Printers’ Row Literary Festival

by | Jun 15, 2017

In addition to presenting Sunday morning on a panel with some outstanding authors (Patty Toht, Brittany Jacobs, Celia Perez, Wendy Brant) and host Esther Hershenhorn, I also went to a few sessions on Saturday. They were on such a wide range of topics, and none of them were about writing for kids, which made me feel very pleasantly simulated, intellectually, I mean.

  Before I went to those session I checked out all the tents, including the one for Chicago Review Press, who published Alexandra the Great. You might not be able to see it, but Rachel   Alexandra is in front of and a little to the right of the yellow book standing up.

I went to a session on biography, where author Joe Starita (Warrior of the People) said something along the lines of, “your job as a writer is to reduce the distance from the reader’s eye and the page, to the point where you get them sitting in the buggy with [in his case, his subject is Susan La Flesche] in the snow and under a bear skin rug.” He also said, “the DNA of a good story lies in concrete, specific details.” The other author, Mary Wisniewski, wrote Algren: A Life, a very Chicago-focused biogrpahy of poet and champion of the downtrodden, Nelson Algren. Coincidentally, her book also was published by Chicago Review Press, as was mine!!

The next session I went to was a panel on the genre of romance. Did you know that romance books account for 34% of the paperback market. Let me say that again … THIRTY-FOUR PERCENT!! Who knew? The authors were all three very engaging and I really enjoyed the lively discussion about how romances were feminist literature: written by women, for women, and about women. Move over, Betty Friedan! I totally agree with this position and have been trying to speak up for romances in my own life. Yes, they are formulaic, but so are adventure stories, like DaVinci Code and the like. Sometimes we need that kind of reading in our lives and I will apologize for it no longer. Plus I discovered three new favorite authors:

And the third session I went to was a food podcast recording called Chewing, by two food writers. They had as their guest a guy who wrote the book Dirt is Good:The Advantage of Germs for Your Childrens’ Developing Immune System. I got there late so I don’t know which author it was, but I learned so much about the microbiome. Not only about the importance of bacteria, but having viruses and fungi in your system too. Take away? Eat more fermented foods, which includes chocolate and also kimchi, sauerkraut and kefir. 

Books on sale, stacked on a table

Alexandra the Great book cover

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