You usually run into people you know at book festivals, but the one I did this past weekend felt more like a mini-reunion.
It started when a former editor of mine invited me to speak about “The Class of ’65” at the first-ever Allatoona Book Festival in Acworth, northwest of Atlanta. Since we worked together at the AJC, Ellen Kennerly has become executive director of the Acworth Cultural Arts Center, the group that staged the event. That’s her on the right in the photo. The person on the left is another Ellen -- Ellen Ward of the FoxTale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, who was a classmate of mine at Avondale High School.
There’s more: The picture was taken by Teresa Weaver, another editor of mine, who was also on the program because of her long tenure as book critic at the AJC. She came to the festival with Valerie Boyd, another former colleague of ours, who was on a panel to share her experiences as a successful biographer of Zora Neale Hurston.
Not done yet: The speaker before me was an old friend, author Eric Haney, who came with his wife, Dianna Edwards, another former AJCer. And when I took the podium, I looked out and saw Brian O’Shea, yet another former newspaper colleague. (Rest assured, there were many people in the audience I had not worked with or gone to school with.)
It was nice to see so many familiar faces. After my presentation, we had a lively question-and-answer session about the book’s themes of forgiveness and reconciliation -- and the limits thereof -- and we talked about the state of race relations in America. All in all, it reminded me of some of the difficult but important discussions we used to have during story meetings at the newspaper.
Thanks for inviting me, Ellen, and good luck to the Allatoona Book Festival. We need more book festivals in Georgia.