Novello's headliners met the idea's ideal

10/31/2008 12:00 AM

10/31/2008 10:46 PM

A colleague stopped by my desk recently and announced: “This is my favorite time of year.”

She was referring not to autumn but to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg library's just-ended Novello Festival of Reading.

Every October, Novello offers a smorgasbord of authors with provocative ideas and great stories. This year, headliner Khaled Hosseini (“The Kite Runner”) attracted 2,300 people, breaking the 18-year-old festival's attendance records.

There were many great moments. Among my favorites:

Graphic novelist Alison Bechdel, equipped with PowerPoint, showing the evolution of a single page of her acclaimed memoir “Fun Home,” from early sketches to final product.

She also revealed how graphic novelist Harvey Pekar (“American Splendor”) conveys his vision to his illustrators. Pekar, unlike many graphic novelists, doesn't draw his own stuff. Instead, he draws frames with dialogue and little stick figures.

Bechdel displayed a page of Pekar's that she used as a road map to illustrate one of his stories. “Aren't these little stick figures evocative?” she asked. They really were.

John Hart describing “the tragic mistake” of setting his best-seller “The King of Lies” in his hometown of Salisbury. The problem: Some people are convinced that a couple of unsavory characters are modeled after Salisbury residents. Not true, he says. And if you see anyone from Salisbury, please pass along his message.

Colson Whitehead (“John Henry Days”) doing a spoof critique of T.S. Eliot's “Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock”: “You're worried they'll say, ‘His hair is growing thin.' Well, get some plugs! There's no stigma anymore.”

Librarian Nancy Pearl (“Book Lust”) revealing the magnitude of her book addiction. Pearl recalled her first thought after accidentally locking herself in a hotel bathroom: “Oh, my God, I'm locked in the bathroom and I have nothing to read.”

If you enjoyed Novello, the Friends of the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County want you to join up. The nonprofit group advocates and raises money for the library system. This year, the group sponsored a Novello event with Sara Paretsky, creator of the V.I. Warshawski detective novels. To find out more: www.plcmc.org/about_us/ get_involved/friendsoflib.asp.

Kozol at Lenoir-Rhyne

U.S. education expert Jonathan Kozol, author of “Letters to a Young Teacher,” speaks at 8 p.m. Thursday at Lenoir-Rhyne University's P.E. Monroe Auditorium in Hickory. Kozol's free talk is part of Lenoir-Rhyne's Visiting Writers series. His other books include “The Shame of the Nation” and “Savage Inequalities.”

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