The New Yorker Festival was really fun. Next year, my friend and I agreed to be more on top of it so we can get into more events--apparently they're like NKOTB tixx were in the 80s, you need to call as soon as the phones open to get the events you want. Crazy! But the events we did go to were amazing.
Friday night we saw Tobias Wolf and Donald Antrim. They read from a short story and memoir (respectively). While the readings were good, the Q&A really made the night. The people asked such great questions (not your typical: what's your process like? Where do you get your ideas?). I don't think that has anything to do with New Yorkers being smahhter than us Bostonians. Last I checked we have just a few geniuses in our midst. I think it was because people paid $25 to go to the reading, whereas the readings I go to hear are usually free. A paid event probably draws a crowd more dedicated to writing. But in any case, I learned a lot about how writers think about the responsibility that goes along with writing memoirs and essays, and how stories can leave readers with moral questions and still feel complete.
The next day we saw Gary Kasparov, the 20-year chess champion, talk about chess and Russian politics. Highly educational and interesting. It even made me want to take up chess in my (haha) free time.
But by far the best part of the weekend? The fiction editor of the New Yorker introduced the Friday reading. I forget his name and it doesn't really matter. What matters is the fact that he is a real, live person. I had thought of NYer editors as gods of some sort, and it made me laugh to realize he's just a cute, goofy 40-something year old who wears a sports jacket with jeans and gets nervous when speaking to a crowd.