The LA Times Festival of Books was a favorite of mine when I lived in Los Angeles. It’s free to attend and you can spend all weekend browsing the many booths and chatting with fellow readers. If you want to attend a panel of authors it’s only $2.50 per ticket and well worth it.
How could you not love a woman who, feeling sorry for the lone fish living in a fish tank in a Thai restaurant, buys more fish from a nearby pet store and secretly releases them into the restaurant’s aquarium to keep her gilled friend from being lonely? I loved finding out that the fish story in Aisha Franz’s Shit is Real is based on true events.
Ted and Matt Lee, authors of Hotbox: Inside Catering, the Food World’s Riskiest Business, were so much fun at the morning panel I attended, “Beyond the Cookbook: Stories from the World of Food” that I went to their afternoon cooking demo, which was less a demo and more the brothers telling interesting stories with a generous helping of brotherly banter. They made it clear that as a catering chef you can’t phone it in at a $1,000 a plate fundraiser. “Philanthropy Is based on the party that you give, you spend one million to raise six million.”
Ruth Reichl talked about learning to cook through dumpster diving(!) in Berkeley. She wants restaurant reviews to go beyond where rich people should eat. She mentioned that food writing is a Trojan horse, a vehicle to talk about so many other bigger things. Ruth is a powerful storyteller, the audience was hanging on her every word. I’m looking forward to reading her recent book, Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir.
I learned about the Heaving Bosoms podcast from a festival goer. I like the show’s description: Best friends and romance aficionados, Erin and Melody, giggle about a new romance novel every week. We take ourselves VERY seriously. I don’t read romance novels (at least not yet), but my best friend lives 3000 miles away and I miss her so I’ll dig the podcast if it’s centered on the friendship. I noticed a very long line for the Alyssa Cole book signing so maybe I should start with one of her books, A Duke by Default.
#Unsent - Personal Storytelling Podcast was a pleasant surprise. It was the end of the day and I was worn out, but I wanted to hear at least one person read “a letter they wrote but never sent” (excellent writing prompt). The first reader I heard was so good I stayed for the duration. Comedian Erica Dawson got a lot of laughs with her poem about resenting going to all of her friends’ plays, one of the dangers of studying acting. She’s fabulous and I hope she gets a lot of good gigs.
I was fortunate enough to be staying an Angels Flight ride away from LA’s Grand Central Market so I visited there a few times. A Saturday night dessert craving was satisfied with an ice cream sundae from McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams. I’ll overlook the fact that the “unicorn” sprinkles look pretty much the same as rainbow sprinkles, because their ice cream was so good. Sunday morning I had AMAZING carnitas tacos for breakfast, yes, breakfast from Anna Maria. I was waiting in line for a guava juice behind a construction worker ordering extra spicy carnitas tacos for his crew. They glistened at me. I had already ordered a breakfast burrito from another place, but hell, it’s vacation, I could save the burrito for later or give it away. I ordered my tacos with mild green salsa and they were beautifully served with chopped raw onions and cilantro along with wedges of lime. Highly recommended.
Next time you take an Uber, ask your driver how far they have driven a single fare. One of my Uber drivers told me she drove someone from Los Angeles to San Francisco. I did not know that was even a thing.
On Sunday I was bummed out that a professor of mine from college, Kathryn Davis, would not be appearing at a panel I was looking forward to, “Fiction: Calamity and Chaos.” However, I stayed and listened to the other writers. I enjoyed Abby Geni explaining the difference between a schmegeggy (a contemptible person, an idiot) versus a schlimazel (unlucky, hapless person). Giggles were stifled when moderator Doug Dutton declared, “That’s a lot of penis in there” after Jordy Rosenberg read a passage from his book Confessions of the Fox.
I had a long conversation with illustrator Ralph Sanders and his wife, Frances. His graphic novel, based on Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, is beautiful–this guy needs an agent and a publisher. He’s teaching a class on scratchboard at the San Francisco Center for the Book in August.
I caught a little of Jensen McRae performing on the USC stage, she has a wonderful voice.
Representatives from LAX were answering questions and giving detailed explanations about what’s to come in the future. Three words: automated people mover.
Why haven’t I been to the International Printing Museum, yet?
Books I purchased at the 2019 fest:
Hotbox: Inside Catering, the Food World’s Riskiest Business by Matt and Ted Lee
The Wildlands by Abby Geni
Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg
Hannah versus the Tree by Leland de la Durantaye
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
Pilgrims Progress: The Graphic Novel by Ralph Sanders
Cicada by Shaun Tan
French Love Poems edited by Tynan Kogane