Fall for the Book Gearing Up for Biggest Year Ever

Posted: September 16, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Stephanie Hay

Fall for the Book logo

The sixth annual Fall for the Book festival, running Saturday, Sept. 18, through Thursday, Sept. 23, is promising more than 100 events and bringing together more than 130 writers. In a span of six days, festival-goers can learn about antiques, cooking, cars, cowboys, feminism, history, improv, music, poetry, politics, publishing, race issues, scrapbooking, scriptwriting, singing, and yoga, among other topics. And yes, there will be books.

“Fall for the Book isn’t just about literary writing or artfulness,” says Bill Miller, who directs the festival and the graduate writing program in the English Department. “It’s about anything that can appear between the covers of books. And that’s pretty much everything. And everything is what we’ve got.”

The free, weeklong celebration of literature began six years ago but has been met with three years of seemingly fated setbacks: the events of Sept.11 in 2001, the sniper attacks in 2002, and Hurricane Isabel in 2003. “Barring any major earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, we should be good to go this year,” Miller says. “The quality of authors and programming continues to grow, and, combined with the help of our volunteers and generous partnerships and publicity, we’re planning for a big success this year.”

Tobias Wolff
Tobias Wolff

A family fun day kicks off the festival on Saturday, with music, games, discussions, food and presentations from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tobias Wolff, winner of the 2003 Fairfax Prize, returns to accept his prize and read from his work-the event was “hurricaned out,” last year, Miller says. Wolff, speaking at 8:15 p.m. in Harris Theatre, follows local Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Edward P. Jones, who will read from his novel, The Known World, at 7 p.m.

Edward Jones
Edward Jones

Sunday’s events in Fairfax are devoted to the new All Fairfax Reads project, which the festival started with the Fairfax Public Library. The inaugural text is To Kill a Mockingbird, and the programming includes reenactments and discussions. Feminist author and indie icon Michelle Tea, journalist Jack Germond, and the College of Arts and Sciences Celebration of Scholarship dinner and lecture featuring Mason’s Debra Bergoffen highlight Monday’s events.

Tuesday features George Mason alumni Liam Callanan and Caroline Kettlewell, followed by presentations by Mark Satin, XM Radio’s Bob Edwards, and NPR’s “Book Guys” Allan Sypeck and Mike Cuthbert. Hispanic Heritage Month Keynote Speaker Lalo Alcaraz rounds out the day’s events.

Wednesday features the poetry of several authors and readings by award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson and best-selling author Jill McCorkle. Thursday features the Finley Lecture by Mason’s Roger Wilkins on the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. Cornel West speaks on “the arrested development of democracy” and discusses his latest book, Democracy Matters.

Joyce Carol Oates, the 2004 Fairfax Prize winner, reads from her latest work after the Fairfax Prize Reception to close the festival on Thursday, Sept. 23.

Visit the www.fallforthebook.org official web site for details and a complete schedule of activities.

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