More on the Festival of Books…
While I was more interested in the authors on the previous panel, the final panel for Saturday ended up stealing the show (at least for Saturday…my favorite-est panel was actually on Sunday). I cannot give enough credit to the moderator, Veronique de Turenne, who, after introductions, started off by having each author read the first sentence of their latest book. From there, she encouraged dialogue between the panelists, so it ended up being less of a question and answer session and more of a conversation. Also, the authors’ personalities really came out in this panel.
So…who was there?
Gina Nahai – Gina was born in Iran, but left for boarding school in Switzerland, followed by college in California. Due to the Iranian Revolution, she has never been back. She teaches at USC (in the writing program) and has written 4 (I think) books, as well as numerous articles. She also has degrees in international relations and has worked as a consultant for the Rand Corporation. This woman is no dummy. Her latest book is Caspian Rain, and I have it on order from Powells…I can’t wait to read it!
Jean Hanff Korelitz – Jean is the author of Admission, which you may have noticed is making the rounds lately. I’m not very interested in the book, but I will admit to loving the cover…it has a large A entwined with ivy. She spoke about how she worked as an admissions reader at Princeton (I think that’s the right college…someone correct me if I’m wrong) to prepare for writing her book.
Andrew Sean Greer – author of The Confessions of Max Tivoli and The Story of a Marriage. I had never heard of Andrew prior to this panel, but he was so entertaining and funny that I later bought his book (The Story of a Marriage, not the other one). At one point, who spoke about the writing advice he had received from Janet Fitch (something along the lines of make every sentence count or have a purpose, although I know I’m saying that all wrong).
Janet Fitch – author of White Oleander and Paint It Black. I loved White Oleander, so that was the main reason I ended up at this panel. Janet Fitch teaches at USC with Gina Nahai, and it’s obvious that she knows Andrew Greer, so the interaction between the authors was so fun to watch. They were all comfortable with each other, despite their different personalities. Janet Fitch sounds (and too a certain extent acts and even dresses) like she is still in the early ‘80’s (at one point she even used the word groovy, and it was just too perfect coming out of her mouth). In contrast, Gina Nahai is very cosmopolitan and outspoken, Andrew was a bit twitchy (but still delightful) and Jean Korelitz was just going with the flow. Honestly, I had so much fun listening to them that this is the only thing I wrote down (except for notes on what books they had each written):
Janet Fitch about place:
You see what is there. You see what was there. And you see what your mom said was there.
Do you think that is true? I do. She was talking about Los Angeles, since she grew up there…that when she walks down the street, she sees the present and the past…and not just her own past, but the past that her mother has told her about. And since the rest of the hour is somewhat of a blur (no notes, end of a long day), I’ll leave you with that interesting observation.