On The Same Page
Independent bookstores in Monterey County unite to celebrate the written word.
Thursday, November 2, 2000
Bibliophiles are a special group. One might even say a dying breed. But for independent bookstores, dealers and publishers, they are bread and butter. This Sunday at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, the table is set for a juicy feast of words to be consumed by readers and writers alike.
Book Festival 2000, organized by the Monterey Bay Independent Booksellers, celebrates books and authors with more than 30 book booths and tables, six major workshops, and authors speaking all day.
May Waldroup, owner of Thunderbird Bookshop in The Barnyard, explains that the 4th annual festival simply seeks to further literacy. "We''ve probably given more than 10,000--in books and dollars--to Reading Is Fundamental. And many people in this area seem to have the time to read more. They read to kids and grandkids, set an example, and their kids read to their kids."
Indie bookstores like Thunderbird, Bay Books, Pilgrim''s Way and Bookworks (who all have booths at the festival) strive to provide individual goodies such as book conventions that chain stores seem less interested in. "These book festivals are part of a nationwide bookseller scene and we saw it was a good thing. It brings parents and children to books," says Waldroup. Little-known authors and specialized book dealers get public attention and can share their love of books.
The gates of Book Festival 2000 open at 10am for early bookworms who want to indulge in book booth browsing before the first event at 10:45am. Local authors Joyce McGreevy and Elizabeth Murray speak on a garden book panel, pondering ideas such as "a garden as a sanctuary" and "gardening as a perfect waste of time."
At 11am, book club members should be keen to join a workshop hosted by Sonoma County writer Victoria Golden McMains as she shares the "little-known gems" from her book The Readers'' Choice. Gathered from book clubs all over the U.S., McMains'' suggestions range from favorites like The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields, to unusual sci-fi by Octavia Butler or The Samurai''s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama.
McMains has opted to exclude what she calls "Murder, Mayhem, Millions, Shopping and Sex" (MMMSS) books from her list because they usually can be found on the New York Times bestseller list. "The book club phenomena keeps growing each year," says McMains, "and I wrote the book to share these gifts with others. Many ideas overlapped [when she asked for recommendations] and they''re not all ''Oprah'' books. It''s encouraging to see literature and good writing supported by average folks in book clubs." She''ll also discuss the dynamics of book clubs (what happens when someone says "I hated the book...") and will take audience ideas for her next "book club book."
For those readers who are also closet writers, the next workshop (at 1pm) is essential. Pulitzer Prize-winning local author Jane Smiley (A Thousand Acres, Moo, Horse Heaven); publisher Jeremy Tarcher; former San Francisco Chronicle book review editor Pat Holt; and author David Loye unravel the mysteries of "how to get published." The panel discusses how the Internet is, as in many fields, creating a booming market for new writers.
As a tribute to the large and diverse writing community in Monterey County, the first annual "Plentitude of Poets" reading is scheduled at 3pm. James Berkowitz, a poet who works at Thunderbird, and local poets Ric Masten and Elliot Roberts narrowed a selection of 40 writers who submitted their poems down to 18. "We chose randomly. I don''t think poetry is about competition, it has to come from the heart," says Berkowitz.
Waldroup coined the word "plentitude" (rather than plenitude) after reading An Exaltation of Larks, which has phrases to describe groups of things. "There was nothing for poets so I invented it," she says.
Jane Smiley and Ric Masten both had a hand in the newest title from independent press Carmel Publishing Company, whose festival booth will be heaped with copies of Pacific Light: Images of the Monterey Peninsula. Smiley wrote the introduction and Masten wrote the poems that accompany Douglas Steakley''s images in this stunning coffee table-style book.
Slightly overlapping with the poetry reading is a workshop on feng shui and geomancy, Chinese and European "arts of harmonious design" at 2:30pm. Architecture and interior design can be enhanced by an awareness of natural elements, the four points of direction, and even astrology. Design experts Neal Own Kruse, Cathleen Rickard, Pauline Allen, and Richard Feather Anderson offer tips on how to use feng shui in your home and office.
Children of all ages are welcome at the Book Festival. Throughout the day, the MPC Drama Department performs "Fractured Fairy Tales," adapted from Rocky and Bullwinkle, "Rumplestiltskin," and "The Flying Carpet." Drop by the Harry Potter booth to hear readings from the popular series and get a special copy of the Harry Potter newspaper. Characters from popular children''s stories will be strolling the grounds to entertain, and several booths at the festival specialize in kids'' books.
In addition to the booths of local independent bookstores, antiquarian book dealers and used bookstores will be sharing their wares. Waldroup, Ann Congleton of Bay Books, and Marcia Stearns of Bookmark frequent book festivals around the state to get ideas and invite speakers to Monterey. "We find the authors mostly at Bay Area festivals," says Waldroup. "And we usually select the topics first, then find authors who have the time and interest to come down." Gus Arriola, Scott Foglesong, Ray March, Linda Lee Paul, Rachel Renman, Dr. Larry Lachman, and Cole Weston are just a few of the literary figures speaking or signing this Sunday.
Ghost Town Publications specializes in "books of Western history and lore." Tavistock Books specialize in rare books and Charles Dickens. Garcia Garst Booksellers feature children''s books, and Carpe Diem Fine Books has an interest in antiquarian volumes and California history. Other local groups supporting independent books and literacy by renting booths are the National Steinbeck Center, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Monterey County Library and the Learning Depot.
For more information on Book Festival 2000, visit www.mbib.org or call 624-1803. For independent book info, visit www.booksense.com or www.wordsworth.com.