The Celebration of Booksellers luncheon was a morale booster for me. I
know that bookstores (and libraries) play an important role one the
lives of the community. My life was greatly improved by my first
library card at the age of eight. And bookstores have long been my
preferred haunting places throughout my life. But this luncheon cut
into my chance to meet Garry Trudeau. I missed him my five minutes. Oh
well, there was plenty more waiting for me.
Granta discussion on sex writing.
The main reason for my attending this panel was the chance to hear
Mark Doty speak. It could have been a lecture on the study of flues
for binding books; and if it said Mark Doty would speak, then I had to
be there. Mark Doty is an AMAZING poet. Find his books and see how
masterful his use of language truly is. Dog lovers will want to pick
up a copy of DOG YEARS to see this man write with wisdom and passion.
But Mark didn't show. To his credit, Granta editor, John Freeman took
full responsibility for Mark's absence. Of the four expected panelists
Jennifer Egan and John Freeman adeptly held court. My I initial
disappointment was eased by the converstion between the two. Jennifer
discussed the inherent problems of writing about sex. The risks of
becoming pornographic, erotica or merely sex education are to be
avoided. Egan relates that she "stays located in the character's
perspective" rather writing about one's reaction to sex.
The discussion also pointed out the problem of writing about sex is
language. We stumble over the awkwardness of words. But Egan insisted
that we must "forget about language and deal with the character's
Freeman made the statment that "there's a transaction to sex." (Hence
the cover art to Granta issues #110 — their first issue dedicated to
sex. ISBN 9781905881161) That statement about transaction keeps
whirling about my brain.
Egan also commented that when you write about sex "you have to go at
things from a literal way, not directly."
Jennifer Egan's new book is VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD in which she
says therehis no sex. If she writes as well as she speaks then her
books will be worth the read.
The next panel discussion I attended was in the same room as the sex
talk. (go ahead and giggle). I apologize for not having the names of
all the panelists. My papers are at home and I'm writing this on the
plane to Louisville. But Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan of apartmenttherapy.com
and Melissa Clark of the New York Times were among those present.
The editor of Fine Cooking (Meg) was the moderator. The discussion
bounced around from the end of cookbooks to blogging to ipads to
recipe websites. It was a lively time and I left with a sense of a
world in transition. Would you use a computer in your kitchen instead
of a cookbook? Or an ipad? Food is important to me. I love to cook.
The preparation is half the fun. This talk just reassured menthat
there's plenty for me to explore. Online and in books.
The plan has landed and I'll end this here. Monday, when I'm back in
touch with the world I'll sum up my impressions of BEA.
Stanley John Hadsell