The weekend before last I attended a few events of the Bangor Book Festival. This was a small festival that included about twenty different talks and readings, and was a sort of companion event to the Maine Festival of the Book held in Portland during the summer. The authors that participated were all local and offered a mostly Maine-centered percpective on writing. The most interesting event was called "The Mean Streets of Bangor, Past and Present", which included insight from mystery writer Gerry Boyle, author of the Jack McMurrow series; Ardeana Hamlin, who wrote an interesting book titled "Pink Chimneys" about prostitution in Bangor during the 19th century; and moderated by Dick Shaw, a former reporter for the Bangor Daily News. The discussion was timely because the city was reenacting the famous 1937 shoot out with the Brady gang the next day.
This was the first year of the book festival, but I hope they continue with it.
But there is one thing I have to say, and this pertains to all writing events, I am not a fan of readings. Discuss the books. Why did you choose the subject? Why this character? What are your influences? What is going on in the world of fiction? My mind tends to wander during readings, no matter who is doing it. During my MFA, students were required to attend faculty readings, which I found asinine - I hadn't had a teacher read to me since elementary school, why do I need this in grad school? I guess some people enjoy it, both writers and readers/listeners, and it has become a major part of the book culture, but I'm just not one of them. I can read a book, I've had that ability for quite a few years; what I want is to meet the writer and learn what makes him/her tick. What are your thoughts on readings?