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April 26, 2008


Event Report by Don Rose

If you have never attended the LA Times Book Prizes awards show and afterparty, you really owe it to yourself to get a ticket, starting with next year. It is simply a great event, one of The LA Report's Top Ten of the year. Why? Because, as Patt Morrison told me at the gala reception after the awards, it is like the high school reunion you always wish you had, with all the smartest coolest people in one place. I agree! By the way, it was a delight meeting Ms. Morrison, who wore one of her beautiful signature hats, and is just as sweet and charming in person as she is on the radio show she hosts on KPCC FM; Patt said she is bringing her show to the GOP convention in Minnesota and hopes to get author/comedian and Minnesotan Al Franken to appear on the Comedy Congress segment of her show.

I also talked with the Book Prize winner in the Science and Technology category, Douglas Hofstadter, who won for his book "I Am a Strange Loop." Hofstadter was only 35 when he received the Pulitzer Prize in 1980 for his most famous work -- "Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid" -- and I couldn't resist asking the professor and author what inspired him to write that book almost 30 years ago. He took several silent seconds to mull over his answer, then explained that it began when he was thinking about Godel and his theories regarding incompleteness in mathematics as he drove across the country. When he got to Colorado, he sat down to write a letter to someone to talk about all these ideas brewing in his mind. The letter became 30 pages. The rest is history. (I told him that his story is similar to one told by Tom Wolfe, who had severe writers block on his first writing assignment and so wrote to his editor to tell him why he could not write the story, including his notes in the process. The editor published that letter, with only minor edits!)

Moral of the story: even if you think you can't write, write anyway. Then write some more. You might be surprised at what comes out. It might even be brilliant. And a good way to get started is to write a real (or imagined) letter to someone. A letter feels so informal and low pressure, and hence is a great way to shut off the inner critic and let the pure ideas flow.

A final note about the Book Prizes afterparty: this year it again featured open bar and simply amazing food, ranging from sushi to ribs to eggrolls, farfalle pasta, rice, salads, a dessert bar and much more. In short, the annual Book Prizes is a feast for the mind as well as the palate, and I highly recommend you attend next year if you have a love for the written word and writers.

And now, a final summary of this weekend's Festival of Books:

Who: The 13th Annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (latimesfestivalofbooks.com) - one of the nation’s premier public literary festivals created to promote literacy and unite those who create books with the people who love to read them.

What: The Festival of Books is the largest of its kind on the west coast, comprised of more than 100 author panels, readings, writing seminars and discussion sessions, along with six outdoor stages including The Target Children’s Stage and more than 60 children’s oriented exhibitors. Debuting at this year’s festival is “The Comix Strip,” an entirely new comic book, graphic novel and Manga-devoted event area offering attendees access to the genres’ exhibitors, retailers and newest issues.

When: Saturday, April 26th, 2008 10am – 6pm
Sunday, April 27th, 2008 10am – 5pm

Where: UCLA Main Campus

Admission: Admission to the festival and the panel discussions are free, tickets must be purchased to attend the writing seminars and The Book Prizes.

Parking: Parking on the UCLA campus is $8.

More event information, including a complete list of authors is available at
Information is also available by calling 1-800-LA TIMES, ext. 7BOOK.