Saturday, September 5, 2015

Still Life With Robin: See You at the Book Fest

by Peggy Robin

One of the perks of living in the nation’s capital is that we get all the glories of the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress Book Festival – going on right now as I type this, ending at 10 PM. I’m posting this note quickly before running off to spend some time listening to a few favorite writers talk about their works, and maybe stumble across something unexpectedly great; that’s what can happen when you wander into a section featuring an author you may never have heard of before, who is reading from a novel you had no thought of buying, but now you will, because you’re hooked and want to find out what happens.

To make a literary discovery like that is one of the true joys of the Book Festival. But if that doesn’t happen to you, you can always go for the free bookmarks, pencils, stickers, mini-calendars, and sometimes even a totebag. There are over 170 authors, from all genres, including fiction, history, politics, pop culture, cooking, cartooning, photography, map-making, children’s lit, young adult....I’ll stop there but if you can think of another category, it’s a safe bet it’s at the Book Festival, too.

The National Book Festival is at the Washington Convention Center, and the directions on the Festival’s website tell you to take the Yellow/Green line Metro to Mt. Vernon Square/Convention Center, but for anyone living along the Red line it makes more sense to get out at Gallery Place and walk a few blocks north. Now we come to one of the real downsides to living in Washington, DC at this point in our city's history: you might think it makes sense to ride the Metro to a huge public event that is taking place across the street from a Metro station -- but have you taken the Metro on a weekend lately? Twenty minutes between trains…if they’re running at all. Stations closing down unexpectedly. Emergencies that no one seems equipped to handle. Intercoms that don’t work. Trains that don’t stop at the right point. You want to get a sense of how bad things have gotten, just go over to Twitter and scroll through a few recent Tweets from @UnsuckDCMetro

On second thought, I think I will Uber over….

Still Life With Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

1 comment:

  1. A quick follow-up on the transportation aspect.... I decided not to use Uber, but I wish I had! Twenty minutes wait time on the way there, no a/c in the car, and the announcements were all made at an ear-splitting and unintelligible volume. On the way back, there was a 27 minute wait for a train.

    No complaints about the Book Festival itself. All panels were well-run and interesting. A few of the ones I was most interested in had rooms full to capacity, so by the time I arrived from a previous session elsewhere, they could not admit anyone else. So I missed David McCollough on the Wright Brothers. That's OK, I'm a Glenn Curtis partisan, anyway.

    Best of the Fest, from my perspective was NPR's book critic Maureen Corrigan, on the glories of The Great Gatsby. I'm all set to re-read it with fresh eyes.