I'm excited about Wordstock this year. I wrote a whole feature about it why I'm excited for Wordstock this year, but it boils down to this: less author readings, more panel discussions and conversations.
Here are a few of the panels I'm looking forward to:
From the Front Lines—A panel discussion on writing war stories: Matt Bors, Tatjana Soli, and Kilong Ung talk about writing in and about war zones. I recently profiled Bors—he's a local cartoonist who spent a month traveling unembedded in Afghanistan. Tatjana Soli wrote The Lotus Eater; Kilong Ung is a Cambodian genocide survivor and founder of Golden Leaf Education Foundation. Sat 11 am
Writing in Communities—Steve Lieber, of Portland's Periscope Studios, and Stephen Elliot of The Grotto talk about creating in organized communities. Presumably the two will be discussing the benefits and constraints of imposing a work-place structure on creative work, which is of marginal interest to me—I'm more interested in the speakers themselves. Elliot wrote My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up and The Adderall Diaries; he also founded influential lit site The Rumpus. Lieber is primarily an artist; most recently he collaborated with local writer Jeff Parker on Underground. Two pretty different dudes, at least on paper, which usually makes for good conversation. That's also Sat 11 am
Why Write Short?—Aimee Bender, Anthony Doerr, and David Vann in conversation about short story writing. I was lucky enough to interview Aimee Bender recently, and she is exactly as thoughtful and down-to-earth as you'd hope she would be, based on her books. I haven't read Anthony Doerr's recent collection The Shell Collector, but by all accounts it was great; he was at Tin House for their summer workshops a few months ago, and his seminar came highly recommended as well. And if Lorrie Moore's review of David Vann's Legend of a Suicide doesn't impress you... well, go read a Lorrie Moore book, I guess. Sat noon
The Future of Reading—Ursula Le Guin is Ursla Le Guin. Michael Schaub is the managing editor of Bookslut, one of the most influential books sites on the whole wide internet (also, disclaimer, someone I enjoy drinking beer with); Matthew Stadler runs Publication Studio, a local print-on-demand publisher committed to a sustainable approach to publishing. Remember when Le Guin took on Google over book digitization? There is no way this won't be interesting. Sun 11 am
First Book, First Person—Sarahlee Lawrence's memoir River House is so good. She's on a panel with Wendy Burden and Gemme Whelan, discussing first books and first-person narrators. Sun 1 pm
Cracking Up Is Hard to Do—Jess Walter wrote the enjoyable The Financial Lives of the Poets, and Steve Almond is a reliably hilarious speaker. This conversation on humor writing is moderated by local funnylady Courtenay Hameister, who hosts Live Wire! and was one of the forces behind Road House: The Play. Sun 2 pm
Literary Lives—Three local favorites—Monica Drake, Willy Vlautin, and Viva Las Vegas—discuss why they chose to make Portland their home, instead of leaving for a "real city." Moderated by Mercury friend/contributor Kevin Sampsell. Sat 3 pm
I could go on and on, honestly: Jon Raymond and Phil Margolin on selling the movie rights of their books; Portland Monthly editor Randy Gragg on long-form narrative journalism; panels on YA and supernatural fiction and creative nonfiction and memoir... And of course, there are still a few solo authors on the docket. Featured authors include Maile Meloy, Jonathan Lethem, Kristen Hersch (reading from what is apparently a very strong memoir, Rat Girl). The complete schedule is here, though to be honest looking at it makes my brain shut off a little; you might be better off tracking down a print schedule.
ALSO! This is important. Several people have told me they're not going to Wordstock because it's "like, $30 a day or something." It is not. There are workshops targeted at writers which are $35, but admission to the exhibits, readings, and panels is cheap: $7 per day, or $10 for the weekend.
ALSO AGAIN!: Wordstock opens tonight with a special edition of Mortified, featuring Sam Adams; and don't forget about the Text Ball, on Saturday at 7 pm at p:ear Gallery. This year's theme: "Text Appeal." So... that's kinda hot.
Wordstock's exhibits run Sat-Sun 10 am-6 pm at the Convention Center. If you need more info, bet you can find it here.