November 5th, 2008 | by JOHN MINERVINI News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP, Multnomah County

TOME RAIDER: a Must-See Guide to Wordstock

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Each week, WW writer John Minervini brings you the latest in book reviews, author Q&A's and Portland literary gossip. Click here to join the Tome Raider mailing list.

When it comes to Wordstock (Nov. 6-9), bibliophiles are spoiled for choice. In fact, the geeky excitement of getting to meet all those novelists, poets, comic artists and other princes of paper is almost matched by the anxiety of trying to choose from among all the hundreds of presentations. Face it; there are 185 writers doing their thing(s) on 9 stages for two full days—there's no way you're gonna see it all.

Fortunately for you, you've got a literary sherpa—a wizened (& thoroughly underpaid) native guide who knows the lay of the land and will show you the most auspicious route. He answers to the name of Tome Raider.

Tome Raider

An actual photo of the Tome Raider, sighted high in the Hindu Kush, reading Hermann Hesse.

So, with a little help from Wordstock executive director Greg Netzer, Tome Raider proudly announces...the WW Must-See Guide to Wordstock! Because you'd love to spend all weekend kiting around town to readings and workshops, but, well...you've got other stuff to do.

*** = highly recommended. (except where otherwise mentioned, all events are free and open to the public.)

Thursday

*** Poetry Slam: 9 pm @ the Bagdad Theater. Tickets $15
(777 3702 SE Hawthorne Blvd. 236-9234, wordstockfestival.com)

This is slam royalty, folks. Six of the nation's best performance poets—Anis Mojgani, Karen Finneyfrock, Buddy Wakefield, Jodie Knowles, Derrick Brown & Tara Hardy—are fighting for a grand prize of $1500. Even if you don't dig poetry, this event is bound to be shocking, rhetorically explosive & hilarious. Not for nothing is it billed as Wordstock's “liveliest.”

Saturday

*** Panel, Comics & Politics: 1 pm @ the University of Oregon Stage
(Exhibit Hall D, Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE ML King Blvd., wordstockfestival.com)

How do you write about politics in a way that people want to read? Try using illustrations. According to moderator Douglas Wolk, “The history of comics & politics goes back almost as far as the history of comics themselves.” This panel ought to know—it includes politically-charged superstars Spain Rodriguez (Trashman), Patrick Rosenkranz (Rebel Visions) & Alison Bechdel (Dykes to Watch Out For).

Ehud Havazelet: 10:30 am @ the Mountain Writers Stage
(Room d-137, Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE ML King Blvd., wordstockfestival.com)

Oregon writer Havazelet's first novel, Like Never Before—about a father and son in Queens—garnered high praise from critics. His new book, Bearing the Body—a psychologically intricate tale of a New York man who tries to reconstruct his dead brother's troubled life—is up for an OBA. Come find out why.

Laird Hamilton: 10:30 am @ the Powell's Books Stage
(Exhibit Hall D, Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE ML King Blvd., wordstockfestival.com)

Laird Hamilton leads a charmed life. He's a professional surfer and activist who divides his time between Malibu and Maui; he's married to volleyball hottie Gabrielle Reece; he models men's clothing, and most recently, he's written a book, Force of Nature. Come get him to sign a copy or bless your offspring or whatever.

Don Malarkey: 10:30 am @ the University of Oregon Stage
(Exhibit Hall D, Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE ML King Blvd., wordstockfestival.com)

You remember the hit HBO World War II miniseries Band of Brothers? Well, Don Malarkey is one of the real-life brothers. This soldier from Salem, OR, has recently written a memoir about his military experiences, Easy Company Soldier. As a hometown hero, he's sure to draw a crowd.

*** Live Wire Wordstock Extravaganza: 8 pm @ the Aladdin Theater. Tickets $25
(3017 SE Milwaukie Ave., 233-1994, click here for tickets)

What's not to love? Daily Show correspondent and Apple Computer funny man John Hodgman headlines a list of literary celebrities, including cartoonist Lynda Barry, folk musician John Coulton, two-time US national slam poetry champion Anis Mojgani, graphic artist Alison Bechdel and NPR producer Jay Allison. If you can afford it, this will be the festival's best event.

Sunday

Andre Dubus: 1:30 pm @ the Powell's Books Stage
(Exhibit Hall D, Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE ML King Blvd., wordstockfestival.com)

Very few writers can please critics and move paper. Andre Dubus is one. A former bounty hunter who took up the quill, he's best known for House of Sand and Fog, the story of a struggling family of Iranian immigrants. Oprah dug it, and you will too, but don't stop there. Dubus' new novel, Garden of Last Days, is conceptually ambitious, and it's got a real thumper of a twist ending.

Brad Matsen: 10:30 am @ the University of Oregon Stage
(Exhibit Hall D, Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE ML King Blvd., wordstockfestival.com)

Think you've heard everything there is to know about the sinking of the Titanic? Think again. In his new book, Titanic's Last Secrets, Brad Matsen has incorporated mammoth amounts of research into a smoothly-written, unexpected and engaging account of the vessel's last hours above water.

William Least Heat-Moon: 1:30 pm @ the University of Oregon Stage
(Exhibit Hall D, Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE ML King Blvd., wordstockfestival.com)

Americans do their best travel writing in the wake of personal crises. It's true of Elizabeth Gilbert; it's true of Jim Harrison; but it all started with William Least Heat-Moon. In 1978, after Heat-Moon lost his job and separated from his wife, he figured, why not hit the road? His subsequent bestselling travelogues have attracted a huge following and changed the way the world thinks of the American landscape.

*** Oregon Book Awards: 7:30 pm @ the Portland Art Museum. Tickets $15
(1219 SW Park Ave., 227-2583, literary-arts.org)

Come bump elbows with Oregon's book elite at this plush event from Literary Arts, Inc. Each year, they present writers working in poetry, fiction, literary nonfiction, drama and YA lit with a fancy dinner and some prizes. Why not dress up and snag some classy appetizers?
 
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