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Words, words, words August 29, 2008

Posted by LHK in Uncategorized.

Sadly, the biggest event in Atlanta during Labor Day weekend is not the Decatur Book Festival, nor is it Dragon*Con. Rather, it’s the Auburn-LSU game that happens at the Georgia Dome. I’ll have to look up the actual statistics on how many people attend each event, but last year, when I was riding the train over to the book festival, I was not met with the zombie costumes and “Han shot first” t-shirts I expected. Instead, I was caught in a clamor of orange and purple. College football fans with deep Southern accents, tracing their fingers over the grubby MARTA map and asking over and over if they should get off at Five Points. College football fans who gave up their seats to other college football fans, but who wouldn’t help the short girl standing in the middle of the train who didn’t have a vertical bar to hold onto, and whose arms were too short to reach the horizontal bars above the seats. Fortunately, I’ve got good balance, and perhaps I wasn’t wearing heels, so I was able to hold myself up on the ride from Lindbergh Center to the Five Points train-change hub.

Still, who would have thought that out-of-state football fans would rule this place on what’s otherwise a weekend of culture and nerdity?

Anyway, the Decatur Book Festival starts tomorrow, and I’m excited. Friday is all about the writing conference at Agnes Scott College. I didn’t sign up in time to get the workshop I wanted most (predictably, Writing Children’s Books, with Scholastic editor Cheryl Klein), but I did manage to get signed up for another workshop that has the words “petting zoo” in its title, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m looking forward to it, as well as the reception afterward, as well as the inevitable gotta-go-home-and-write urges that happen after any good writing workshop.

Saturday starts early, with Roy Blount Jr.’s program starting at 10 am. And then at some point, I have a volunteer shift at one of the “new and emerging writers” tents — not as a new or emerging writer, but rather as the person who rings up book sales for new and emerging writers.

After that I’m going to park myself at the children’s stage for a while. Mary Downing Hahn is going to be there! Remember Wait Til Helen Comes? Wasn’t that the creepiest book you ever read on the school bus, when you got yourself motion sick by reading for too long, but you just had to find out what happened when Helen came, even though you knew that it (and your stomach) wouldn’t be good? Wasn’t it so cool that the main character listened to her West Side Story soundtrack on her Walkman, JUST LIKE YOU DID? Oh man. That book. Mary Downing Hahn also wrote Daphne’s Book, which was also disturbing to me, but in a different way.

I haven’t quite worked out my Sunday schedule yet, except that I know I’m bringing my mom with me. She’s never been. But here’s the one thing I tell everyone about the book festival: every event there is entertaining. I don’t know how they do it. Maybe it’s just me, consumed by my own bookish giddiness, that takes me to readings by authors who usually make me grumble, and brings me out grinning. I don’t know. Anyway, I’ve gotta get some sleep before the Weekend o’ Bookish Delights begins in earnest.



1. burningsteady - August 29, 2008

I can still tell you exactly how the copy of Wait Til Helen Comes that I checked out of the school library a million times felt. It had that plastic-y cover on it, paper back. Scared the hell out of me. Am so glad that you’re attending this and that you’re back in my blogging life. (=

AWP in Chicago this year? Do it!

2. Joanna - August 29, 2008

OMG, I still have that book! Never heard anyone refer to it, either, so I’m excited 🙂

3. metaphile - August 29, 2008

Wow, Wait Til Helen Comes. I read that book over and over until it disintegrated. I then went on to devour Stepping on the Cracks and The Jellyfish Season…but none were quite the same. I still remember my younger cousin wanted to know what was so great about the book, so late at night during a sleep over I went into ridiculous detail and basically told her the novel. The next day her Mom called my Mom about those “scary ghost stories” I was telling her child. Sigh. Jenny the Corrupter.

Thanks for sharing, I ADORED that book. And it’s nice to know I wasn’t the only morbidly creepy fourth grader who couldn’t get enough. Soooo jealous of your literary weekend, I want to hear all about it 🙂

4. Nancy - August 29, 2008

I hope this isn’t too intrusive, but I read your post on Nathan’s blog about your basement and Faulkner. What a great story! I didn’t start reading Faulkner until I was in college. Since then, he’s been my favorite American writer.

We seem to have several things in common. More than just being writers, we both write YA novels. I finished my first one about a year ago, and it’s still unpublished. But it was such a ride. I’m working through some blocks with my second novel.

I also like your allusion to that song from Company. Here’s to the girls who just watch. Great.

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