Staff Recommendations For The Book Fair's 30th Year

Nov 22, 2013


The 30th anniversary of the Miami Book Fair International is upon us. In honor of this great event, our tireless staff has gone through the Fairgoer's Guide and each picked out what he or she won't be missing this year.

Please share what you'll be looking forward to in the comments. Maybe we'll run into each other at the WLRN booth.

An Evening With Pat Conroy and Cassandra King 
Tuesday, Nov. 19, 6 p.m., Chapman Conference Center (Building 3, Room 3210) 
$15 per ticket
"There is no fixing a damaged childhood. The best you can hope for is to make the sucker float," wrote Pat Conroy in "The Prince of Tides." The best-selling author has made a career out of exploring his tortured past in his fiction, most notably in "The Great Santini," where Conroy tackled the subject of his abusive, fighter-pilot father. During this year's Miami Book Fair, Conroy will discuss his memoir, "The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son." As a longtime fan of Conroy's, I can't wait to hear how he managed to build such elegant, sturdy watercraft from the debris of his sad childhood. 
-- Christine DiMattei, Anchor/Reporter

An Evening With Sherman Alexie
Tuesday, Nov. 19, 8 p.m., Chapman Conference Center (Building 3, Room 3210) 
$15 per ticket
I first fell in love with Sherman Alexie's work when I was studying creative writing in graduate school. One of my professors assigned his short-story collection, "The Toughest Indian in the World," and I've been hooked ever since. Alexie's work takes a hard look at this country's treatment of Native Americans with literary dexterity that blows me away as a reader. I call his work "gut-punch writing" because you're reading what you think is a nice story, and then all of a sudden it turns. Something happens that stops you in your tracks, something you never saw coming that makes you pause to take a breath before you can continue reading.
-- Marva Hinton, Anchor/Reporter

Lawrence Wright on "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief" 
Saturday, Nov. 23, 11:00 a.m., Chapman Conference Center (Building 3, Room 3210)
Free with admission, but ticketed

You'd be hard-pressed to find a journalist tackling tougher subject matter than Lawrence Wright. He won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for his book "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11." His follow-up book, "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief," is a fleshed-out version of one of my all-time-favorite New Yorker pieces. Wright centers his story on director Paul Haggis ("Crash," "Million Dollar Baby") and gives a surprisingly nuanced look at Scientology -- both the forces that drew a talented young director in and then fought to keep him from getting out. Equally interesting was Wright's experience reporting on Scientology for the New Yorker -- i.e. trying to apply the New Yorker's famously thorough fact-checking process to the infamously secretive world of Scientology.
-- Kenny Malone, Reporter

Meg Cabot on "The Bride Wore Size 12"
Saturday, Nov. 23, 11:00 a.m., Room 8201 (Building 8, 2nd Floor)
Free with admission
I haven't been to the Miami Book Fair. I grew up in Broward County so as a kid I went to book fairs in my school. But I'm going this year because I'm fan girling over Meg Cabot. I'd like to see her in person as a favor to my past YA-binge days. Her plots are exciting to read, and the romance situations between characters sometimes makes you cringe empathically. We have all been there. I've been hooked on her writing since "All-American Girl." 
-- Stefania Ferro, Public Insight Network analyst

D.T. Max, Stanley Crouch, Elizabeth Winder, Greg Bellow 
Saturday, Nov. 23, 1  p.m.,  Building 7, Room 7128
Free with admission
I do not want to miss this panel about four fascinating and sometimes tragic cultural figures, only one of whom survived into old age: D.T. Max on David Foster Wallace, legendary jazz writer Stanley Crouch on Charlie Parker (he once made a plastic saxophone sound like magic), Elizabeth Winder on Sylvia Plath, and Greg Bellow, Saul Bellow's son, on his dad.
-- Alicia ZuckermanEditorial director

Doris Kearns Goodwin on "The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism," and A. Scott Berg on "Wilson" 
Saturday, Nov. 23, 1:30 p.m., Chapman Conference Center (Building 3, 2nd Floor, Room 3210) 
Free with admission, but ticketed
Biographies can be stuffy, boring, black-and-white facts about mostly dead people. But A. Scott Berg puts color on the cheeks of his newest subject, Woodrow Wilson. Berg dusts off a piece of American history, breathing life into the former President, shedding light on the triumph and fallibility that comes with being human. He will talk with Doris Kearns Goodwin, whose book "The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism" takes a look at the early days of the Progressive era and ends up painting a picture of a social and political world not very different than the one we see today. 
-- Wilson Sayre, Reporting fellow

She takes her history seriously, but she brings to it a sensitivity and a sense of humor. Doris Kearns Goodwin is a frequent guest on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Cobert Report" And she never fails to bring the anecdote that didn't quite make it into the book. This year, she discusses her latest work -- The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism. Described as a dynamic history of the first decade of the Progressive era, that tumultuous time when the nation was coming unseamed and reform was in the air. Says Pulitzer Prize winner Goodwin, "I'd better like the subjects I chose to write about, because I generally spend seven years of my life with them." 
--Kelley Mitchell, Anchor/Reporter

