The theme for this year's AJC Decatur Book Festival could easily be "Bigger, Stronger, Faster." Bigger, in that its programming has been expanded. Stronger, in that the authors lineup continues to improve in this, the festival's third year. And Faster, in that, much to the staff's relief, the lineup is all but set. (Compared to last year at this time, about half the lineup had been confirmed.)
So the organizers could be forgiven for their delighted grins at Monday morning's press conference, held at the Old Courthouse in Decatur's Downtown Square to announce the programming. The conference was hosted by co-founder Daren Wang; and the lineup went live on the website later in the morning.
I'll dispense with the laundry list of big names, but Decatur native and humorist Roy Blount Jr. was on hand to give an idea of the local flavor at the festival. Blount, a regular on the NPR quiz show "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me!" (carried by WABE on Saturdays at 11 a.m.) has become a fixture at the festival. Some other major names this year include former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins (2001-2003). (Check out his now-famous poem "The Names," which he read to a joint session of Congress after Sept. 11, 2001.) Other heavyweights include John Dean (pictured) and his new book, Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branches; Sara Shepard, author of the "Pretty Little Liars" series, who will help kick off the festival's new "The Escape" programming for teens; and John Bemelmans Marciano, author of Madeline and the Cats of Rome, the first story from the famed "Madeline" series in 50 years. (Marciano is the grandson of the series' creator, Ludwig Bemelmans.)
OK, so it's a laundry list. Sue me. The festival runs Aug. 29-31 (Labor Day Weekend) in downtown Decatur.
(For images from the press conference, visit our new Sideshow photo blog.)