Monday, September 29, 2008

national book festival

I went to the 8th National Book Festival on the mall Saturday the 27th in rainy muggy warm weather. I have been trying to go for the past 8 years since I first heard about it on the news. This year finally I made it and discovered an enthusiastic  crowd of book people. There were lots of cool activities for children to do. Adults were treated to book signings, and lectures by writers on their published books. I went to hear Geraldine Brooks talk about her work. I read her first novel and am currently working on her third. She was a hard core news reporter in Sarajevo during the war and when she switched to fiction she wrote this story about a Hebrew illuminated book that was a rare treasure and has been saved from the fires of hate several times over the last 700 years.  She told us she got the idea in a bar in Sarajevo during the war when reporters gathered at night to discuss the days news in the dark with no electricity. Title: People of the Book tells you one reason why I was interested in this book. The combination of book history and book binding was clearly targeted at me. The story is told by a fictional book conservator who is repairing the damaged manuscript. It is a story of a real book but the fiction she added to expand the people who's hands it passed through over the centuries. At the book fair I had no trouble to find Geraldine and heard her speak and enjoyed it a great deal, but the crowd was so large that there was no  seating and then the line to get her autograph in my copy of the book was over one hour's wait in the sprinkles that fell. I carried a small umbrella but what a drag to have valuable hard backed books in the rain. Eventually I got my autograph and a complement on my folk life festival thunder dragon shirt from Ms. Brooks.
I really enjoyed the Library of Congress Tent. They had computers set up with big screens to explore their programs. One program I knew about already is on of old photos that are being viewed and comments are helping the librarians develop histories to go with the old images. I recommend everyone take a look and see if you know anything about their pictures. The librarian showed me one photo of a "three sisters diner" in Massachusetts which had no information with it at the library and over they got the daughter of this 1940's era diner to write a two page story about her father's moving to small town Massachusetts from Greece and opening that diner, so it is clearly working for some of the photos. The librarian says it is a favorite project at the Library of Congress( LOC ) to edit the comments and fact check them and I can see why. Reading the comments is at least as much fun as looking at the old pictures. LOC on  There is a link to the front page for the LOC project. I spent a whole afternoon just viewing and downloading my favorites picturess from the 1910's collection (see two above). I thanked the librarian for putting those photos on flickr. She told me that LOC has 14 million photographs and over one million of them digitalized. Luckily not that many are on Flickr. My Dutch pen pal says that the name Flickr makes him smile every time he sees it in my emails. In Dutch slang the word flikker means fag or queer. I wonder if the owners of Flickr know that about the word? It doesn't bother me to be associated with that name anymore like it did years ago.
This month and next I am working on my hand made books for my own fair. It is an arts and crafts fair my pal Peter Wood started 7 years ago. I have joined them two times, I think this year is my third Light in October. 
No one knows what that name means in case you were going to ask...
Saturday October 18th
at the Barcroft Community House 
Noon to 8:00 PM
800 South Buchanan St. Arlington, VA 22204
Maybe some of you can drop by to see the results of my binding work.

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