Fall for the Book Hits the Halfway Mark

As Fall for the Book’s third day unfolded on campus and around the region, I spent most of the day indulging in one of the high-points of any literary festival: spending much of the afternoon one-on-one with a great writer — specifically, in this case, ferrying Garrett Epps from Union Station to an event in Loudoun County and then back to Mason’s Fairfax Campus for a second event.

While it’s fun to have some up close and personal time with most any author, Epps proved particularly charming, and I was pleased to find some unexpected connections between his life and mine. He wrote for many years in the 1980s for the Independent Weekly in the Triangle area of North Carolina, a publication which was the rival newspaper for The Spectator, where I worked in the 1990s — and other aspects of the area where we’d each lived provided great common ground for conversation. Epps too was good friends with many of the professors who taught me when I was earning my MFA at Mason. And we had a nice (if too brief!) chat about politics in novels. His first novel, The Shad Treatment, has been called the “definitive Virginia political novel,” and aspects of my own novel-in-progress use as its backdrop one of the great political battles of North Carolina history, the Helms-Hunt senatorial showdown of the mid-1980s. 

Add Epps’ book to my reading list, of course — even if some bad timing between my schedule and the bookstore’s schedule today kept me from getting a signed copy. 

Tuesday night’s programming ended with a terrific staged reading  of Alan Bennett’s naughty little play Habeas Corpus. Mason’s Theatre of the First Amendment brought a great cast to the Old Town Village Gallery, and the crowd would’ve been standing room only if we hadn’t kept adding chairs.

Still more ahead, of course. Wednesday’s schedule includes writers across a diverse range of genres: journalists Ariel Sabar and Jonny Steinberg, poet Eric Pankey, former VA governor turned memoirist Linwood Holton, and acclaimed novelist Ethan Canin.  The full schedule is below!


10 a.m.
Children’s and Young Adult Author Chris Crutcher
Potomac Falls High School, 46400 Algonkian Parkway, Sterling, VA
As part of the Fall for the Book’s annual High School Reads Program, the author, whose latest book is Deadline, shares insights about writing with high school students from across Loudoun County. Sponsored by Baker & Taylor book wholesalers. If you would like to attend this event please contact the school office at 571-434-3200 for information about seating.

11 a.m. — Richard Wright’s 100th Birthday
Research I, Room 163
A panel of scholars, including Aime Ellis, James Miller, and Maryemma Graham, assess the legacy of one of the country’s greatest African American writers, author of Black Boy, Native Son and other classics.

11:30 a.m. — Exploring the Iraq War Through Poetry
Provident Bank Tent, Outside Johnson Center
Brian Turner, Melissa Tuckey, and others share poetry about the war. A reception follows. Sponsored by Mason’s Office of University Life.

12 p.m. —4:30 p.m. — Paperback Swap
North Plaza, Outside the Johnstojn Center
Volition, Mason’s undergraduate journal of literature and art, hosts a paperback swap.

12:30—3:30 p.m. — Poetry-on-Demand!
Near the Provident Bank Tent, Outside Johnson Center
The University Writing Center hosts a Poetry-on-Demand table, with students from Mason’s MFA Program in Creative Writing offering original verses in a minutes!

2 p.m. — Journalist Eric Lichtblau
Provident Bank Tent, Outside Johnson Center
A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Lichtblau discusses his new book, Bush’s Law: The Remaking of American Justice.

2 p.m. — Tuskegee Airman Christopher Robinson and Author George Norfleet
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), 4210 Roberts Road, Fairfax, VA
Robinson and Norfleet share stories from their collaborative memoir, A Pilot’s Journey: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman, Curtis Christopher Robinson. Co-sponsored by the Friends of the Sherwood Regional Library and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

3 p.m. — Journalist and Memoirist Ariel Sabar
Provident Bank Tent, Outside Johnson Center
Noted journalist Sabar shares stories from his new book, My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq.

3 p.m. — Author/Producer Bruce George and Publisher Lisa Moore
Student Union Building II, Room 5
The co-creator of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and the founder of Red Bone Press discuss the challenges and rewards of publishing minority authors, including gang members, black lesbians, and gay men. Co-sponsored by Mason’s Office of University Life, Office of Diversity Programs and Services and Weekend Initiatives.

4 p.m. — Photographer Nancy Crampton
Lobby, Center for the Arts
The official photographer of the Unterberg Poetry Center at New York’s 92nd Street Y discusses images from her collection Writers, featuring some of the nation’s leading literary luminaries.

4:30 p.m. — Journalist Jonny Steinberg
Provident Bank Tent, Outside Johnson Center
The award-winning South African journalist reads from Sizwe’s Test: A Young Man’s Journey Through Africa’s AIDS Epidemic. Sponsored by Mason’s Office of University Life.

4:30 p.m. — Mason Provost Peter Stearns
Research I, Room 163
With more than 100 books to his credit, Mason Provost Stearns draws on his observations and research to offer insights into America’s present by looking into its past. Sponsored by the George Mason University Libraries. Followed by a reception and exhibition of Stearns’ books.

5:30 p.m. — Poets Eric Pankey, Caren Scott, and Ryan Walker
The Bistro, Johnson Center
Acclaimed poet Pankey, author most recently of of The Pear As One Example: New and Selected Poems, joins up-and-coming poets Scott and Walker. A reception follows. Sponsored by Phoebe: A Journal of Literature and Art.

5:30 p.m. — Craft Talk with Ethan Canin
Gold Room, Johnson Center
Canin, a faculty member at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and author most recently of America America, hosts a talk on the art and craft of fiction.

6 p.m.
Short Story Writers Nicole Shivers and Tahra Nicols
Busboys and Poets, 2021 14th Street, Washington, DC
The co-authors of Maddening Behaviors: Some I Hear, A Lot I See share stories of eleven young women who leave America to find adventure in Africa. Co-sponsored by the Friends of the Sherwood Regional Library and Busboys and Poets.

7 p.m. — Novelist and Comedienne Alison Larkin
Oakton Library, 10304 Lynnhaven Place, Oakton, VA
In the bestselling novel The English American, Alison Larkin draws further from her experiences as an adopted English woman who finds her birth parents — and a new homeland — in the United States.

7 p.m. — Novelist Jenny Gardiner
Potbelly Sandwich Works, 3955 Chainbridge Road, Fairfax, VA
The author reads from her smart, sassy debut novel, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver. Co-sponsored by Potbelly and the City of Fairfax.

7:30 p.m. — Former Governor Linwood Holton
City of Fairfax Regional Library, 10360 North Street, Fairfax, VA
The first Republican to govern Virginia since Reconstruction — and the governor who signed George Mason University into existence — shares excerpts from his memoir, Opportunity Time.

7:30 p.m. — Novelist Ethan Canin
The Bistro, Johnson Center
Canin reads from his highly acclaimed new political novel, America America—which the Washington Post called “a worthy successor to Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men.” A reception precedes the reading at 7 p.m.

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