17 July 2010

Iowa City Book Festival 2010: Saturday

The Iowa City Book Festival was bigger and better this year!  This is what happens when your city is designated a UNESCO City of Literature (only the third in existence, after Edinburgh* and Melbourne).

Audrey Niffenegger kicked off the Shambaugh lecture series by reading from Her Fearful Symmetry and then taking questions.  The organizers allowed for about 40 minutes of questions which was great.  Audrey talked about how she came for a workshop at the IWP summer session and at that time The Time Traveler's Wife was plotted thematically - after workshopping TTW she restructured it more along Claire's life chronology and then it made sense.  She also talked about her visual artwork and, in response to an audience question, said she purposely gave Claire an art preference/style/type that she herself wouldn't have to make so Claire could be conceptual and readers could imagine what they liked.  She also said she liked to ground her books in reality as much as possible using real places and modelling her characters on real people since her plots all center around a very "unreal" concept - ghosts, time-travel, etc.  She signed books afterward and I took Jackie's copy of TTW to have it signed for her.

Great Audrey quote: "I'm decadent, but I'm not that decadent" when asked if she reads purely for pleasure (she's currently reading an advance of a book about coffins/death rituals or something like that - she says it's very good).

I did some knitting while hogging my seat in-between discussions (I missed Ash from English Major's Junk Food when she presented her "picks" out in the lobby - she posted her picks here on her blog) .

Jane Smiley spoke next and let me tell you - she is a riot.  She did her doctoral work at the UI and taught at ISU so the audience was filled with people she knew from around town (her daughter, Lucy Silag, is in the IWW).  She read two passages from her new book, Private Life, including one about a charcter named Pete who was inspired by a Russian man who bid on the right to be a character in her book (a racing thoroughbred charity benefitted from the auction).  She told a lot of funny stories about living in Iowa City or working at Iowa State (she pled the 5th when asked if Moo was based on ISU - she said that Moo was inspired by the idiosyncracies of the land-grant university).

Great Jane quotes: "Wikipedia is great for authors because it's often "wrong"...characters must have a point-of-view" and "You can have a favorite horse because the other horses don't care".

She also signed books after her talk:

[Now, I bet you're wondering why there's only this picture here - my computer crashed and lost all the pictures from this day, none were terribly dear, but it makes me mad just the same.  So I have author quotes instead of pictures.]

After getting A Thousand Acres signed I wandered around among the vendors, publishers, and groups set up outside.  I didn't last long because the heat and sun started bothering me so I retreated to the bagel place for lunch and something cold to drink.

I went to the yarn shop instead of back to the festival (I know - naughty).  I was looking for something to use to knit the DNA helix pattern Christina wants me to teach her when we're at Conclave.  I found some pretty Noro Kureyon at The Knitting Shoppe:

I was captured by this single odd-ball skein.  I'm thinking one won't be enough for a cable knit scarf so I found two skeins of this other colorway and there's enough overlap between the three that I can put the odd-ball skein between the other two and make a scarf. Yay!

And then I had to go to work (boo) - but I had a lot of fun at the book festival!

*Whoah, my bad, I had Dublin listed as a City of Literature, it's not - I meant Edinburgh, Scotland, and it was the first one!  Thanks to Lizzy for catching that one! :)


  1. Anonymous12:37 AM

    Don't forget Edinburgh - the first (and possibly wettest) UNESCO City of Literature ...

  2. @Lizzy - Ack!!!! I am incorrect - Edinburgh *was* the first CoL, not Dublin; I will go fix that in the post. Thanks for catching it!!! :)

  3. Thanks for mentioning me in your post! I enjoyed Audrey Niffennegger's talk and have never really heard of Jane Smiley, but since you enjoyed her so much I'll have to check her out. That yarn is beautiful.

  4. Sounds like a great event. I just finished A Thousand Acres and I would have loved to hear Smiley speak.