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2011 L.A. Times Festival of Books schedule is announced: Patti Smith meets Dave Eggers

Patti Smith and Dave Eggers

Los Angeles Times Festival of BooksIt’s probably safe to assume that the names Patti Smith and Dave Eggers are not uttered in the same sentence with any degree of regularity. But their appearance -- together -- at the upcoming Los Angeles Times Festival of Books could change all that.

The rocker (whose “Just Kids” recently won the National Book Award for nonfiction) and the literary hipster (whose book “Zeitoun” won last year’s Los Angeles Times Book Prize for current interest ) will appear together onstage as the book festival, after 15 years at UCLA, moves to USC April 30-May 1.

More than 400 authors will participate in upward of 100 readings, panel discussions and, for a few -- such as comedian Patton Oswalt (“Zombie Spaceship Wasteland”) -- solo stage appearances. Admission to the festival is free, but tickets are required for discussions and lectures. They will be available, for a $1 service fee, beginning April 24 at latimesfestivalofbooks.com.

The Smith-Eggers event is “a rare opportunity to have a conversation with two cultural iconoclasts from different generations talking about why art is important, why creativity matters and how music and literature ennoble our lives,” said L.A. Times book critic David L. Ulin, who will be interviewing both artists.

Those who sit in on that discussion, however, won’t be able to hear conservative Internet entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart, who will be interviewed the same time (12:30 p.m. April 30). The schedule of events will be posted online Monday morning.

You might be tempted to indulge with French Laundry chef Thomas Keller (“Ad Hoc at Home”) -– especially if you’d followed the advice of workout guru Jillian Michaels (“Unlimited: How to Build an Exceptional Life”).

Enjoy some “Stink” with children’s book author Megan McDonald or find out how journalists dig up dirt with L.A. Times reporters who have covered the news in the city of Bell. See Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Edmund Morris (“Colonel Roosevelt”) and mother-daughter bestsellers Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark.

Many of the panels will be held in buildings along Trousdale Parkway, which runs through the center of campus. “I think this move to SC is going to expand the demographic of who comes to the festival,” said journalist Karen Grigsby Bates, who is scheduled to moderate two panels. “You’re going to get people who looked at UCLA as too far west, and you can get there on public transportation.”

The festival comes as the publishing industry is finding its footing after drastic cutbacks during the recent recession. According to the Assn. of American Publishers, in 2010, overall book sales totaled more than $11.6 billion, a 3.6% increase over 2009. In that same period, e-book sales, which are still a small portion of the industry, grew 164%.

Of course, some people are sticking to the traditional format, including magician Ricky Jay, whose book “Celebrations of Curious Characters" will be published next month and who will appear at the festival on April 30. “I have a recording of a magician from the '20s, but it is difficult to get the wax cylinder phonograph to play it. My books dating to the 16th century, however, are still readable in their original form using my original equipment.”

When authors tour to promote their books, they generally go solo. Festivals like this one -- major ones take place in Miami, Brooklyn and Texas, but the L.A. Times' is the largest -- provide an opportunity for them to sometimes reach readers serendipitously.

“People might come out because of one of the other authors on your panel or the general topic,” says the New York-based science writer Seth Mnookin (“The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear”), who will be making his first appearance in at the festival -- and his first visit to L.A. -- to talk about this book. “Right now, I’m looking forward to it not being 35 degrees and raining.”


Explore the Los Angeles Times' best sellers list

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photos: Patti Smith; Dave Eggers. Credits: Albert Olive / European Pressphoto Agency; Ann Johansson / For The Times

Illustration: John Bemelmans Marciano

Comments () | Archives (17)

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USC is a terrible location to host the Festival of Books. Very saddened that it has been moved from UCLA. I've attended every Festival since it began, but I will be sitting this one out. Move it back to UCLA, please and thank you.

Good to know you are keeping an open mind!

Sorry -- why is USC a terrible place to hold an event of this nature, Kristen? I'd be inclined to consider your opinion if you presented any hard evidence.

UCLA was a terrible place to hold this festival, anyway. Horrible parking situation, traffic-heavy neighborhood, unnavigable campus with hills that limited handicapped/elderly ease of access -- need I say more?

USC is a world-class university that deserves high-caliber events like this. So happy to come back to campus for the weekend!

I'm really looking forward to the USC version of the Fest. UCLA was a lovely setting, but I did take the bus there once, and it wasn't pretty...and when I drove, I hated being stuck behind 300 other cars backed up almost to the freeway...

Of course, USC may prove to have problems -- who knows? Maybe they'll do it better. Or worse. Or just differently.

