This year’s Brooklyn Book Festival is poised to take over our fair lit-loving borough on Sept. 23, with more than 280 national and international authors presenting over a hundred events over fourteen stages around Brooklyn. And this year is particularly star-studded: Our picks of the best of the fest include a discussion about the future of marriage and monogamy with sex columnist Dan Savage and The Atlantic‘s infamous spinster Kate Bolick, contemplating the artisanal-everything trend in Brooklyn with David Rees, who wrote a book on artisanal pencil sharpening, and, of course, Brooklyn’s own Tony Danza in conversation with everyone’s favorite Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. A full schedule is available at the site but here are our top ten picks for the 2012 Festival (and don’t forget our book swap after party with drink specials too!)
1. Ice or Salt: The Personal in Fiction, 11am, Brooklyn Borough Hall Courtroom, 209 Joralemon Street
Authors Siri Hustvedt (Living, Thinking, Looking), Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård (My Struggle) and talk of the town Sheila Heti (How Should a Person Be?) explore how writing techniques can transform personal experience into art that rings true to a broad audience. Moderated by Brooklyn’s own Phillip Lopate.
2. The Other Coast: Stories from L.A, 1pm, Brooklyn Borough Hall Courtroom, 209 Joralemon Street
Emma Straub (Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures) Seth Greenland (The Angry Buddhist) and Karolina Waclawiak (How to Get Into the Twin Palms) read from and discuss their books on the reinvention of a woman as a golden-age Hollywood star, playing dirty at local politics, and passing as glitterati in the private clubs of L.A. Moderated by David Ulin (The Lost Art of Reading).
3. Words of Conflict, 4pm Brooklyn Borough Hall Community Room, 209 Joralemon Street
Tyler Boudreau (Packing Inferno: The Unmaking of a Marine), foreign correspondent Anna Badkhen (Peace Meals and Waiting for the Taliban), Brian Castner (The Long Walk) and Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya (The Watch) read from their work and discuss the impact of America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on contemporary writing.
4. Tony Danza Apologizes to Teachers, 1pm Main Stage, Borough Hall Plaza
Enough said. Actor, Brooklyn native author of the new book I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had Tony Danza in conversation with everyone’s favorite Borough President Marty Markowitz.
5. Let’s Talk About Sex: Grappling with Gender in the 21st Century, 2pm Main Stage, Borough Hall Plaza
Naomi Wolf (Vagina: A New Biography), Carlos Andres Gomez (Man Up: Cracking the Code of Modern Manhood) and Kate Bornstein (A Queer and Pleasant Danger) talk sexuality, gender, and the role they play in culture today. What does it mean to be a man, a woman, or somewhere in between? Moderated by Hanna Rosin (of The Atlantic’s The End of Men).
6. The Dark Side, 3pm Main Stage, Borough Hall Plaza
How does an author write about a character’s pain and darkness? Authors Amelia Gray (Threats), Dennis Lehane (Moonlight Mile) and Sapphire (The Kid, Push) deal with violence in their work and discuss how they handle it. Moderated by Greg Cowles, editor of The New York Times Book Review.
7. Artisanal Everything, 11am Main Stage, Borough Hall Plaza
David Rees (How to Sharpen Pencils), the world’s only artisanal pencil sharpener, talks with Sam Anderson, critic at large for the New York Times Magazine, about his pencil sharpening business and the booming artisanal mayonnaise market in Brooklyn.
8. There’s A Story in Every Borough, 2pm North Stage, Borough Hall Plaza/Columbus Park
Five authors from all five boroughs read from their works and discuss their New York neighborhoods. From Suzanne Corso’s late 1970’s Bay Ridge in Brooklyn Story, to Julian Tepper’s Manhattan in Balls, to the Queens of Andrew Cotto’s The Domino Effect, and finally to the dark corners of S.J. Rozan’s Bronx in Ghost Hero, New York natives talk about taking inspiration from our fine and fickle city. Moderated by Michael Penncavage (Staten Island Noir).
9. The Sex Panel: Taboo in Pictures, 3pm Saint Francis Auditorium, 180 Remsen Street
Gilbert Hernandez (Love and Rockets), Leela Corman (Unterzakhn), Molly Crabapple (Devil in the Details) and Bob Fingerman (From the Ashes) talk about pushing the boundaries of sex and taboo in comics. How far is too far? Featuring saucy screen projections, with viewer discretion advised! Moderated by Heidi MacDonald.
10. The Poet Novelist, 5pm St. Francis McArdle, 180 Remsen Street
Poets and novelists Ben Lerner (Leaving the Atocha Station), Eileen Myles (Inferno: A Poet’s Novel) and Sapphire (The Kid, Push) explore the boundaries, possibilities, divergences and intersections of poetry and prose.
11. Marriage and Monogamy, 5pm Saint Ann and the Holy Trinity Church, 157 Montage Street
Is marriage outdated? Is non-monogamy sustainable in a relationship? With talk of marriage equality on everyone’s lips, our authors weigh monogamy, marriage, its alternatives, and what it all means for how we live today. Syndicated sex columnist and author of The Commitment, Dan Savage has advocated “monogam-ish” relationships; anthropologist Christopher Ryan, Ph.D. (Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality), argues that monogamy isn’t inherent to humans; Kristin Davis (The Manhattan Madam’s Guide to Sex), aka “The Manhattan Madam,” will provide her insights into the tangled web of sex and commitment; and Eric Klinenberg (Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone) get real about relationships. Moderated by Kate Bolick (upcoming Among the Suitors: Single Women I Have Loved).