Herding authors at the Printers Row Lit Fest 

Two days and a couple square blocks of literacy

Dan Rather and dozens of others speak and read at the Printers Row Lit Fest.

Dan Rather and dozens of others speak and read at the Printers Row Lit Fest.

Book it over to the 28th Printers Row Lit Fest—this year hosting 160 author events, 200 booksellers, and an estimated 125,000 fans of the writer's art. Here are the highlights, chronologically:

First thing Saturday, June 9, former CBS news anchor Dan Rather discusses his new autobiography, Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News, with Tribune reporter Rick Kogan (Sat 10 AM, Harold Washington Center, 400 S. State). At the same hour, two authors of Chicago-centric collections, Michael Czyzniejewski and Dmitry Samarov, share a stage. Czyzniejewski wrote Chicago Stories: 40 Dramatic Fictions, which includes short pieces like "Rod Blagojevich Negotiates His First Prison Tattoo, Joliet State Penitentiary"; Samarov's Hack: Stories From a Chicago Cab captures the prostitutes, drunks, and Cubs fans he's chauffeured around (Sat 10 AM, University Center, 525 S. State).

The 16-year-old heroine of Bonnie Jo Campbell's Once Upon a River rafts through rural Michigan, rifle in hand, while the 14-year-old narrator of Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones shepherds her siblings through Hurricane Katrina. Since there's no way for the fictional two to face off, a conversation between the authors will have to do (Sat 11:15 AM, Grace Place, 637 S. Dearborn).

Jules Feiffer has won an Oscar for animation, an Obie for playwriting, and a Pulitzer for political cartooning. He discusses his work with Tribune reporter Christopher Borelli (Sat noon, Trib Nation Stage, Dearborn between Harrison and Polk).

Former U.S. senator Adlai E. Stevenson III speaks with Tribune editorial page editor Bruce Dold about The Black Book, a compendium of notes and sayings and such collected by AES III's illustrious namesakes, U.S. vice president AES and Illinois governor AES II (Sat 1 PM, University Center). Then change rooms for an encounter between two stars of literary nonfiction: Alex Kotlowitz and Friday Night Lights author Buzz Bissinger (Sat 1:45 PM, University Center).

click to enlarge Gillian Flynn
  • Gillian Flynn

Mystery writer Gillian Flynn told the Reader last year that she copes with the darkness of her work by watching clips from Singin' in the Rain. So keep the DVD handy if you attend her talk with Tribune literary editor Elizabeth Taylor (Sat 2 PM, Grace Place). The day shudders to a close with Female Protagonists in Thrillers, a panel discussion featuring Libby Fischer Hellmann, Julie Kramer, David Ellis, Jamie Freveletti, and Raymond Benson (Sat 4 PM, University Center).

On Sunday, Jonathan Eig—who turned thousands of pages of government documents into the blood-spattered biography Get Capone—hosts a panel featuring fellow biographers Jim Newton, Stacy Cordery, and Natalie Dykstra (Sun 11:30 AM, University Center). Later in the day Eig teams up with Chicago crime novelist Charlie Newton to lead Tell Them What They Know—The Urban Writers Workshop (Sun 3 PM, University Center).

Brigid Pasulka won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award in 2010 for exploring her Polish roots in A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True. Here she moderates a discussion among Samuel Park, Natalie Bakopoulos, and Marisel Vera, all of whom likewise draw on their ethnic heritage in their work (Sun 12:15 PM, Wyndham Blake Hotel, 500 S. Dearborn). Already the author of a memoir about starring in a Chinese soap opera called Foreign Babes in Beijing, Rachel DeWoskin has a new novel called Big Girl Small. She appears with fellow novelists Joe Meno and Leigh Stein (Sun 1:45 PM, University Center).

As the day winds down, there's a drinks demo with mixologist Charles Joly (Sun 2:30 PM, Good Eating Stage, Harrison and Plymouth). Alternatively, you could hit the City vs. Country panel, featuring mystery writer/bar owner Michael Harvey. Fellow writers Bryan Gruley and Kevin Guilfoile participate, along with Tribune lit critic Julia Keller. (Sun 2:45 PM, Center Stage, Plymouth between Harrison and Polk).

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More by Rebecca Cohen

Agenda Teaser

Galleries & Museums
Tseng Kwong Chi: Performing for the Camera Northwestern University Block Museum of Art
September 17
Performing Arts
La Gringa Urban Theater Company
November 12

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