I do suspect that most folks who've had a knee-jerk negative reaction are either UCLA folks, or know nothing of the USC campus...

Not a USC or UCLA alum. The USC campus is awful though. Let's be real.

It's great that there will be a cultural event like this that is south of the 10 freeway! Less traffic, more parking, and a nice change of scenery from UCLA. I can't wait to go to this kind of event in My neighborhood, instead of traveling far to a place that (generally speaking) doesn't welcome people who aren't from west of the 405.

So should we host a Festival of Books at UCLA with all its Asian racist ranting?

Me think not.

Over and OUT.


I wonder what the layout will be like. Beautiful campus. Too bad the Expo Line isn't open yet.

USC is not without its issues either as pointed out recently by the LATimes also... sexually degrading emails etc... sex on the rooftop etc (hilarious and yet impressive lol)

Personally, I'm open to changes although I'll admit that I prefer the UCLA location (and why not? closer to the beach :>)

If the new location bothers some people, I think that's fair. USC is* in South LA after all. I'd visit my ex-girlfriend there, and having been there many times, I do think a lot of the pros for choosing USC are kind of baseless besides being "closer" and "a distinguished university" (re: parking, parking isn't even an issue, the underground parking structures are substantial and easily accommodate attendance from what I've seen during previous Festival of Books in addition to off-campus parking lots with shuttles; re: traffic, because we all know that in LA traffic ONLY happens around the 405 and that they 10 is a seamless and an efficient continuous flow of cars without ANY traffic at all...--and why not, the 10 is the best FWY in LA ;>). As a location, it's meh at best for the location of a book fair (it's certainly not as green, and the air isn't as fresh). However, I think any disapproving voices will probably be ignored because it seems that the decision to go was almost independent of finances because when the festival was at UCLA, it was heavily subsidized by the university... I think there's another non-disclosed reason for the change, so disapproving voices might as well save their breath...

UCLA could have really used the money generated from the Festival of Books. Given all of the state budget cut, and increasing tuition costs.It is unlikely that UCLA will recover from this economic depression to its place as one of the best universities in the world. USC being a private school has a larger endowment fund really does not need the money generated from the Festival of Books.

People don't know the area. I've worked in the area for the award shows for many years and the area is nice. The campus is bigger than UCLA which will give allowance for many more vendors. The parking, hopefully, will be better. The streets are wider in the area so it gives move allowance for traffic. There won't be shoulder to shoulder populace and bystanders. The air quality is similar to UCLA since anything east of the 405 sinks. The shuttles won't need to travel as far since parking lots are closer. Anyone that's worked or been a student or a frat house resident member knows that that area is what these naysayer posts say they are. I'd rather drive and negotiate SC's area that Westwood. And UCLA's campus is just to crowded when the FOB is there. And why is there dissent when no one knows what it'll be like until the festival has it's first year there? Give it a chance at least for one year. The political stuff should be separate to the festival. Enjoy the damn thing!

This would have been the first year attending the FOB with my family; on second thought....Go Bruins!

I'm pretty upset that the LA Times moved this to USC - not because I'm a UCLA student, but because UCLA clearly and desperately needs the income from this event. Too many of our classes are being cut, lecturers being fired, students dropping out because they can't pay the rising costs of tuition - and the LA Times strips us of a major draw. On top of that, people are claiming that USC's campus is bigger and that the parking is better? Let's be real. UCLA is safer, larger, and needs the money more. Out of support for my campus, I will not be attending the fair this year, despite how much I love books.

I wish they had just kept it at UCLA. I had no trouble driving across town to Westwood.

I'm an impartial BYU alum, and LA native, who is eager to attend the FOB at USC's campus today. I had a great time there at the two-day Interreligious Diplomacy conference focused on Mormonism last June. If you haven't walked this beautiful campus, the trip's worth it just for that.

Could somebody teach the Los Angeles Times how to design a website? I'm looking for a specific event at today's Festival of Books, I scroll down the main LA Times webpage to that section and click the link that says "schedule". And here we are: Patti Smith (not who I was looking for) and no schedule. Typical of this newspaper's web presence ...

I went to the Festival this weekend. It was wonderful! I loved the new location, it was more spacious and allowed me to do a thorough walk through and spend more times at the booths. There was also a LOT of beverage booths to minimize the long lines and an awesome food court. Yummy.

Thanks for continuing the Festival LAT! For the snobby westsiders who stayed away because the campus is not in your part of town. Thanks for staying home! Your absence was not missed. I hope you stay away next year too!


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