One for the books
Here are your best bets for this year’s Decatur Book Festival
Over Labor Day weekend, book lovers all over Atlanta will put away their Pinterest boards full of library porn, don rainbow-colored Warby Parkers, and brush up on their best Neruda-inspired pick-up lines for an annual pilgrimage to the Decatur Book Festival. The largest independent book festival in the country, which has been going strong for 10 years, brings about a bajillion authors of local and national acclaim to share their love of books and writing with the smarty-pants people of Atlanta. Some book fests cater to fans of a specific genre, but DBF fans the flames of all bookish passions. Foodies, history buffs, poets, romantics, art lovers, wonks of all flavors — even kids with short attention spans — can find spots in the schedule that seem tailor-made for them.
MR. BELTLINE: Ryan Gravel, author of Where We Want to Live: Reclaiming Infrastructure for a New Generation of Cities, shares his insight as prescient ATL rejuvenator and urban planner.Josh Meister
Where We Want to Live: Reclaiming Infrastructure for New Generation Cities
Hometown hero Ryan Gravel, known lovingly as Mr. Beltline (by me at least), knows smart urban growth is about everyone. His book Where We Want to Live: Reclaiming Infrastructure for a New Generation of Cities, winner of the inaugural Judy Turner prize, builds on Gravel’s success in Atlanta –– imagining and helping to make the Beltline a reality –– and takes his philosophy to a broader audience. He passes the baton to cities worldwide who yearn for a way to bring communities together to nurture the arts and public transportation as well as commerce. Hear how Gravel made the pipe dream of a Georgia Tech master’s thesis transform a city and put the power of connection in the hands of everyday people who affect change by where they live, how they get around, and where they spend their money. Lyn Menne, assistant city manager for Community and Economic Development for the City of Decatur, will introduce Gravel. Free. 3:45 p.m. Sun., Sept. 4. Marriott Conference Center A, 130 Clairemont Ave., Decatur. 404-371-0204.
WOMAN ABOUT TOWN: Rebecca Traister investigates the new generation of single women in All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent NationEliza Browne
Single Ladies and Friendship
Rebecca Traister and Rumaan Alam
Fewer than 50 percent of women are married these days, and those who do choose to marry wait way longer than ever before. Those choices drive massive social change –– think invention of the wheel. Using only the dames of “Sex and the City,” “Girls,” and “Broad City” as touchstones for this trend gives an imperfect glimpse of the earthquake-sized impact these women are having on everything from the workforce to sexual mores. In All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation, Traister, a National Magazine Award finalist, writer at large for New York magazine, and contributing editor at Elle, applies the investigative lens to unveil how delaying or forgoing marriage altogether pushes social change. Anne Lamott says Traister is “the most brilliant voice on feminism in the country,” and when Mama Lamott tells you to listen, you better listen. Traister reads with Rumaan Alam, design writer and author of Rich and Pretty. Alison Law, professional writer and publicist, will moderate the discussion with Traister and Alam. Free. 4:15 p.m. Sat., Sept. 3. Marriott Conference Center B, 130 Clairemont Ave., Decatur. 404-371-0204.
#BLACKGIRLMAGIC: Jacqueline Woodson, who wrote “When there are many worlds you can choose the one you walk into each day,” will have a conversation about her new work Another Brooklyn.Juna F. Nagle
Winner of the 2014 National Book Award for her memoir in verse, Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson has long blurred the boundaries between young adult and adult literature, poetry and prose, narrative and single stunning moment. Another Brooklyn, Woodson’s latest book, follows the lives of four girls as they come of age. It’s a life stage ripe for exploration, but the balancing act the girls muster between nascent magic and the harsh reality of a Brooklyn-that-used-to-be strain the limits of what can be verbalized. And that is Woodson’s sweet spot. Always politically and culturally on-point, Woodson’s characters ring true and stir consciousness about the personal truths which can be found amongst the noise of race, class, and gender inequities. Valerie Boyd, journalist and author of Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston, will interview Woodson. Free. 11:15 a.m. Sat., Sept. 3. Decatur Presbyterian Sanctuary, 205 Sycamore St., Decatur. 404-378-1777.
NATIONAL TREASURE: Kevin Young, author of the poetry retrospective Blue Laws, will discuss self and place with Jericho Brown and Major Jackson.Melanie Dunea
A Sense of Self, A Sense of Place
Jericho Brown, Major Jackson, and Kevin Young
Kevin Young is a national treasure. Young’s poems in Dear Darkness and essays in The Grey Album have helped shape and guide our national conversation about race. With ninja-like expression, readers and listeners encounter stories of everything from Southern food to family, which ease into James Baldwin-level truth telling. Reading with Jericho Brown and Major Jackson, Young delivers a stirring message that enlightens and entertains even those adamantly opposed to stereotypical poetry readings. Catch him before he leaves Emory’s faculty and heads north to take over as director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood. Free. 1:15 p.m. Sun., Sept. 4. Decatur Presbyterian Sanctuary, 205 Sycamore St., Decatur. 404-378-1777.