Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On the Eve of VaBook10

Tomorrow is the day logophiles have been waiting for.

No, not St. Patrick's Day, though the Irish are known for their ability to string words together in a mellifluous manner.

Wednesday is the first of five days of the Virginia Festival of the Book, which draws some 20,000 book lovers to Charlottesville in what might be the biggest book festival in the country.

Last week's cover story in The Hook highlighted the "sweet sixteen" programs that that newspaper's editors thought were most interesting.  (At first I thought the cover referred to the NCAA basketball tournament, but luckily I overcame being misled and read it anyway.)  Surprisingly -- or perhaps not -- none of The Hook's top picks are among mine.  That just goes to show the wide variety of authors and books that will be on display at the Festival -- a little something for everyone.

In the run-up to the book festival, WINA-AM's Coy Barefoot and his substitute host on Charlottesville Right Now, Jay James, have been interviewing authors who will be appearing here over the weekend.

On Monday, Coy interviewed Hendrik Hertzberg, who will be appearing on a panel with Richard Brookhiser at the Culbreth Theatre on Saturday, moderated by Bob Gibson of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia.  Hertzberg is the author, most recently of ¡OBÁMANOS!: The Rise of a New Political Era.  The prolific Brookhiser, who began writing for National Review as a teenager, is the author of Founding Father:  Rediscovering George Washington, and his memoir, Right Time, Right Place:  Coming of Age with William F. Buckley Jr. and the Conservative Movement.  Saturday's panel, entitled "A Conversation from Left and Right: With Hendrik Hertzberg and Richard Brookhiser," promises to be an intellectual feast.

On Tuesday's show, Coy interviewed local political activist David Swanson, who talked about a demonstration against an appearance of law professor John Yoo at the University of Virginia on Friday.  Swanson will also be speaking at a book festival event on Saturday, on the topic Where Does America Go from Here?  Swanson is the author of Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.

Also on Tuesday, Jay James interviewed VCU professor Kristin Swenson, who will be speaking on a panel at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday called Bible Babel and Holy Curiosity: Questions and Answers about the Bible. Swenson, who teaches religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, is the author of Bible Babel: Making Sense of the Most Talked About Book of All Time.

Last week, Coy interviewed Paul Gaston, professor emeritus of history at the University of Virginia, whose memoir of the civil-rights era, Coming of Age in Utopia, will be featured in a panel on Thursday called "Social Justice: The Power of Individuals."

As for me, I'm looking forward to Wednesday's noon panel at the UVA bookstore, featuring Jennifer Burns, author of Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, and Melvin Urofsky, author of Louis D. Brandeis: A Life. Urofsky also teaches at VCU, while Burns teaches history at UVA. Urofsky's book is reviewed in the April 2010 issue of Reason magazine by Damon W. Root. (That issue is not yet on line, but Root had a "Hit & Run" blog post on Urofsky's book last September.)  I have already read Burns' book, which was a real page-turner.  It was so interesting, I read every page -- including the footnotes, bibliography, and acknowledgments.

For a full schedule of events at the Virginia Festival of the Book, look here.  Most of the events are free and open to the public.Those with a gaming spirit might want to buy a raffle ticket in hopes of winning one of four exciting prizes; proceeds support the Festival and its programs.

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