A first-timer at the Twin Cities Book Festival


It was a lazy Saturday morning to begin with. I slept until ten and then spent until just after 12:30 p.m. with my head in the new Elizabeth Peters novel. Suddenly, I realized that I should probably get a move on if I wanted to get to the book fair and catch a 2:00 lecture. I also had wanted to catch an 11:30 lecture, but that was never going to happen.

The drive to downtown was beautiful. Leaves were falling and the temperature was in the high 60s—everything felt golden. My destination was Minneapolis Community Technical College, and with hair still damp from the shower I stumbled into the building and careened towards the Hennepin Room. On the way down the hall I glanced at my watch (a.k.a. my cell phone) and saw 1:48 p.m. Perfect, I thought as I neared the room, I should be just on time.

At the door I tried to glance in subtly but was suddenly whisked in by a woman going shhhh…and so, quite by accident, I stumbled into the end of the previous lecture. From what I deduced, it was about American Indian tribes and a photographer or writer who preserved some of the history and music. It would most likely have been a really great lecture; I know the Q&A time was intriguing. After the room emptied and slowly re-filled, I had a moment of panic that I was in the wrong room, but the appearance of an older and very bearded hippie reassured me that I was in the right place. With a sigh of relief I prepared to listen to the story of Allen Ginsburg.

I had never actually read Howl—I’d read snippets here and there, but never the whole poem in its stunning prose and truthfulness. This is exactly what I did when I returned home later that day. Even though it was a gorgeous day outside, book lovers and writers gathered at MCTC to listen to lectures, buy a used book, or talk to one of the numerous publishing houses. Tables stretched out with small presses, big presses, children’s presses, and many more specialized presses. I had no idea there were so many; it was like walking into a candy store with so many tempting selections that you just stand in awe for awhile. The organizers at Rain Taxi did an excellent job, and I’m certain I’ll be back for next year’s event.