|Speaking of a sense of place... I started the day doing this.|
Bike with Authors event sponsored by the festival.
To start with, David L. Ulin wrote the book I wish I'd written--it's about walking! Around a city! (Los Angeles, in this case.) Randy Fritz's excerpt was also excellent; his book is about the Bastrop fire in 2011 and how his family survived losing their home and, to some extent, their sense of place.
They talked about what home means to them now after choices and circumstances have conspired to take away what they once thought of as home. (Mr. Fritz: "It's where your most important relationships are." Mr. Ulin: "I carry home with me.") They talked about place being a part of identity, that identity is shaped by place and vice versa, and how once a person's place changes, some identity is lost and reshaped and augmented with the new place. Mr. Fritz said, "Every day, I'm reminded by the landscape of what we've lost (ed: the beautiful Lost Pines forest was destroyed in the fire, and burned trees and charred stumps still remain around Bastrop). But I also know what we've gained."
Perhaps the heart of this session came from Mr. Ulin when he said, "If literature has any purpose at all, empathy is it." Indeed, it's a window into not just one world, but into hearts and minds of people and places that we may never see in real life and it broadens our own horizons just a little more. It's how we travel through time and space without the aid of a TARDIS. Reading a wide range of ideas from all kinds of people is perhaps one of the best ways to work on the empathy muscles, in the hopes they'll be ready to go when we meet other people face-to-face.
And so we read, as if our collective lives depend upon it, just in case they do.
Mr. Fritz & Mr. Ulin weren't the only authors we saw yesterday. We also enjoyed sessions with these folks:
And that was my book festival.