We're back from Sunday's West Hollywood Book Fair, an entertaining (albeit hot) day of bookish types. The WeHo fair is a bit like the tatty little cousin of the L.A. Times Book Festival but there's a slovenly charm to the whole thing, and the parking is free. The outdoor pavillions are lovely in theory, and even pleasant in practice if you're fortunate enough to nab a shady seat. In the sun, however, was a different story as panel after panel was punctuated by the sound of balloons popping in the heat, sending the more paranoid among us running for cover. Herewith, a brief photo sampling with attendant impressions:
The Short and Short of It: Writing the Short Story: l. to r., Tod Goldberg, Cheryl Klein, Holiday Reinhorn, Charles Yu and moderator Adreana Robbins. Tod appears to be suppressing his chagrin at another ridiculous question from Robbins. (Our notes from this panel read: "Tod has a knack for giving great answers to stupid questions.")
How to Get a Literary Agent? l. to r. Ken Sherman (moderator), B.J. Robbins, Michael Candejas. As usual, the How to Get an Agent panel had the largest crowds of the day:
And it's noteworthy that novelists appeared to outnumber screenwriters in this crowd by about three to one. Impressions: Sherman turned in one of the most startlingly rude performances we've ever seen from a moderator, and we learned that Robbins is apparently recovering from a bout of West Nile Virus. Their advice? You've heard it all - do your homework, write a clean query, the writing is what counts. Nothing new under the sun. Other than Sherman, with a straight face, touting his client John Updike's latest, Terrorist, as a terrific read.
Plenty of booths and vendors to take your money, the usual suspects including Book Soup, Skylight and the Bodhi Tree. Comics types will be pleased to note the presence of a dedicated Comics section.
Sibling Writerly: Tales from the Goldberg Siblings. l. to r., Lee Goldberg, Karen Dinino, Stacey Bierlein (moderator), Tod Goldberg, Linda Woods. We would have made the trek down from the Palisades for no other reason than to kick it with the Goldbergs. Do they have their own theme song, we wondered, as they took the stage. We learned that Lee's impersonation of his wife's French accent makes her sound uncannily like Inspector Closeau; that Linda is the "quiet, shy" one (the George Harrison of the Goldbergs), and that the Goldbergs are in unanimous agreement that Tod had the worst hair in the 80s. A highlight was Tod's apoplectic paroxysm when we asked if the disdain of "theme" was a common Goldberg family trait.
(Overheard prior to the commencement of the Goldberg panel: Two elderly ladies, vacating their front row seats from the previous panel:
Old Lady 1: Shouldn't we wait for a minute? Maybe we'll want to stay.
Old Lady 2: (emphatically) We won't.)
From the History Repeating: On Writing Historical Fiction panel: Janis Cooke Newman, author of the recently released Mary (Macadam Cage) ...
... and Mark Z. Danielewski (wearing a "More Cowbell" t-shirt), caught in a moment dreaming of new ways to torture, um, bedevil his reader. The panel, moderated by Leslie Schwartz, was perhaps the most interesting of the day and touched on questions previously wrestled with here about genre distinctions and their meaning and value.
A lovely, literary Sunday in West Hollywood. And we even got to check out the really cool bathrooms in The Abbey ...