September 29th, 2007

lobo sam

book festival!

I'm visiting Ma, so this gave me a chance today to check out the Washington Book Festival, held on the Mall.

This being Washington, there are always people willing to spoil a perfectly nice day with politics: some colorfully-dressed folks were strolling along with their banner, chanting, "Money for education, not for war and occupation!" or some such thing that vaguely rhymed. One woman had the temerity to mildly suggest that she felt military spending and action were necessary under some circumstances, but the protesters were quick to crush that dissent. "You're in the wrong line!" the protesters shouted at her. "That's the line for education!"

(Actually, it was the line to get books signed by Stephen Hunter, the magnificently gun-happy thriller writer. I was tempted for a moment to reply that yes, it was the line to be educated ABOUT SHOOTING THINGS -- but decided against it on the grounds that they might actually hang around and argue. So I let them pass, smug and happy, secure in the knowledge that soon they'd be bothering someone else.)

The writers were great: I didn't stay long, but had a chance to talk briefly with Hunter, who was a very cool dude, signing my favorite of his books for me and his newest, at my request, for my mom. (He also had interesting comments on story, at one point noting that Narrative is a fantastic anti-depressant. Also Valium substitute. Both are true.) And I got to see Terry Pratchett in person again. I met him very briefly at one con or another ages ago, so it was a repeat, but a nice one! He had a massive crowd, no surprise, and his talk was as witty as you'd expect.

(Hunter was also quite funny: he gave an account of the writers' reception at the White House, and noted that everybody was cheerfully networking -- something Hunter stinks at, and has never been inclined to do. He was standing there, and noticed that as far as he could tell, only one other author was not networking. Joyce Carol Oates. He hesitated, then figured, hey, they had that much in common, make conversation. "Hi," he said.

"Humph," said Oates, thoroughly snubbing him.

End of conversation!)