Walter Mosley on "Little Green: An Easy Rawlins Mystery," in conversation with author and NPR’s “voice of books,” Alan Cheuse
Saturday, Nov. 23, 2:00 p.m., Auditorium (Building 1, 2nd Floor, Room 1261) 
Free with admission
My recommendation is to see me introduce mystery writer Walter Mosley at . He will be discussing his latest, "Little Green" with NPR’s Alan Cheuse. I heard a wonderful piece on Mosley by Karen Grigsby Bates for NPR’s Code Switch earlier this year. He talks about how his native Los Angeles has changed over the years, and how the change is irresistible. Even people who don’t move are, in fact, living in  new neighborhoods because they are likely to have an entirely fresh set of neighbors. 
-- Terence Shepherd, News director

Mitch Albom, Dave Barry, Sam Barry, Roy Blount, Jr., Ted Habte-Gabr, Greg Iles, Ridley Pearson, Amy Tan, Scott Turow, James McBride on "Hard Listening: The Greatest Rock Band Ever (of Authors) Tells All" 
Saturday, Nov. 23, 3:00 p.m., Chapman Conference Center (Building 3, 2nd Floor, Room 3210)
Free with admission, but ticketed
There's some hard listening in store as select members of The Rock Bottom Remainders, a band occasionally comprised of such acclaimed musicians (not) as Dave Barry, Amy Tan, Ridley Pearson, Mitch Albom and more, tell tales of what happened when they and other famed authors entered their fantasy life as rock stars. I'd take out my earplugs for this. The band is not playing, but here's a sampling on YouTube: 1) Stephen King and cohorts in earlier years:  2) Allegedly the band's last performance on Craig Ferguson in August of 2012. (starts at 34:25)
-- Laura Coburn, Awards coordinator

The Miami Poetry Collective
Credit via Miami New Times

Assembly Required: A Reading by the Miami Poetry Collective 

Saturday, Nov. 23, 4:00 p.m., Room 8202 (Building 8, 2nd Floor) 
Free with admission
I know embarrassingly little about poetry. But here's the thing: many of the best experiences I've had at the book fair involve wandering into one of the poetry panel sessions. It's how, last year, I first experienced the emotional gut-punch of Richard Blanco's very moving poetry. And a few years before that, how I ended up with a commissioned poem about a turducken (which now gets read at my Thanksgiving table). Trust me, in one of the lulls between brand-name authors, go nourish your soul at a poetry reading.
-- Sammy Mack, Reporter 

Transforming Community: Jennifer Bradley, Anthony M. Townsend, Steve Rothschild and Darrell Hammond

Sunday, Nov. 24, 11:00 a.m., Room 8202 (Building 8, 2nd Floor)
Free with admission
The conversation I'm looking forward to is more for the topic and the background of the speakers as opposed to their books. The panel includes Darrell Hammond, who founded KaBOOM!, an organization that has built thousands of playgrounds around the country to salvage play and community playspaces. 
-- Elaine Chen, Interactivity producer

Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women
Sunday, Nov. 24, 12:30 p.m., Centre Gallery (Building 1, Room 1365)
Free with admission
Good design is really important. Especially because I still like books made out of paper. Lately, I find myself judging books by their covers. Books with interesting fonts, good art, and an aesthetically-thoughtful layout are more likely to get my attention and make me want to stick with them for a while. So even though I'm not typcially a comics fan (I don't dislike comics, I just don't feel strongly about them one way or the other), this year the comic writers are calling out to me. Comics are half-design and half-storytelling. I'm curious about the Confessional Comics by Jewish Women panel. Maybe I'll find some caricature of myself. (In conjuncton with an exhibition at the Jewish Museum of Florida)
-- Alicia ZuckermanEditorial Director


Blowing Up the Page: Andrew Kaufman on "I’m in Miami, Bitch!: Street Art of Wynwood"

Sunday, Nov. 24, 4:30 p.m., Centre Gallery (Building 1, 3rd Floor, Room 1365) 
Free with admission
We've seen it on T-shirts all over Miami: "I'm in Miami B***h!" It's an unlikely wardrobe choice for the book fair, yes. But you'll catch the infamous phrase on the cover of Miami-based photographer Andrew Kaufman's new book "I'm in Miami B***h: The Disappearing Street Art of Wynwood." It documents the evolution of Wynwood's street art, where the only constant is change thanks to Art Basel. "There is no way to preserve street art except to photograph it before it fades, is toyed with, buffed or written over," notes Kaufman on the book's website.
-- Julia Duba, Morning producer

Street Fair 
Fri., Nov. 22 - Sun., Nov. 24: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Free on Friday, Nov. 22. $8 for adults, $5 for children 13 to 18 years old and seniors 62 or older on Saturday, Nov. 23 and Sunday, Nov. 24.
I'll never leave Miami. But I love Brooklyn. So perusing the borough's indie titles at Akashic Books' tent is a must for me. My love for Akashic may have been heightened when I met former Hole guitarist and "Letters to Kurt" (yes, Cobain) author Eric Erlandson at the tent last year. He'd just returned from spiritual travels in the Far East, and was sheepishly asking his publisher to display a stack of his books.
-Maria Murriel, Digital editor