Report From the Brattleboro Literary Festival

October 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

Brattleboro, Vermont is a corkscrew of a city, with odd hillside turns and alleyways, that happens to be the city where my wife and I ducked away to get married last year. Today I returned to take in part of the Brattleboro Literary Festival, a four-day celebration that hosts readings, panels, and other events in a handful of venues around town.

First I heard readings from poets Amy Dryansky (Grass Whistle) and Joan Larkin (Legs Tipped With Small Claws) at the Hooker-Dunham Theater & Gallery. Then I moved to the Centre Congregational Church (stuffy, with pews not very conducive to tall people) to hear David Gilbert (&Sons) and Kristopher Jansma (The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards) read from their latest novels, both of which are about authors who find themselves in sticky predicaments.

In between events I popped into Brattleboro Books, where I picked up John Gardner’s On Becoming a Novelist for $7.00. I killed time reading it in a café until Flashing Lights—A Flash Fiction event hosted at Hooker-Dunham by Jacob White, editor of Green Mountain Review. Five writers shared their work: Pam Houston (Sight Hound), Bonnie ZoBell (The Whack-Job Girls), David Abrams (Fobbit), Christine Schutt (Prosperous Friends), and Megan Mayhew Bergman (Birds of a Lesser Paradise). Of these five, ZoBell is the only one I associate with flash fiction–Schutt even admitted to “misunderstanding the assignment,” and read a standalone-worthy chapter from her novel–but White did a solid job of pointing out the effective flashlike elements of each selection during his introductions.

After the event, I got to chat briefly with White, ZoBell, and Bergman, as well as Festival Committee member Jodi Paloni, whom I forgot to congratulate for winning the 2013 Short Story America Prize for Short Fiction (for her story “Deep End”).

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