FESTIVAL O READING: This weekend is the literary equivalent of a weenie roast for book lovers.
The 16th Annual St. Petersburg Times Festival of Reading brings 50 authors to town for talks, signings and we assume mucho book sales.
The schedule spreads 10 authors at a time through several venues on the Poynter Institute and University of South Florida campuses. This could be frustrating, so plan accordingly. If you want to see Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River, and your beloved wants to see Orchid Thief author Susan Orlean, then you might come to blows because they are booked at the same time. When in doubt, we suggest therapy.
Its a great lineup, and here are some of the people were looking forward to seeing:
Rick Bragg is here to talk about his latest book, The Prince of Frogtown (Knopf, $24). After writing about his mother (All Over but the Shoutin) and the grandfather he never knew (Avas Man), Bragg turns his attention to his father, who abandoned his wife and three young sons. It's another heart-wrenching masterpiece and Bragg, a natural storyteller, is almost as much fun to listen to as to read. Arrive early for good seating. Before he won a Pulitzer for the New York Times "for his elegantly written stories of contemporary America," Bragg was a St. Petersburg Times reporter.
Sandra Tsing Loh is like Erma Bombeck on speed. Her book Mother on Fire (Crown, $23) has the subtitle "A True Motherf%#[email protected] Story About Parenting." Writing humor is a serious business, and Loh is hilarious, taking aim at over-protective yuppie moms, the cult of the "gifted" child and the intricacies of the modern marriage. We might want to go to her session just to see the woman behind the wild persona...