So, guess what I did this weekend? I’ll bet if you looked at the subject, you guessed it! For those of you unfamiliar with this, the Boston Book Festival is an annual festival where authors, publishers, and book fans congregate to engage in general book geekery. I’m not sure if that’s the official sound byte for it, but I think that fits. There are a lot of different booths–for bookstores and publishers alike–and individuals can go around and check out. Inside the Boston Public Library at Copley Square and the Old South Church, panels were held. These panels consisted of names in the genre–authors, publishers, editors, and the like. They usually talked about things and then opened the floor for general questions.
I ended up attending two panels; the first was on steampunk. Steampunk has always been one of those things that has vaguely intrigued me–I have a fondness for top hats (I even own one, thanks to two friends of mine) and recently have gotten into Abney Park–but my overwhelming dubiousness in the face of uncertainty has always prevented me from delving in. However, I have been curious about steampunk literature, so I went. The panelists quickly clarified for me that steampunk is really broad! The best way to describe it is “the future that never was”. But that definition isn’t limited to the Victorian era. The genre is about exploring things and having adventures. It really sounds quite fun! I bought a steampunk anthology after the panel, and I’m looking forward to reading it.
My other panel was on edginess in young adult literature. I also quite enjoyed this panel–I am not sure I learned anything specifically new, but I enjoyed hearing the authors talk about their work. Ellen Levine in particular–who wrote a book on teen pregnancy and abortion in 1953–was intriguing because her book almost did not get published because one of the characters chooses to have an abortion. Hearing her talk emphasized for me how much literature affects dialogue. I think that part of the point of literature is to explore such things. Literature should really about exploration and accessibility. On an unrelated note, one from the professors from my program moderated, and I think I need to take a class from her now.
Following the panels, I went wandering around the booths. They were pretty neat, although I think I got more out of the panels than the booths. I think I will have to plan to go to more panels next year.
All and all, it was a great experience, and I want to go back next year.