Having cleaned out their home or office, somebody recently set some books out in the editorial bullpen here at New Times about a week ago, in case anybody else might want to take them home. Among them were textbooks: one titled Tensile Structures, another Real Estate Law, Second Edition by none other than (gulp) "Marianne M. Jennings." A third was Rosey Grier's Needlepoint for Men. There was also a potboiler novel, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, by H.F. Saint. At this writing, Memoirs was still sitting there, as was Ms. M. Jennings' manifesto on the legalities of real estate and Mr. Grier's needlework tutorial. Somebody apparently spotted the other volume and thought, "Heeey! Tensile Structures? Darn, this sounds fascinating. Lucky I don't have to get up early tomorrow!"
My point? Only that for some of us, even the dreariest of books are such talismanic objects that passing them up, much less throwing them out, even if no sane person would ever want to read them again, is unthinkable. People of this mindset will be gathering this Saturday to partake of the company of much more promising books and authors than those mentioned above, at the Arizona Book Festival.
More than a hundred authors are scheduled to participate in the Arizona Humanities Council's third annual fest, slated from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Margaret T. Hance Deck Park, Central and Culver, including these 12 featured scribes:
John Nichols -- Best known for The Milagro Beanfield War, the novelist's new work is Dancing on the Stones.
Luis Urrea -- The Tijuana native is the author of Across the Wire: Hard Times on the Mexican Border.
David Lee -- The Pulitzer and National Book Award-nominated poet, author of the collection The Porcine Legacy, is the chairman of the Department of Language and Literature at Southern Utah University, and claims to have been the only white player ever in the Negro League.
Pam Houston -- The author's 1993 collection Cowboys Are My Weakness won that year's Western States Book Award.
Mary Sojourner -- The Flagstaff resident and National Public Radio commentator is the author of the novel Sisters of the Dream.
Diane Gabaldon -- The cult-favorite author of the wildly popular Outlander romantic time-travel fantasies -- Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn and Outlandish Companion -- lives in Scottsdale. I actually owe Gabaldon an apology: I had lunch with her once, a couple of years ago, and then lost my tape and notes from the interview, so I never wrote the article. Sorry about that. She was a charming woman, though, who had fascinating stories of her marine biology graduate work.
Demetria Martinez -- The Princeton grad from Tucson, who was acquitted on charges of smuggling two refugee women into this country after government prosecutors tried to use one of her poems as evidence against her, is the author of the poetry collection Mother Tongue.
Rick Bass -- The prolific author's newest work, Colter, is about his relationship with his favorite dog.
Susan Lowell -- The Arizona-based children's-book author is best known for her 1992 The Three Little Javelinas. Her new work, Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella, is set for release in May.
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Stephen Pyne -- The author is a specialist in the natural and social history of fire, and of the Grand Canyon.
Simon Ortiz -- The Acoma writer's three collections have recently been published in one volume -- Men on the Moon: Collected Short Stories.
J.A. Jance -- The detective novelist is the author of Beaumont Mystery, Breach of Duty, Outlaw Mountain, Kiss of the Bees and Rattlesnake Crossing.
The dozens of other writers slated to be present include everyone from Marshall Trimble to Bob Boze Bell to Ron Carlson to Diana Burke Fessler to Terri Bowerstock to Bob Hope's joke writer Gene Perret. There's also live entertainment, and a kids' activities area. Admission is free. For details call 602-712-1256.