Written by Grant Albert
During this rainy weekend, thousands of locals and tourists alike migrated to the Wolfson Campus for the International Book Fair. Everyone from the novice writer to the elite were there expressing their passion for writing and reading. The book fair is more than just purchasing a paperback of the Old Man and the Sea; there is much more to see, do, and eat. With a seemingly perpetual number of panels, these were a few highlights from the weekend:
Friday night was full of chilly winds and spotty showers; however, The Swamp was indoors and toasty, perfect for a “Literacy Death Match.” The writing competition Literacy Death Match is when two authors read a sample of their writing to three judges who critique them on originality, flow, and overall writing. After two rounds, a winner is chosen. This time it was local writer, Jennine Capo Crucet; with a heartbreaking, yet humorous story of a brother’s death in Hialeah.
As the night wound down, what better way to end the night than jazz with electricity? The Spam Allstars brought a flow of classic jazz rhythm but sampled archaic voice recordings from who knows when. It blended the overall funk and fluidity.
Saturday was the busiest day. The streets were full of food trucks and the sweet smell of arepas. Young adult fiction ruled with a panel by Leslye Walton, Maggie Stiefvater, and Michelle Hodkin who told the crowd of teens and adults to embrace their inner-weirdness. As some of these authors revealed they were bullied in high school, it brought a sense of empathy and strength in that “we are all the same.” This panel was strong, not only for its inclusion of quality writers, but in expressing creativity and influencing the young crowd.
“Sex, Love, War and the Pill.” Words that seem to be thrown on a piece of paper but after a lecture from Amanda Vail, Myra Machpherson, and Jonathan Eig we learned just how connected these three boundary breaking stories were. Women’s rights and oppression were the main themes of this panel. Gender discrimination in the workplace during the 19th century and the long awaited introduction of birth control was discussed in fascinating detail. Finally, the audience had the chance to hear the story of four people and the relationship between them during the Spanish Civil War. One of the couples just happened to be Hemingway and MarthaGellhorn. This panel was not about “quick” tips to improve writing but to learn just how far gender equality has come from not too long ago.
Lastly, we explored 1960s nostalgia and censorship with comic legend Denis Kitchen. His panel was appropriately in the Wolfson art gallery. The comic world was not always vibrant and colorful. Harsh censorship in the 1960s lead to Kitchen starting a revolution of “adults only”comics being sold in head shops. Kitchen told of his still strong friendship with legend Stan Lee; and, how they took the world of comics by storm.
The International Book Fair is a week-long event and that still would not give you enough time to see everything from Richard Dawkins to Anne Rice. It is conducted on a massive scale that will only continue to grow; however, the reoccurring theme stays the same. Author and writer Jason Segel put perfectly, “Reading is the most important thing you will ever do. It makes you not only a better writer but a better person.”
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