Literary Happening: Brooklyn Book Festival 2013

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The Brooklyn Book Festival is the largest free literary event in New York City, presenting an array of national and international literary stars and emerging authors. One of America’s premier book festivals, this hip, smart diverse gathering attracts thousands of book lovers of all ages to enjoy authors and the festival’s lively literary marketplace. 

With over 200 different stalls from indie publishers, authors, literary organizations such as the Jane Austen Society and the Kurt Vonnegut Library; as well as booths selling literary style clothes, book marks, and other book needs. Then, there were panels throughout the day accompanied by author signings. Open from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM, there was just not enough time to do everything, see every booth, and meet every author. Sacrifices had to be made.

This year, the festival took place on September 22nd. This was my second time going, but my first getting everything out of it and more. I went with three of my friends, one being the awesome blogger Christine at Readerly Musings.

My did we have fun. Christine and I got there long before my other friends, allowing us to listen to the first ever YA panel on the main stage with Francesca Lia Block, David Levithan, and Lauren Myracle where they discussed banned books, the effect it has on the authors, and the people who defend their work. It was nice to hear an author’s perspective on the ridiculousness that is the banning of books. Which was even better, in my opinion, was that all three of them have been banned before, coincidentally on the same year. I got to understand what it takes emotionally to withstand such negative reactions and press. Lauren Myracle even said she got many e-mails asking her if she was a pedophile and the like.

What was nice, was how they spoke about the people that would go to battle for them: the librarians who wanted to keep their books on the shelves, the teachers who believed the books were important to their curriculum and should not be regarded as something vile and banned worthy.

David Levithan told a nice story how he met some parents who would leave his book, Boy meets Boy, by their son’s bed or on the table to say they know he’s gay and it’s ok. Of course, some of the sons went the “passive aggressive way” as Levithan put it and left the book so there parents could see. Lauren Myracle had a heart-warming story, too, about a concerned father not from what she wrote, but asking for advice to connect to his teenager daughter, and thanked her. I would say best first panel I went to.

Following that panel, each author was available for signings. Unfortunately, my photos did not upload so I can’t show you the pretty author pictures, but rest assured they exist. I had David Levithan (my second favorite YA writer) sign his latest book Two Boys Kissing and the tenth anniversary edition of Boy meets Boy. To say I was fan girling it with him would be very apt. I gushed. And, Francesca Lia Block signed her latest book Love in the Time of Global Warming. This was all new to me since last year I wasn’t really aware authors were available for signings. 

It was tough to make it to all of the stalls, but Christine and I covered almost all of them. And, I left stumbling with all my bags filled with books. (Another post on that to come).

I finally got to meet poet and writer Tao Lin. He was definitely unfazed by being an author/public figure a person would want to meet. He shrugged A LOT, which I find both delightful and disarming. He was kind enough, beyond kind really, to give me a copy of his first book of poetry you are a little bit happier than i am that I have wanted for a long time. I couldn’t believe he did that. So, I delightfully devoured it in one sitting (only 72 pages, but still).

To say I had a great time would be an understatement. I spent too much money, my arms hurt from carrying my boatload of books, and I spent too much money. I am happy with every single purchase I made. I just couldn’t resist and don’t mind. Thankfully, this is only a once a year thing or I really will be broke with no shelf space.

After Reading this book: You are a Little Bit Happier Than I Am by Tao Lin

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you are a little bit happier than i am

By Tao Lin

Released: November, 2006 by Acton Books

Length: 72 pages

Genre: Poetry

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired by author

 

I don’t quite know what to say about this short book of poetry. Wow isn’t completely apt enough. Intense, funny, self-deprecating, and heart breaking, maybe if you mix it together. Throw all those adjectives into a blender and you have Tao Lin’s you are a little bit happier than i am. I couldn’t stop reading this. I read it on a bus ride. I got a few looks when I laughed hard. Sometimes not even because of the content of the poem, but by the title. Some of my favorite titles (not necessarily the poem itself) are: i want to pour orange juice on my face, poems that look weird, pessimism or robotics?, and possibly my all time favorite- book reviewers always praise books as “life-affirming” because the more humans there are on earth the better.

This collection just made me happy, and sad when it ended. I loved his second book of poetry Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that I read first. That was just as unique as this little gem. The way Lin writes his poetry is not in a form we typical read There is something so organic about them. Although he doesn’t capitalize anything like e.e. cummings did, there is no other poet around that writes like Lin, can emulate Lin, and capture a realness that Lin does. Not all of his poems make sense, hence why they are just so great. He just doesn’t care.

I met Lin this past Sunday at the Brooklyn Book Festival, and he basically shrugged at everything I said. Not in a mean way, though. Just, in a way where he just didn’t care. I admire him for that, but also want to shake him because he did agree to do a signing. The least he can do is be a little more forth coming, right? Well, he gave me this gem. And, I will forever be grateful. I have had this book on my goodreads shelf since I joined over three years ago. And, he just gave me his copy that he was reading! Took out his bookmark, post-it, and handed it to me, with a shrug for good measure. I was shocked. No other author I think would do that. He just said he had more copies. Makes up for his shrug and lack of empathy.

I would say I would highly recommend this collection, and I would, but it isn’t for everyone. The poems are not traditional. More stream of conscious writing, if that is even close to what it is. You really have to have an open mind; no real comparisons at the ready. You really will never read a poet quite like him, I think. At least, I haven’t. I haven’t read all poetry, but I can tell you his is the most entertaining because it all seems like one big shrug now that I met him. And, I love that. I respect him for not caring, but caring a lot if the two go together.

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