Panel: A Life in Books

The Marsh Berkeley hosted by Bay Area Book Festival Berkeley, CA

About the Panel:

Each of us has a different, and beautiful, relationship with the books we read…and write. That is no less true if you’ve just published your first, as legendary librarian Dorothy Lazard has with her memoir What You Don’t Know Will Make a Whole New World, than it is for Joan Frank, with a dozen publications and multiple fellowships under her belt. It’s also true, of course, for Pulitzer Prize winners like Jane Smiley, long acclaimed as one of America’s preeminent novelists. Frank’s most recent collection, Late Work: A Literary Autobiography of Love, Loss, and What I Was Reading, has been hailed as “one of the best books on writing and the writing life I have ever read” (Joel Agee, author of The Stone World). Smiley, perhaps best known for her fiction, has been known to pen the occasional nonfiction bestseller as well. Her latest, The Questions that Matter Most: Reading, Writing, and the Exercise of Freedom, is a deep dive into her own personal journey and craft. In her memoir, Lazard describes discovering the power of books during the turbulent 1960s and 70s in Oakland, and then sharing that power with countless children and others. Each of these authors has had a decades-long love affair with books; in this session, moderated by literary champion extraordinaire John Freeman, they’ll tell you not only what they were reading, but how it affected them and their work.

About Late Work:

Curious, ruminative, and wry, this literary autobiography tours what Rachel Kushner called “the strange remove that is the life of the writer.” Frank’s essays cover a vast spectrum–from handling dismissive advice, facing the dilemma of thwarted ambition, and copying the generosity that inspires us, to the miraculous catharsis of letter-writing and some of the books that pull us through. Useful for writers at any stage of development, Late Work offers a seasoned artist’s thinking through the exploration of issues, paradoxes, and crises of faith. Like a lively conversation with a close, outspoken friend, each piece tells its experience from the trenches.

About Joan Frank:

Joan Frank is the award-winning author of a number of books of literary fiction and essays including Because You Have To: A Writing Life and All the News I Need: A Novel. She lives with her husband, playwright Bob Duxbury, in the North Bay Area of California.