Saturday, March 20, 2010

VaBook10: Short Takes 3

On the Third Day of the Virginia Festival of the Book, I found authors in unexpected places.

Attending a session in City Council Chambers called "The Business of Book Reviewing: Changes and Challenges," I caught up with Kristin Swenson, a religious studies professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who is currently a visiting fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities in Charlottesville. I had missed Swenson's presentation on Wednesday about her new book, Bible Babel: Making Sense of the Most Talked About Book of All Time, and thought I had also missed any opportunity to interview her. Fortunately, in asking a question of the panel from the audience, she identified herself by name and I was able to approach her after the program ended to ask her to say a few words about her book.

In addition to a favorable review of Bible Babel by Michael Dirda in The Washington Post, Swenson was profiled in this week's edition of The Hook.

Here is what she said on Friday afternoon:
One of the panelists discussing the business of book reviewing was novelist Katharine Weber, who also has a new book, called True Confections.  She describes it better than I can, as about "race and chocolate and a family business":
Another discussant -- actually the moderator -- on the book reviewing panel was Bethanne Patrick, who is also one of the four guest bloggers for the Virginia Festival of the Book. Bethanne is herself a book reviewer and author of An Uncommon History of Common Things, of Native American Languages, and of a biography of Ulysses S. Grant (focusing on his childhood), as well as a similar book about Abraham Lincoln.

I asked Bethanne to give her assessment of the Festival so far; her enthusiasm shines through her response:
Following the book reviewing panel discussion, I hurried down Market Street through Preston Avenue to Barracks Road (and never making a turn; Charlottesville streets are like that) to attend a presentation by Jag Bhalla at Barnes & Noble about his book, I'm Not Hanging Noodles on Your Ears and Other Intriguing Idioms From Around the World. The Russian expression, "I'm not hanging noodles on your ears," is the equivalent of the English idiom, "I'm not pulling your leg." Bhalla has collected about 1,000 such idioms from ten languages.
Saturday promises to be a busy day at the Festival, with programs beginning in the morning and lasting until early evening.

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