The Burlington Book Festival

I awoke at daybreak, and gathered my belongings. After petting our old blind poodle, and tossing my bags into the car, I headed north toward Interstate 91. With the cruise control set, I was able to reflect on my journey and the times I’d taken this same route in years gone by. Some of my first driving adventures had happened on 91, and I passed the scenes one by one.

First there was the embankment we’d gone down, when Juke’s VW Bus lost it on the ice. Then there was the long downhill grade, the one where the Vermont State police were waiting with a radar gun that said 124MPH. That one was good for a trip to the local jail. It seemed like every mile held some kind of memory.

I made the turn onto I-89 as the sun came out. The world changed from black and white to Technicolor. I passed a long line of Harleys, twenty-plus bikes holding the left hand lane.

Arriving in Burlington, I checked the web, where I was delighted to find Look Me in the Eye recommended in the Washington Post

On that note, I went in search of the Festival. I found it, along with hosts Rick, Elaine, and Shay, in a long building overlooking the waterfront. The festival was going full tilt, with events running in three spots all the time. They had quite an impressive roster of authors, as you can see:

I am embarrassed to say I was too shy to actually meet most of the authors, but I had fun anyway.

My talk was scheduled for one o’clock, which was taped by Burlington Community Television. I’ll post a link as soon as it’s available online. Afterwards, I signed books and spoke to people in the main lobby, until Shay appeared to take me to my next appointment.

He’d organized a smaller gathering at a local school library – about twenty younger Aspergians, and some parents and teachers. That was very interesting, with a lot of good discussion.

As soon as that ended, I was off to the hotel to check in – Rick had gotten me a room at the Mariott with a view of the water – and then it was time for the author’s dinner. There was no real plan for the seating, so I milled around until a plan emerged.

My seat mates proved a most enjoyable lot. On my right was award winning novelist Ann Hood – author of The Knitting Circle and nine other books written over a 22 year period. To my left sat Crystal Zevon, the widow or ex-wife of musician Warren Zevon. She was there with her book I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead – the dirty life and times of Warren Zevon. Between them was noted music critic Anthony DeCurtis, author of In Other Words: Artists Talk About Life and Work, and editor of the Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock’n’Roll.

It was a long but fun day by the time I crawled upstairs to bed at 11.
This morning, I did a radio interview with Burlington radio host Ann Barbano. You’ll be able to download that soon. After a brief stop at the Festival, I was off for home.

And now it’s back to the world of cars.


Chantal OConnor said…
I was at the small group discussion at the school library and really appreciated the opportunity. It was a great author and great group because it had various ages / situations present; the questions led to informative and very interesting information provided by John. How I wish many of our educators, guidance counselors, administrators, and psychologist could be present for such group discussion; seems as if them hearing the dialogue between folks that were there would be really beneficial. It would be good for them to not be allowed to participate and only listen; then have a dedicated block for them to be active participants. Anyhow – thanks very much John (and Shay for organizing this group). Hope to meet up again some day! Take care.

Chantal OConnor (mom of Sean)
Jericho, VT
Anonymous said…
I noticed you'll be in Buffalo in October. Any chance you'll stay for the Alternatives 2008 conference there, at the end of October?
(information is at
I love Burlington. Pretty city. Hey, I saw your ad in the NYT today! Cool! I blogged it. WOOF!

Polly Kahl said…
What an incredible lineup of writers, John. Glad you got to sit next to Crystal Zevon. With your history of working with rock bands I'm sure you two found a lot to talk about. Nonetheless it always feels good to get home at the end of the day instead of having to crawl into another hotel bed, ja?
Amanda said…
Congratulations on your paperback issue John, and an ad in the Times to boot!! It's on my Christmas wish list right at the top.
Kanani said…
Hey everyone,
I'm meeting John for dinner tonight in West Hollywood. Stop by my blog to see pics and such.
~ ANNE said…
Hi John! Anne from Burlington here. Just wanted to let you and readers know - the interview I taped with you will be airing on the home page of the radiator this Wednesday Sept. 24, 2008 at 10:00am
I definitely want to catch up again John and hope the car show was fun this weekend. Saw some models in Burlington this weekend and thought of you. Thank you again John , be well and catch you soon! ~ ANNE
Sandra Cormier said…
Been through Burlington and loved it. I'm glad you made it through those winding roads unscathed, and that you're making through so many public appearances unscathed, too.
Unknown said…
Did you tell Mr. DeCurtis that some of your work is probably in that history of Rock N Roll (all night and party every day)

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