Festive Weekend!

It has been another rather busy week this week (including a marathon seven-hour video interview!) and so posting was a bit light. I apologize for this, including for not getting to blogging about an event (or cluster of events) that I’ve been gleefully waiting for since the news broke last Fall that (as I’d mentioned back then) the LA Times Festival of Books is now being hosted by USC. This is something I fantasized about many years ago, in fact – I simply think it is a better fit for the city of Los Angeles for many reasons.

Anyway, the first festival of the new era is tomorrow and Sunday, with a wonderful program that can be looked at on the LA Times website. It will continue to be the largest literary festival in the USA (and perhaps beyond?), and it is hoped that it will get even larger… Next year, we’ll have the new branch of the subway system running, giving three stops at the campus (hurrah!), but in the meantime there’s a dedicated shuttle bus connecting USC to Union Station downtown and the Convention Center (not to mention all the many regular public transport links), and so you don’t have to bring your car to the area to deal with parking issues.

As you know from my blogging about all this in previous years (see list of links at the end), in a sense the whole thing kicks off the Friday night before (tonight!) with the LA Times Book Prizes awards ceremony (this ceremony isn’t really part of the festival, I should say). Maybe you’ve seen the short lists in the various categories? Added some of them to your reading list, or felt pleased that they were already there?

I’m pleased to see that “Radioactive. Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout”, by Lauren Redniss has got some recognition. (NPR piece on it here.) Recall my writings about my graphic novel project. A main thrust of the project is that I hope to encourage (by example) more writers of science material to use some of the less traditional but powerful literary forms that use visual components to excite people about science. Laura’s book is not really a graphic novel, but a highly illustrated (rather beautifully) book with a high ratio of illustration to text while not being dismissable as simply a children’s picture book (as people often mistakenly do for examples of this genre). It is for all ages. So it is a first cousin of a mature graphic novel in my view, and so good to see it taken seriously by the LA Times judging panel, since it will help with the cause I’ve been talking about.

I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for luck for her in this category, just as I did for the excellent Asterios Polyp, last year’s winning masterpiece by David Mazzucchelli in the graphic novel category (nothing to do with science, per se… just a great piece, and I’ve long loved Mazzucchelli’s work going back to his wonderful collaborations with Frank Miller in the 80s, which continue to influence visual artists today – Read “Batman: Year One” and then go and look at Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins”, for example.) See an NPR story on that work here.

I’ll try to report one whether there are any chocolate fountains at the reception, since I seem to have been blessed with a guest ticket again this year.

See you at the festival!

-cvj

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