Saturday, April 18, 2009

It' s just about nine on this Saturday night, and I'm actually getting ready to go out. Beth and Sam won't be coming along, since Stasiu's on a Saturday night is no place for an eight-month-old child, and that's where I'm going to wield a bass.

Today was day one of the Kidlit Conference at the Loft, which is not the official title. First, I hadn't been to the Loft space, or Open Book et al, and it's pretty great. I had no idea there was a coffee shop there, with the wifi and everything, and it's only about a block from the Greenway, the part that runs up the lightrail line near the baseball building, whatever it's called. But the conference. I enjoyed it. Most excellent was the lunch. And I'm not just being typical me by focusing on the food. No no. What was great about lunch was the fact that every conference goer signed up for a table based on which member of the faculty would be the center (or something) of the conversation there. F'rinstance, I chose the Patrick Jones table, and therefore the conversation was focused on YA lit, mostly contemporary and realistic. I think the SCBWI conferences I've been to, both local and national, could take a hint from that idea, rather than just letting people sit at random tables and finding out (as happened to me) that they're stuck with a couple of people there on a lark because they want to write children's television, or a woman who lives with nineteen cats and wants to tell you why each and every one of them should have its own chapter book series. (An exaggeration . . . or is it?!)

Oh, by the way, since the last book-review entry here, I read Sara Zarr's Story of a Girl and Heather Duffy Stone's This Is What I Want to Tell You. Zarr's was fantastic. I didn't want to put it down. The protagonist (who reminded me not a little of my own dear Lily) was perfectly voiced and I loved every minute with her. The opening chapter, which sets up the prot's particular psychological background, is a wicked punch in the gut, and it sticks with you as you read on. Very powerful. Oh, p.s., everyone who reads this has to act as witness that I wrote Lily long before I read this! For serious.

Stone's book is also very strong. The absence of quote marks and the alternating POV could have been pretentious, but it worked. My one complaint about this book was that I never got a chance to breathe. I never felt like these characters had a chance to breathe either. While the pace is nice and urgent because of this, and the character's anguish is very clear, I wanted someone to crack a joke or drop some good sarcasm now and then to let me smile.


5 Responses to “Lofty!”
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Alea said...

Open Book is THE BEST! They have some great classes and resources there. And their store is awesome! My favorite comic book store is just down the block, that little area is a good time!

April 18, 2009 at 9:32 PM
Tina Lee said...

Hey, it was nice to meet you at the conference. I appreciated the Loft's lunch procedure as well! It was great to hear what others read. I look forward to more of your blog.

BTW-I'm the shiksa in my household(of course, I guess??) and my husband is Jewish, although local. I don't have much personal stuff in my blog, perhaps I should take a lesson from yours. Oh, all this crazy new territory...

April 20, 2009 at 9:44 AM
jberk said...

I met Patrick Jones once! He's famous for a librarian.

And do you know Kurt Scaletta from these or other MN lit events? I know him from the internet & he is a great guy.

Also, the name of this blog makes me laugh every single time I think about it.

April 21, 2009 at 11:49 AM
Steve Brezenoff said...

Hi, Berk. Glad you like the blog name! I seriously mulled over using it for like two years before I finally did.

Funny you should mention Kurt--I went to his panel on using "Enhancing Your Web Presence as a Writer." I was saddened that only four of us conference goers attended. It was good stuff. But it was scheduled at the same time as "All about Agents," so I guess folks went with that.

April 21, 2009 at 12:00 PM
jberk said...

I was part of a 2009 debut group with Kurt before I got bumped to 2010 and became a Tenner, so that's how I know him. I also know him from Facebook, Twitter, LiveJournal, various forms of online Scrabble, & internet fantasy baseball. So I'd say he's pretty good at the whole "web presence thing!" Ha!

The demographic of "Jews who like Liz Phair and also puns" might not be a very large demographic, but I am certainly a member!

April 21, 2009 at 12:13 PM