On September 30th, 2007, I woke up from a very relaxing sleep to realize that I was late for the start of the last day of this year’s BBF. I had planned to make an early start of things in order to enjoy the readings of some of my friends and colleagues.
So I quickly got myself together and headed down to the festival. Fortunately, I was in time to hear most of the readings of Works in Progress, sponsored by Gregg Wilhelm’s CityLit Project and moderated by Paul Lagasse, MWAB’s President. Unfortunately, I missed the first reading by Edith Goldman of her work “Pan-delerium,” though I’m sure it was excellent.
Michael M. Hughes, a local horror writer, read an entertaining and funny piece called “Lunch Meeting.” Barabara Friedland read an excerpt from her upcoming novel A Member of the Force, based on the true story of a local murder case. Having heard and read earlier excerpts from the novel, it was wonderful to see that it is coming along so well. I think it could possibly become a Baltimore staple, one of those novels that people mention when they talk about Baltimore’s literary scene. Jen Michalsk’s reading of “The Movie Version of My Life,” from her short story collection Close Encounters, was another interesting read. It was, if memory serves correctly, my first introduction to her work.
Mathew Lee Gill’s novel excerpt “Broken Charm” was a telling piece about a shady characters. Lalita Noronha also read an excerpt from her novel in progress. Afterwards, I purchased a copy of her short story collection Where Monsoons Cry. The last time I heard her read at one of the MWA meetings, her writing stuck in my mind and I knew before she finished that I would be purchasing a copy. Lauren Eisenberg Davis read a selection from her memoir-in-progress. Eric D. Goodman read “The Silences” from Tracks, his novel of interconnected stories. It’s always good to hear Eric read; in fact, a few months ago he read “A Good Beer Needs a Good Stein,” one of my favorite pieces from the novel, on NPR. It’s an excellent example of how authors should read their work, and a first-person version of the story is available at To Be Read Aloud.
Last, but not least, Ian Hochberg read several of his poems. I was reminded of the beat poets, he just had an energy about him that was so fun to watch and his pieces were engaging.
I enjoyed the readings so much (despite having to take a seat outside of the tent because of my late arrival, and therefore baking in the hot, hot, too hot sun), and afterwards I chatted briefly with some of the other writers before heading off to find some food. Even though hadn’t had breakfast, I ended up waiting several hours to buy something to eat–a soda sustained me while I walked around and decided on what books to devour.
Last year I didn’t have much time to purchase. This year was different. Thanks to huge discounts, I walked away with two bags full of books, magazines, and miscellaneous items.
Raw Dog Screaming Press (publisher of the wonderful book Vacation by Jeremy C. Shipp) was on hand, and we talked and I browsed and on my second time around—after deciding on what I would and wouldn’t purchase—I bought The Bizarro Starter Kit: An Introduction to the Bizarro Genre. It turned out that one of the men I chatted with, John Edward Lawson, was also featured in the collection and he signed it for me.
I also purchased several copies of the literary journal Mosaic. It was a surprise to find out that such a professional publication was no longer stocked in bookstores. The publisher and I talked a bit about their attempts to get it back into stores now that the magazine is non-profit. I personally prefer to buy literary magazines from the stores, whether a big chain like B&N or a local independent, simply because of problems with receiving subscriptions in the past, but maybe I should re-evaluate that policy. Maintaining a lit mag is undoubtedly a difficult job.
There were many other events that I enjoyed, including a staged reading of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, musical performances, and I bought several more books. But eventually my legs wore out and I was nearly past my spending limit, so after a quick stop at the Walters Art Museum and a local aromatherapy shop, I grabbed my bags and headed home. Good times.
Nancy O. Greene