Sunday, September 23, 2007

Brooklyn Book Festival 2007

The Brooklyn Book Fair was held on September 16 around and on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall and in a few nearby indoor venues, including my alma mater, St. Francis College. Beep Marty Markowitz, who I see every year more than my own reflection, was the ringmaster of the event. Over 100 stalls featuring small and larger booksellers were visited by 10,000 people. Markowitz said that they want to go to two days next year.

Two stages were setup for interviews and we saw Marty at the Borough Hall stage turn the tables and interview Dominic Carter, political reporter for NY1. Carter was promoting his book and answered questions the way Bill Bradley used to answer Marv Albert, with 15 minute responses. The subject matter is rough, Carter’s sexual abuse by his schizophrenic mother and his eventual success thanks to a loving grandma and a tenacious desire for higher education.

I parted with some cash to take advantage of the bargains. At One Story, a Park Slope publisher who puts out 18 issues for $21 annually, I bought a book for a buck. Actually it was one short story, a staple bound booklet containing The 217 Pound Dog by Arthur Bradford. One Story has the novel idea of bringing back the short story and this little tale by Bradford has more chuckles in 28 pages than the last three Ben Stiller movies.

At Brooklyn College’s [one of my sons goes there] table I chatted with an author/professor who writes for a U.K. firm with a U.S office. As I thumbed through his book I mentioned that I had several friends at the company. He went on a rant against his editor and I thought it must be pretty bad to reveal his complaints to a total stranger, save for the facts that I told him about my son and the friends at the company.

I was surprised to find out that my alma mater, St. Francis College, had a Creative Writing Program. I spoke with co-editor and professor Terry Quinn, who kindly signed my copy of From the Heart of Brooklyn: Volume Two a collection of stories, poems, and plays by the students of SFC. Special Festival price was $10. If Professor Quinn had been around in 1976, there would have been many happier students, who when requesting a class in Journalism were given another seminar in Milton. This was a joke that speech professor John Monaghan used to crack. Monaghan eventually taught that inaugural class in Journalism and it was the only time I got to be in the same class as my brother Dennis, the accounting major. The class was way overbooked, so it was for the best that Dennis missed a lot of the classes so someone else could sit down.

Graywolf Press of St. Paul, MN featured some very attractively designed covers, real eyecatchers. I picked up another $10 bargain, Pocketful of Names by Joe Coomer, a novel that is “a deeply human tale about the unpredictability of nature, art, family and the flotsam and jetsam that comprise our lives.” The main character is a young woman, so when Clare Danes is finished playing Shaw in NY this year, her agent might take a flyer on this.

Also spotted at the Festival: Michael Walker, pr maven for the AMNH, and young publishing marketer Samara Stob. These are personal acquaintances and I just wanted to let them know I couldn’t give a shout out there as I was sitting in the middle of the Marty Markowitz audience. We also saw Pete Hamill, or was it the guy from the Men’s Warehouse? Either way, he looked great in black, tieless, and seemed to be enjoying himself. Marty had the same getup on so I guess black is the new…black?

Much more to report but my editor says I’ve exceeded the 500 word limit where most people lose interest and go back to their AIM or email or surfing porn, so that’s all from me from the festival. We had a great time and look forward to the next year.


Dennis said...

The past gets blurrier as my 52nd birthday approaches. (Wait, it is past midnight, Sepember 24 is here. Happy birthday to me)! I am that brother, Dennis, who does not recall being in the same class as my younger brother, Brian. You are the Brian that went to St. Francis Prep and have a mother who is going strong at eighty-something, right? I know I had John Monaghan for a public speaking course; my first speech was about the month of September, and how it was sad in that it was the end of summer and the begining of school, but it was salvaged somewhat by my birthday. (Hey, did I mention that today was my birthday)? In closing, it is the happy 38th anniversary of the NY Mets clinching first place for the very first time, " 9:07..." on September 24 (my birthday), said Lindsey Nelson. Joe Torre (St. Francis Prepster) hit into a double play to end the game. Amen.

Brian said...

If you weren't in that Journalism class this would explain why I rarely saw you in it. It's possible you sat in one day for fun. I might be confusing you with one of your frat brothers. In my mind the story always was that you and the guys were tight with the professor [who was also your frat advisor] so you has worked out a deal where you didn't have to go to class. This was 30 years ago and maybe I dreamed it all up as memory goes from blurry to opacity.

Your card's in the mail. Did you know that Glavine has my birthday?

Dennis said...

I think Hubie Brooks has mine. Happy half birthday to you on 9/25!

Anonymous said...

Ah, my internet stalking has a, you were a frat brother AND a class-skipper? For shame! I am trying to write a modern art paper right now and I just made this blog progress is grinding to halt.