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Looking through the San Antonio Book Festival schedule gets me in a frenzied state similar to standing in line at Burgerteca. Queso? Beans? Poblanos? I want it all. My schedule is fully loaded. Definite conflicts exist, but to swing my vote, I pay attention to who’s moderating.
Texas Blood: Two Writers Wrestle with Family Legacy (10 a.m. in the Festival Room)
- The Kings of Big Spring: God, Oil and One Family’s Search for the American Dream by Bryan Mealer
- Texas Blood: Seven Generations Among the Outlaws, Ranchers, Indians, Missionaries, Soldiers and Smugglers of the Borderlands by Roger D. Hodge
One of the best opportunities of the book festival is discovering new authors (and these two are new to me). Mealer supposedly has written the “Texas version of the Hillbilly Elegy,” giving a voice to poverty. Hodge’s book, a combination of memoir and history, centers on his family’s ranch in west Texas.
Beloved Icon Sandra Cisneros (11:15 a.m. in the EY Tent)
I’m going to fight the crowds because I’m not going to miss Sandra Cisneros – she’s a rock star. I love her literary voice, and I love her live voice. It’s been more than 30 years since she published House on Mango Street, but her work stays fresh. Reading her work feels like taking a juice shot, a mega-dose of brilliant wit. Ito Romo is moderating the discussion of her collection, A House of My Own: Stories from My Life, and I’m intrigued by the format: essays in memoir form.
National Book Award Finalist Carmen Maria Machado on Her Short Story Collection (1 p.m. in the Coates Chapel)
Favorite writers become familiar voices – they are like friends we want to hear from. When I get my New Yorker or Sunday New York Times, I scan them for my favorites and Carmen Maria Machado is one of them. Like Karen Russell, she writes in liminal zones, somewhere between the fantastical and the real, opening my mind to the infinity of her imagination. In an interview with The Paris Review she discusses her love of horror and how she’s unafraid of writing good sex scenes. When she was little she talked to her furniture. Her story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and her memoir, House in Indiana, will be published in 2019.
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State of Being: Novels Set in Texas (2:30 p.m. at Launch SA)
- Oliver Loving by Stefan Merrill Block
- The Which Way Tree by Elizabeth Crook
- Sins of the Younger Sons by Jan Reid
These three novels vary greatly in theme but are united by their Texas settings. There’s an uncanny sensation when reading a book set in a place that is intimately familiar. When these familiar details get translated by a literary voice, the effect can be captivating. It’s like a game, recognizing and catching the details.