Day one of the Texas Book Festival was marked by sunny skies and excited crowd members of all ages. The festival took place in and around the Capitol building and featured vendors, delicious food, musicians and of course authors. With every type of author present from prestigious non-fiction authors to children’s writers, there was something for everyone to attend.
I began my day at the C-Span 2/Book TV tent where I listened to a discussion called “Where We Went Wrong.” The conversation, about the state of the union and our nation’s economy, was held between George Packer author of “The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America” and Erica Grieder author of “Big, Hot, Cheap, and Right: What America Can Learn from the Strange Genius of Texas.” Both authors are also journalists who wrote their books as a way to break the traditional mold of journalism. Their discussion was centered on what we need to improve on in the U.S. and the various perspectives about Texas stereotypes. They engaged in playful jest about Texas politics. Packer joked, “Part of the success of Texas is that you’ve exported the worst politicians.”
Next I went to hear former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson speak about influential Texas women. Her presentation about her newest book “Unflinching Courage: Pioneering Women Who Shaped Texas” consisted of stories of strong women during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Though Hutchinson's talk was informative, it was best suited for history buffs.
Back at the C-Span tent I heard Howard P. Willens, Allen Childs and Hugh Aynesworth talk about the JFK assassination and the conspiracy theories surrounding the event. All three men are experts on the JFK assassination in their own respect: Anyesworth is the leading journalistic expert, Willens served on the Warrens commission and Childs was at the hospital Kennedy was brought to after the attack. A variety of panelists who do and don't believe the conspiracy theories made for a passionate discussion.
At the “For Your Next Book Club” discussion, Julie Kibler and Dianne Dixon offered useful tips about how to approach a book club. Both authors frequently attend book clubs over their novels. They gave insider info about the stylistic choices to look for and discuss in books. Kibler and Dixon encouraged book club members to reach out to authors since most will appreciate the support.
The final event I attended was “Families in Crisis.” Panelists Thomas Zigal, Mary Kay Zuravleff and Ben Dolnick, spent most of the session reading sections from their books: all of which addressed the idea of what constitutes family. Each book was intriguing in its own way, and all seemed like good reads. Most notable was Dolnick’s reading of “At the Bottom of Everything” where the entire room seemed captivated by his story of how people, in this case two old college friends, change overtime. The Q&A session after the readings then transformed into a conversation about the authors different approaches to writing their books.