“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read,” said Mark Twain, a man whose quotes (some of which he actually uttered) are passed around the Internet with welcome regularity.
Here’s another one I love: “A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.”
Well, we’ll likely be cussing our bankers this weekend at the Tucson Festival of Books. The massive extravaganza of words and ideas on the University of Arizona Mall looks to be a windy, soggy affair. But it will proceed as planned, organizers say.
Wandering around aimlessly at this annual festival, now in its fifth year, is normally not a bad way to discover fascinating authors, panels and discussions.
But because of the forecast (snow flurries on Saturday?!), advance planning looks like a must this year.
Go online to the schedule and you’ll find a staggering variety of authors and presentations spread over Saturday and Sunday. You’ll be overwhelmed by the possibilities, but better to navigate the behemoth schedule in your living room than huddled under a stray copy of the Daily Wildcat on the mall.
You should know that you won’t have to brave the elements, though. That’s because every talk, every author appearance, is either under a tent or safely indoors at the student union or elsewhere.
In other words, you’ll kick yourself if you let the weather scare you away from the Festival of Books. It’s Tucson’s most surprising and inspiring annual event (with the possible exception of the All Souls Procession in November).
Here’s my plan, for what it’s worth:
Saturday at 10 a.m.: Timothy Egan talking about his new book “The Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis” at the Gallagher Theater.
Saturday at 11:30: Douglas Brinkley on Walter Cronkite (Room 204, Koffler building).
Saturday at 1 p.m.: Chuck Klosterman on American Popular Culture (UA Mall tent).
Saturday at 2:30: Timothy Egan (can you tell I’m a fan of this guy) and others on Teddy Roosevelt and the Battle for Public Land (Room 204, Koffler).
Saturday at 4: Panel on True Crime: Murder and the Criminal Mind with Deanne Stillman and others (Room 150, Integrated Learning Center).
Sunday at 10 a.m.: Tom Zoellner and others on Minerals, War & Humanity (Room 140 of Integrated Learning Center) OR a panel discussion on History in Fiction with Jennifer Lee Carrell and others (Room 130, Integrated Learning Center).
Sunday at 1 p.m.: A Conversation with Writer/Director John Sayles (Room 111 of Chemistry building) OR a panel discussion featuring Richard Shelton: Words from the Pen: 40 Years of Prison Writing Workshops (Ventana Room of the Student Union).
Sunday at 2:30: Larry Watson on Capturing Place and Time in Fiction (Tucson Room, Student Union).
Sunday at 4: Jen Lancaster’s presentation, “Here I Go Again” (UA Bookstore).
Just one more thing. Does anybody have a spare umbrella?