Monday, October 16, 2006

Some Fun and a Bit of Snobbery

This weekend was the Twin Cities Book Festival. It is not a huge, multi-day event like some major book festivals you've probably heard about. Our festival is one day and fits inside the large cafeteria at a local community college in Minneapolis. The author events take place in one of two conference rooms. But it is fun. And while it wasn't crowded, there was definitely a crowd. In the cafeteria area all the vendors are set up, local presses and bookstores, local literary magazines, and a used book fair. I perused them all and came away with a few used books that look new for a total sum of less than $5. I found Bryher's novel Visa for Avalon, Gotham Writer's Workshop Writing Fiction, and Italo Calvino's Hermit in Paris. When I got home it turned out that I already have the Calvino book. When I told my Bookman who was unable to attend due to having to work, he laughed and said, "Blog give away!" Yup. So one of these days, lucky readers, you will have the chance to receive my duplicate copy. Besides wanting to browse the vendors, I went to see Kelly Link and Gavin J Grant talk about editing the fantasy part of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. One of the difficulties they face is that they are allowed something like 150,000 words and fantasy stories are getting longer and longer. The traditional story length for genre fiction is 5,000-7,000 words and some of the stories they read are 30,000. It makes them happy to find shorter stories because they can include more of them. When they end up with a 30,000 word story they feel like they have to include, they have to do a lot of negotiating on the other stories. Sometimes they are able to convince the horror editor to take one of their stories if it has a horror element to it. They were really fun to listen to. Gavin is Scottish and since he has been living in the US for a while now, his accent is softer, but still wonderful to listen to. And Kelly had on the coolest shoes. Two-toned, black and white cowboy-like boots. I wanted to raise my hand and ask her where she got them, but that would have been too dumb. She was nice enough, however, to cross her ankles and shoe me the brand name scrawled in big red letters across the sole, and thanks to the wonderful internet, I have found them. But alas, they are not vegetarian and it is not worth sacrificing my principles for a pair of shoes. When you sit in a talk given by two writer/editors who read a lot, invariably they start tossing out titles of books that they really liked:

And, since Kelly and Gavin are the proprietors of Small Beer Press, they also tossed out a few favorite presses and magazines:I've heard of a few of the magazines, but all the rest will be fun new things to investigate! I also attended a celebrity spelling bee. For the most part, adults do not spell well. Someone was knocked out in the first round for misspelling "balloon." It turns out that author Alicia Conroy, author of Maps of the Imagination is an excellent speller. It came down to her and local voice talent Susan Fuller who was finalist when she was a kid in the MN State Spelling Bee. Alicia goofed on "rambouillet," a breed of sheep. Susan spelled it right and clenched it with the final word which now escapes me. The only thing I did not enjoy about the festival was a sort of insider/outsider vibe. There was a lot of networking going on, a lot writers reminding the people at the presses and magazines who they are as well as a lot of friends saying hi to friends, and people from various MFA programs talking shop. One of my coworkers was also there and she mentioned it before I did so I know I am not imagining things. Networking and saying hi to friends is not a bad thing in and of itself, but when I am standing at a booth asking about a book or magazine then I am suddenly ignored because a friend walks up, don't be surprised when I walk away without buying a thing.