Quick preview of the 2012 Savannah Book Festival

My Tuesday City Talk column is going to be about the lower than anticipated retail sales associated with the Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, and for Do on Thursday, my Man About Town column is about Saturday’s No Control Festival.

So tonight I just wanted to post very quickly about the Savannah Book Festival, which continues to grow, evolve, and develop.

The Savannah Morning News has a huge amount of coverage on this page.

Click the pic at left to view the PDF for the entire schedule for Feb. 15-19.

There are several major headlining events: Walter Isaacson, the author of the acclaimed Steve Jobs biography; iconic Southern novelist Pat Conroy, who is a witty and engaging public speaker; and Stephen King, in a sold out appearance on Sunday. Even though he lives right up the road, Conroy has not made a public talk like this in Savannah in my memory. He appeared at the announcement of the 2010 National Book Award finalists in a lovely event at the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home when I was president of the organization, but our subsequent attempts to get him to appear in Savannah came to naught.

For all the focus on those events, the real magic of the SBF is the Saturday gathering in Telfair Square, when authors will be giving presentations at the Telfair Museums’ Jepson Center and old Academy, at Trinity United Methodist Church, and in a tent in the square. It’s a great celebration of books and ideas and authors — and of Savannah’s literary traditions.

Click here to read more about the authors.

I should add that there has been some consternation in some quarters about changes to this year’s festival. There used to be a venue devoted solely to poetry, but there’s only one poet — Mark Jarman — listed among the authors this year. That change obviously leaves room for other authors, including an increase in the number of fiction writers. The 2012 SBF also seems to have dramatically scaled back its vending options for local authors, organizations, and retailers. I don’t recall hearing the rationale for this, but it has angered a number of those who were big supporters of the SBF in its first four years.

Still, there are all sorts of appearances on Saturday of particular interest to Savannahians, including Hugh Stiles Golson and Jennifer Guthrie Ryan, authors of a newish book about Andrew Low, and Dawn Baker, longtime local broadcast journalist talking about her new book Dawn’s Daughter.