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    Look who's coming to the Times Festival of Reading

    By MARGO HAMMOND, Times Books Editor
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published September 15, 2002

    The Times Festival of Reading, celebrating its 10th anniversary, will be held Sunday, Nov. 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the campus of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg. More than 30 authors -- including two Pulitzer-Prize winners, the executive editor of the Washington Post, a prize-winning sports writer and a legendary Washington political columnist -- will be on hand for the annual event. Admission and parking are free.

    The outdoor celebration of the spoken and written word again offers people the chance to meet some Famous Dead Authors, including Florida-related authors Ernest Hemingway, Zora Neale Hurston and Majorie Kinnan Rawlings; the opportunity to buy books at a book market with more than 40 vendors, and the occasion to meet national and regional authors who will be giving talks and signing books.

    Two open-air entertainment stages will feature music, drama and poetry while under the Big Top Tent children can hear their favorite picture books read aloud. Kids are invited to dress up as their favorite book characters to march in a parade along with larger-than-life depictions of Madeline, Froggy, Pinkerton the St. Bernard, Maisy, Corduroy Bear, Clifford the Big Red Dog and Angelina Ballerina. Two workshops on desktop publishing will be presented by Impressions magazine.

    Many of the topics that will be covered by the roster of authors invited to speak are ripped from today's headlines: Iraq, journalism, the Everglades, sports, politics and war heroes.

    One of the highlights will be an appearance by Peter Matthiessen, whose novel, Killing Mister Watson, was chosen for this fall's One Book, One Bay initiative, the communitywide effort to get everyone reading and discussing the same book. Discussions of Killing Mister Watson, part of a trilogy Matthiessen wrote about a real-life figure who was the victim of vigilante justice in the Everglades in 1910, are taking place throughout October at libraries in Pinellas, Hernando and Hillsborough counties. Matthiessen, the co-founder of the Paris Review, will talk about the Watson saga as well as discuss his latest work of nonfiction, The Birds of Heaven: Travels with Cranes. Meanwhile on the festival's Spoken Word stage, actors will present scenes from Killing Mister Watson.

    The Everglades -- and how it can be saved -- also will be the focus of a panel discussion, featuring Susan Cerulean, editor of The Book of the Everglades, and Times staff writers Jeff Klinkenberg and Julie Hauserman, both of whom have contributed pieces to that anthology. An exhibit on the history of the Everglades, provided by the Florida Humanities Council, will be on display on the campus.

    As the debate over whether to attack Iraq heats up, perhaps the most timely talk at this year's festival will be by Sandra Mackey, a journalist who has extensively covered the Middle East. Her most recent book is The Reckoning: Iraq and the Legacy of Saddam Hussein. Characterizing the American approach to Iraq as "a long night of ignorance," Mackey warns against underestimating the complexities of that troubled country.

    Another political lesson will be offered by veteran Washington columnist Elizabeth Drew who will present Citizen McCain, her political portrait of the Republican maverick John McCain.

    The state of journalism today will be addressed by Leonard Downie Jr., the executive editor of the Washington Post, and Robert Kaiser, associate editor of the Post, co-authors of The News About the News. Their presentation will be followed by a panel of distinguished print and television journalists talking about the future of their profession.

    Journalism also will be the focus of a presentation by Roy Peter Clark of the Poynter Institute and St. Petersburg historian Ray Arsenault, co-editors of The Changing South of Gene Patterson, a collection of writings by the former Times executive editor written for the Atlanta-Constitution during the battles for Civil Rights in the South. Patterson himself will be on hand to reflect on that tumultuous period in American history.

    And speaking of the past, history buffs will want to check out another festival participant: Carol Berkin, author of A Brilliant Solution: Inventing the Constitution, a history of the men behind the first Continental Congress. A professor of history at the City of New York University and Baruch College whose engaging storytelling style brings history alive, Berkin has appeared in documentaries aired on PBS, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel and the Learning Channel, giving commentary on everything from John Adams' neurosis to the sexual practices of colonial New England.

    Two books describing the heroics of war will be presented at the festival. Pulitzer Prize-winning author James Stewart, author of the bestseller Den of Thieves, will tell the story of Rick Rescorla, the Vietnam hero who died saving lives in the South Tower of the World Trade Center, which he chronicled in The Heart of a Soldier: A Story of Love, Heroism and September 11th. Chicago Tribune columnist Bob Greene will share the story about the solace and comfort a small town gave to soldiers during World War II in Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen.

    Times staffer Sue Morrow will present "Post-9/11: Slices of Life From Countries Once Foreign," a collection of recent photos by award-winning Times photojournalists Jamie Francis and James Borchuck featuring images of Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Israel, countries which have not been strangers to war in recent years.

    Florida thriller fans will be thrilled to know that four writers from the state are coming to talk about their latest tales: Pulitzer Prize-winning Miami crime writer Edna Buchanan (The Ice Maiden); thriller writers James Swain of Odessa (Funny Money), Ace Atkins of Tampa (Dark End of the Street) and gothic novelist Jim Reese of Tampa (The Book of Shadows). As an added bonus, Swain, a professional magician, will bring along some magic tricks.

    Another Florida writer will take center stage as Valerie Boyd, an Atlanta-Constitution journalist, talks about her upcoming biography of Eatonville's Zora Neale Hurston, Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston. (Be warned, however: Boyd's talk may be haunted by Zora herself and other Harlem Renaissance figures, thanks to the Famous Dead Authors on campus.)

    Interested in sports? Gator fans can drop in on a talk by Peter Golenbock, author of Go Gators: An Oral History of Florida's Pursuit of Gridiron Glory.

    The literary minded won't want to miss talks by Leonore Hart, author of Waterwoman, who is one of the writers in this year's Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers series, and Eckerd College professor Sterling Watson (Sweet Dream Baby). And for literati who like to take their books on the road, there will be an appearance by musician and author David Amram (Offbeat: Collaborating with Kerouac) and a lecture on the Literature of the American Road by Saint Leo University professor Mark "Tiger" Edmonds, author of Long Rider: A Tale of Just Passin' Through.

    Other scheduled appearances include:

    Bruce Fieler who will examine the figure of Abraham from the perspective of three major and sometimes warring faiths (Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths);

    Eric Marcus who will talk about gay history (Making Gay History);

    Former Eckerd College president Billy O. Wireman who will present selected writings on education (Like Shooting Rapids in the Dark);

    Times staff writer Bill Adair who will dissect an airplane disaster (The Mystery of Flight 427: Inside an Investigation);

    Billy Norris, the Times X-Team movie critic, who will offer his best and worst movie picks;

    And, finally, Sarah Ban Breathnach, bestselling author of Simple Abundance, whose latest book, Romancing the Ordinary: A Year of Simple Splendor, once again urges us to keep it simple.

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