Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

November 3, 2008

Book Festival 2008

Filed under: Austin,Music,Reading — Janice @ 11:46 pm

I went to the book festival Saturday. It is a wonderful experience and I am always surprised when Austinites are unaware of it. But maybe they are just not readers. The book festival is a FREE festival with authors speaking and panel discussions about books and writing and about the subjects of the books. There are books for sale and other things for sale. There is music and food. And the sessions all take place in the Capitol, which is the coolest thing. I love walking those long corridors and soaking in the sights and sounds that perhaps my great-grandparents and grandparents saw? They didn’t see that fabulous Capitol underground extension. That thing is a work of art.

Saturday I heard Alec Fouge, the  author of Right of the Dial about Clear Channel Radio. When he wrote his book, the company had their own paid author write their own view of the history of the company to be released at the same time. That author was also supposed to be at the festival which would have made for a truly interesting discussion, but that author canceled. I need to read the Fouge book. I have heard it is very even handed, but it also shows the problems of a company that big trying to remain true to its local audience.

I ate at the Capitol cafeteria Saturday, too, which was cool. Anyone can do it, any day it is open, but I never have. I would like to eat there on a day the Leg is in session. Though surely those guys go to Jeffrey’s or something for lunch, wouldn’t you think?

Later in the afternoon I went to stalk, I mean hear, my favorite author Sarah Bird. I guess I’m not alone in my adoration, the room was packed and I was lucky to have a seat. She started talking ten minutes before her time, had a door prize for someone in the room, and was willing to continue long past her scheduled time. She was quite political, doing a send up of Sarah Palin. My favorite line was when she used the classic Southerism “bless his heart” and then said, “And I mean that in the Aztec way . . .” indicating a still beating heart ripped out of a sacrificial chest. I didn’t speak to her because she had many ardent fans there to say hello.

What was a great delight and surprise to me was seeing a sort-of old friend at her session. Gianna came to the studio a couple of years ago when Billy Joe Shaver had a book published by the UT Press. Gianna was his “keeper” for the day (and, yes, he really has to have a keeper). I had just heard that day or the day before that Billy was engaged to be married. That certainly was going to be the first question I asked him. As we three made the long trip through the building to the studio, Billy was on the phone with his friend Robert DeNiro (my six degrees of separation with a movie star!!). Gianna leaned over and quietly said, “Don’t ask about the engagement, she broke it off.” I didn’t ask, but he volunteered a lot in a mumbly, bitter way. That was the day he played, “No Fool Like An Old Fool.”

Gianna remembered all those same details about that day and we discussed Billy Joe’s current legal difficulties and the hope that he makes it through all of that without conviction or at least without jail. She was just as cute and interesting as she was when I met her and it was neat to be back in touch. She is now back with Random House, Sarah’s publisher.

That was enough book festival for me for one year. I would have liked to have seen Robert Caro on Sunday because his LBJ biographies are brilliant, but I opted to stay home on Sunday to watch Cowboys (what a stupid choice that was!).

Book festival weekend always reminds me that I have had another year of writing my OTHER online journal, the one you won’t find by searching Janice Williams or anything obvious. When I first moved to Austin, I was reading some online journals of local characters. Somehow or another we had a meeting of journal writers and readers. I believe I was the only sole reader of the group, so the writers there encouraged me to start a journal (we weren’t really calling them blogs at that point, and it isn’t what I call a blog still). They directed me to sites that made it very easy to do (without having to have a domain or know how to do anything techy) and I’ve had that diary/journal/blog for 9 years now. It gets neglected a lot now that I’m writing here, but it is the more dull daily diary. It’s where I write things like “Rained this morning” or “Talked to my nephew.” Stuff I want to remember and know when I did it or how I felt about things, but not necessarily things the world needs to read.

I’ve had people puzzle over why I need an ONLINE diary as opposed to just a personal diary. Hard to explain that one, since I don’t really allow it to be public, but it is online and it is read by random people. I think it is because, since it is written for an audience of strangers, I sometimes have to make things more clear than I would in a personal diary. For instance, today in a personal diary I would note that my cousin Bobby Joyce’s husband Marshall passed away last night (yes, my sixth family member to die in the last year and my ninth funeral coming up Thursday). In a personal diary, that would be enough. In a diary I write for the public, I would go into more details about who Marshall is and how much we all loved him and his quiet, caring nature. He and Bobby have always been at my big family reunion that I go to and I will miss them both so much in years to come.

1 Comment »

  1. First, please accept my condolences for you and your family. You have all had a hard year. Let’s hope this is the last. Only good health and good times for a while!!

    Second, what an awesome experience at the Texas Book Festival. This sounds so much better than the “festivals” I knew….libraries setting up card tables on the lawn to sell their old, dusty, badly used & abused books! I’ll be watching for next year’s event!!

    The online diary is a great idea, too. It’s hard to share my “life” with the kids since they live 1,200 miles away. The blog and the website help, but they’d like something personal. I think the “diary” might be just the thing!!

    Don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t borrow (steal) your ideas! Just remember “mimicry IS the sincerest form of flattery”!! 🙂

    Comment by Carole — November 4, 2008 @ 2:50 pm

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