Walter Benjamin wrote about the baleful influence of the daily newspaper in one of his essays (was it “One-Way Street”?), saying that the front page stories, which usually had nothing to do with each other, were mere recipes for distraction, working against any kind of serious, concentrated thought. Walter, meet the AWP.
I was going to stay two days but this morning decided to drive back home today. But first I’ll stop by “The Return of Aphrodite’s Daughter” and “Cunty Faggots: Who Can Say What?” (that second one particularly rich at an event which has canonized censorship). And then there’s the plaintive “Who Reads Us?” Not me.
And those are just a few of 200 panels and readings on offer at today’s proceedings: there were 200 yesterday and there’ll be 200 tomorrow – “Into the Valley of Death / Rode the 200.” Surely the main attraction, though, is the Bookfair, 800 or so U.S. literary presses and/or MFA programs for the disaffected young and restless.
The word of the hour is “overwhelming,” and purely as a display of institutional force, it’s impressive. Do the assembled multitudes craving fabled So Cal sunshine even blink at the posses of identity politics? I saw some old friends and old students, which was good, and people I’d known only through BuffPo, which was odd.
The security detail was elaborate, ushering me from a table at the bookfair where I had begun these notes, and that will be my final memory. Stephen has become Stephanie, assorted colors wave their banners and agents discuss the new agenting.
Plug in your laptops and fire up the twitter feeds: papa’s got a brand old bag.
– Joe Safdie