The National Book Festival is this Saturday on the National Mall. Enough people have confused me for an expert to ask if I have tips regarding what to do there and how to do it, but my suggestions are all pretty obvious and simple. Bring an umbrella, regardless of what the forecast says; make a point to at least walk through the Pavilion of the States, in which every state has a table plugging its literature (it’s as close at the event will get to promoting small-press books); and get a seat early for the bigger names. (There are probably people already parked for James Patterson.) Lastly, don’t stand in line for those C-SPAN tote bags; C-SPAN brought plenty, and one must preserve one’s dignity. The lineups are largely big names and self-explanatory, but seek out David A. Taylor, who’ll be discussing his history of the WPA Writers’ Project, Soul of a People; I interviewed Taylor for the blog earlier this year.
Marianne Wiggins‘ list of the best works of American fiction.
John Krasinski discussed his film version of Brief Interviews With Hideous Men shortly before David Foster Wallace died.
The Wall Street Journal has an excerpt from Look at the Birdie, a collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s unpublished short fiction.
The most powerful influence on David Updike‘s fiction wasn’t his dad—it was Ann Beattie.
The Guardian uses Granta‘s Chicago issue as an opportunity to wonder if the big-city novel is dead.
Mark Twain, animal rights activist.
It’s the 25th anniversary of the New York State Writers Institute at the University of Albany, where Mary Gordon may or may not have tried to slug Norman Mailer in the middle of a panel discussion.
Catherine Corman‘s photography book Daylight Noir: Raymond Chandler’s Imagined City, which has a preface by Jonathan Lethem, sounds fascinating, and it has a stellar Web site to match.
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Thanks, Mark! And good to have the advice and fascinating piece on Mark Twain. A big book restoring the conservation writer cred of his younger contemporary Teddy Roosevelt just came out: Douglas Brinkley’s Wilderness Warrior.