By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
Virtually every member of Florida International University's writing faculty will be at the biggest event. Les Standiford, director of the creative writing program, presents his newest nonfiction work, The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits. Professors Jim Hall (Hell's Bay), John Dufresne (Requiem, Mass.), Denise Duhamel (Afortunada de mí/Lucky Me), and Campbell McGrath (Seven Notebooks) will also speak.
Their former students, too, will make appearances. Anjanette Delgado, an Emmy-award-winning TV writer, will read from her first novel, The Heartbreak Pill, while Preston L. Allen takes to the podium with All or Nothing, a fictional work about the rise and fall of a famous gambler. Their star pupil, Mystic River author Dennis Lehane, will be here as well, rekindling his own South Florida connection — he now spends part of the year living in St. Petersburg and teaching at Eckerd College. "I've known Mitchell [Kaplan] from Books & Books forever," Lehane recalls. "He got me on a panel at the book fair when my first book came out. I think, like, four people showed up, but it meant a lot to me."
It's a safe bet the crowd will be larger this time around. Critics have lauded his newest novel, The Given Day, a departure from his grimy Patrick Kenzie thrillers in its re-creation of a riotous 1919 Boston police strike. And Lehane's audience has exploded since movies made from his novels Gone Baby Gone and Mystic River, directed by Ben Affleck and Clint Eastwood, respectively, garnered several Oscar nods and a win for Best Actor. "I keep saying this, but there's no connection whatsoever between the films and my writing. I never give it a thought, not even a fleeting thought," Lehane says. "When I'm writing, it's between me and one reader. My job is to connect with this imaginary reader, seduce them almost into listening to what I'm trying to tell them."
The writer can't quite believe how well Hollywood has treated his work. Martin Scorsese is now directing another of Lehane's books, Shutter Island, and is said to have Leonardo DiCaprio lined up for the starring role. "I didn't tell anyone about Scorsese," he says. "When the announcement came out, one of the first e-mails I got was from a good buddy of mine, another writer who's going through the whole Hollywood thing. I opened it and all it said was 'Fuck you.' I mean, what else do you say when the reality is this amazing?"
Miami Book Fair International takes place November 9 through 16. It kicks off November 8 at the Arsht Center with performances by Florida Grand Opera, the Unity on the Bay Choir, the New World School of the Arts symphony orchestra, Ballet Gamonet, Momentum Dance Company, Actors Playhouse, and GableStage. The ever-popular street fair ends the event and closes downtown to all but the literate. For complimentary tickets to the inaugural ceremony, call 305-949-6722 or visit www.arshtcenter.org. Free tickets to all the Evenings with ... presentations, held at the downtown campus of Miami Dade College, are required. Check out www.miamibookfair.com to reserve yours.
All book fair readings will take place at Miami Dade Colleges Wolfson Campus (300 NE Second Ave., Miami). The biggest events will happen at Chapman (Building 3, 2nd Floor). Among them:
Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, Sunday, November 9, 7 p.m.
Brian Greene, Tuesday, November 11, 8 p.m.
Russell Banks and Derek Walcott, Friday, November 14, 6 p.m.
Billy Collins, Robert Hass, and Mark Strand, Friday, November 14, 8 p.m.
Dexter Filkins, Sunday, November 16, 4 p.m.
Salman Rushdie, Sunday, November 16, 6 p.m.
Other programs at MDC include:
Dennis Lehane, Saturday, November 15, 10 a.m., in the auditorium.
Art Spiegelman, Saturday, November 15, 11:45 a.m. at Chapman and 2:45 p.m. at PEN; Sunday, November 16, 1 p.m., on the Target Childrens Stage.
Jim Morin, Sunday, November 16, 2 p.m., Room 7128.
Edna Buchanan, Sunday, November 16, 4 p.m., Room 3208-09.