Thursday, January 27, 2011

Readers Rejoice at the Tucson Festival of Books

The third annual Tucson Festival of Books is just five weeks away! It's nirvana for book lovers--if you've never been, then clear your calendar now for March 12 and 13, head over to the U of A campus, and prepare to be amazed.

I personally am already working out my game plan for checking in on my favorite authors. First on my list is Pete Dexter, former syndicate columnist and National Book Award-winning author of Paris Trout, a chilling tale of social tensions in the deep south. Trout, a storekeeper, kills a black child, unconcernedly and with no remorse. Certain that his white neighbors will be equally as indifferent, he's flabbergasted when the town, embarrassed by his overt racism, tries him for murder. This is a dark, tightly-written examination of small-minded, small town Southern life.

In Spooner, Dexter's latest outing, he considers the relationship of a son and his stepfather in a hilarious memoir-turned-novel. Spooner is a problem child, the family underachiever in a crop of brilliant offspring. Spooner gets into more trouble in a weekend than most kids manage in a year--he gets expelled from kindergarten for being unnaturally fond of his teacher, and has been known to break into neighbors' houses to urinate in their shoes for reasons that even he can't understand. After an injury curtails his brief, shining moment as a baseball star, Spooner-the-adult resumes his shambling way through life, beset by bad luck and poor judgment. The constant in his life is his stepfather, Calmer Ottosson, a man blessed with patience despite his own disappointments. Dexter never fails to spin a great yarn. In Spooner he delivers a tale that is at times heart-breaking, but more often riotously funny.

I'll also be stopping by to hear Lisa Genova, neuroscientist-turned author of Still Alice. A warning: if you've ever walked into a room and forgotten what you came for, you may find yourself discomforted by this disturbing yet spellbinding first-person narrative of a Harvard professor descending into early-onset Alzheimers. The outcome is a tragic and foregone conclusion, but you'll find yourself rooting for Alice in her struggle to remain strong and independent in the face of the inexorable loss of her mind. This is Genova's first outing as a novelist, and its remarkable.

Other literary luminaries on my must-see list are Martin Cruz Smith (his latest Arkady Renko thriller--7th in the series that began with Gorky Park is Three Stations, in which Renko investigates the apparent suicide of a prostitute); Julia Glass (she won the National Book Award with The Three Junes and her latest, The Widower's Tale, features a retired librarian -- I'm a fan!); and Elizabeth Berg (The Last Time I Saw You).

Make your own list! Go to the
Tucson Festival of Books website to see the complete roster of presenting authors, then get ready for an unforgettable weekend of books and authors. The Festival is free, and so is the parking. Don't miss it!

Click on the links to find these books at the library.


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