Mr. King and the many political activists of our past.

I am happy to report that some authors have retained their reputation of being unquestionably insane unspeakably quirky. Without naming names, I will say that one author in particular has, and will forevermore, stick out to me as undeniably memorable if seemingly unstable.

Now, having finally returned from more impromptu hiatus of posting, I will report back tomorrow on my BEA Day 2 experiences, and will have hopefully acquired many more books!

With that in mind, Voltaire once claimed that “Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.” My thoughts: Same goes for books, so fork ’em over!

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