The LA Times Festival of Books kicks off this weekend, which is like Coachella for book nerds (not to say book nerds don't go to Coachella, too, though judging from the kids that were out in the desert last weekend for Coachella 1.0, I can only conclude that the books they are reading must somehow be filling their brains with the untrue information that listening to a set by Bon Iver does not completely emasculate you [and then whatever the equivalent to emasculation is for women]) except that instead of a hologram of 2Pac dropping mad rhymes, there will be a hologram of Christopher Hitchens in the Green Room drinking from a flask and sweating through his suit, glaring at Reza Aslan and muttering about radical Islam and post-Colonial paradigm shifts in [all the esoteric stuff we pretended to understand when he was alive], while James Ellroy looks on in veiled horror.
For the second year, the Festival of Books is at USC, which means that my wife Wendy won't be attending because, well, she went to UCLA and refuses to step foot anywhere near anyone wearing Trojan garb. Having gone to Cal State Northridge, I'm just impressed by the fact that the campus seems to have a library that hasn't doubled as a Starfleet Federation office building nor was destroyed by the Cylons in the OG Battlestar Galactica. Plus, well, as an author, I get to hang out in the Green Room with Christopher Hitchens hologram and the all-you-can-eat-deli meats-and-mini-pies-and-pizzas-and-also-hopefully-see-John-Cusack-and-tell-him-that-I-love-him-and-want-to-have-his-man-babies.
On top of all that, of course, is the actual festival itself, which is awesome. I've attended each and every incarnation of the festival over the course of the last 17 years and each year I come back feeling energized about writing, reading and literature. (I also come back with horror stories about people shoving manuscripts at me encased in strange velobound contraptions, and with people who just won't believe me when I say I'm not my brother, and about people who believe I should help them let the world know about the upcoming sun storms that will eventually kill all of us!) I'll be taking part in three panels -- one on Saturday and two on Sunday. They are:
Fiction: To The Point, moderated by the excellent Matthew Specktor and with yours truly, Dan Chaon, Adam Levin and Elissa Schappell
*I have no idea what we'll be talking about based on the title of our panel -- and really, never take the title of the panel as an indication of what the people will be talking about -- but I hope at some point we get to the point on Dan Chaon's new full red beard, which makes him look like a cross between the young Santa in that claymation classic and the great writer Dan Chaon. Also: I expect that I'll discuss, at some length, some of Adam's choices for his team on the Voice.
Crime Fiction: Buried Secrets, moderated by yours truly and featuring Gregg Hurwitz, Denise Hamilton, Thomas Perry and Daniel Pyne
*I have been on approximately 10,000 panels with Gregg, Thomas and Denise...which will probably make Daniel feel totally out of place when we all start doing inside jokes and then Denise takes off her shirt (that always happens, it's so weird) and then Gregg and I start speaking Yiddish and then Thomas starts, like, doing that thing he does with his double jointed thumbs...anyway, it's gonna be great, I'm sure.
Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?: Laughter on the Page. I'll be moderating this, too, and trying to figure out how the fuck not to call Merrill Markoe, Jill Soloway or Dani Klein Modisett fat accidentally. Fucking christ. I imagine the process by which I was selected to moderate this went like this:
LA Times Employee 1: Who do we have who might say something truly objectionable to some nice women with funny memoirs?
LA Times Employee 2: Uh, let's see...oh, Goldberg. The younger one. Tod. He'll say something stupid. It will be fun!
LA Times Employee 3: Let's see if we can get him to accidentally call a woman fat! You think we can make that happen?
All: Yes! Yes, let's do that! Great plan!
Fucking christ. Anyway. There's a ton of great panels going on. Here are a few you either don't want to miss because they will be awesome, or because they will be awful, or because no one realizes the moderator fucked one of the panelists or one of the panelists' spouses, all after the jump.