Lit Life


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Writing and reading tend to be solitary pursuits, but when you bring writers and readers together at bookstores, libraries, and universities, you are creating a lively, flesh and blood community.

Which is why I am overjoyed to be part of the second annual Evanston Literary Festival that runs from May 4-14.

My part puts me at Bookends and Beginnings on Sunday afternoon at 3 pm on May 8, Mother’s Day, for “Mamapalooza,” an event that the bookstore’s owner Nina Barrett calls “a nonsentimental celebration of motherhood.”

Barrett, also an author on the subject, invited “ten of the most eloquent, articulate chroniclers of mothers and motherhood around for a reading extravaganza centered on motherhood as it really is: its joys and headaches, its laughter and tears, its unexpected rewards and disappointments, and of course, its infuriating tendency to lead to screaming by both the mother and the mothered.”

Definitely territory I covered, as well as few other topics, in my book of essays, Views from the Home Office Window: On Motherhood, Family and Life. This year marks the tenth anniversary of its completion. It was published in 2007.

I’m also honored to be part of this group that also includes Julia Sweeney, Michele Weldon, Toni Nealie, Barbara Mahany, and Freda Love Smith.

Here’s the schedule so you can plan to attend the readings around your Mother’s Day brunch or dinner:

1–2pm | Pamela Ferdinand (Three Wishes) and Gili Sherman (Music From Our Windows)

2–3pm | Freda Love Smith (Red Velvet Underground), Barbara Mahany (Slowing Time: Seeing the Sacred Outside Your Kitchen Door), and Toni Nealie (The Miles Between Me)

3–4pm | Nina Barrett (Her Own Accord: American Women on Identity, Culture, and Community), Michele Weldon (Escape Points: A Memoir), and Ellen Blum Barish (Views From the Home Office Window: On Motherhood, Family, and Life)

4–5pm | Julia Sweeney (If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother) and Julia Claiborne Johnson (Be Frank With Me: A Novel)

After the reading, light refreshments will be served and there will be time to chat with the authors. The reading is free but tickets for the reception are $15 and can be purchased here.

The Evanston Literary Festival is a joint production of Chicago Book Expo, Bookends & Beginnings bookstore, Northwestern University’s Creative Writing Program, and the Evanston Public Library. It was founded by Lynn Haller and John K. Wilson to draw attention to Evanston’s authors, independent bookstores, and literary culture.

More than 50 free events will be taking place at venues around Evanston, including readings and talks by the likes of Audrey Niffenegger, Aleksandar Hemon, Blair Kamin, Amina Gautier, Alexander Chee, and Anne Elizabeth Moore, as well as a newly-produced play, poetry readings, storytelling opportunities, children’s story times, and panel discussions about writing and publishing.

For the full schedule with many more literary events, including times, venues, and descriptions, go to the Evanston Literary Festival site. Events are free and open to the public.

Photo by Ellen Blum Barish. Copyright 2016.