Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
There's a lot to see and do during the weekend of the Arkansas Literary Festival — so much, in fact, that there are often multiple readings and panel discussions scheduled at the same time. What's a bookworm to do? Never fear: We've got your back. Below, in no particular order, are some of the highlights we're looking forward to. Maybe we'll see you there.
Friday, April 17
Noon, Darragh Center: “The Prince of Frogtown.” Author and journalist Rick Bragg reads from his brilliant new memoir, which chronicles his search for his father's history and his own quest to become a dad to his stepson. We've read it. It's a stunner.
3 p.m., Darragh Center: “Go Down Together: The Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde.” Historian Jeff Guinn talks about his book on the two Depression-era bank robbers. Stop by for pointers in case the economy gets any worse.
7 p.m. Mosaic Templars Cultural Center: Spoken Word Live! Young poets — the winners of the Mosaic Templars Center contest — read from their poetry. Gotta support the next generation.
Saturday, April 18
10 a.m., ASI Room 124: “Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue.” We dig on the smoked swine around here, so our ears perk up anytime anybody mentions barbecue. Lots of that to be had at this talk by John Shelton Reed. It's the perfect segue into lunch.
10 a.m, ASI Delta Classroom: “Careers in Forensics.” Get out your magic UV flashlights and fingerprint powder, kids. Author Linda D. Williams talks how to break into a career where the customers never talk back.
1 p.m. Darragh Center: “Ellen Gilchrist: Collected Stories.” Arkansas author Ellen Gilchrist ain't quite J.D. Salinger reclusive yet, but it is rare to catch an appearance by this celebrated fiction writer. Come hear her while she's in town.
1 p.m., Cox Center Meeting Room: “On Tarzan.” Jane? It's Tarzan. It seems a fellow named Alex Vernon will be speaking about my literary legacy at the Lit Fest. Isn't that delightful? Would you like to go? Excellent. I'll swing by and pick you up around noon. Make sure Cheetah has his diaper on.
2:30 p.m. Darragh Center: Tom Epperson on “The Kind One.” A great Arkansas screenwriter — Epperson was working with Billy Bob Thornton back when Thornton was just an amateur redneck, not a professional one like he is now — talks about his new historical novel.
6:30 p.m., Sticky Fingerz bar at Clinton Ave and Commerce Street: Pub or Perish! The Arkansas Times' bar reading series Pub or Perish returns for a sixth chapter. In the index this year: ASU poet Paul Lake, a play reading by Hollywood actor Don McGovern, Lit Fest author Cristina Henriquez, and special guest, novelist Dorothy Allison! Mead will flow and the bards will sing. It's a real gas, man.
SUNDAY, APRIL 19
1:30 p.m., Darragh Center: Screen-writing Panel. Doesn't everybody dream of hitting the Hollywood lottery, AKA: Selling a screenplay for great gobs of money? Show up here to get some killer tips from several Arkansas screenwriters. Moderator: Jack Lofton.
1:30 p.m., ASI Room 124: David Pryor on “A Pryor Commitment.” Even if you're not a political junkie, you probably know something about former Arkansas governor David Pryor. Sure, he's a great politician, but who knew he could write? Here, he talks about his memoir of life in and out of Arkansas politics.
3 p.m. ASI Ozark Classroom: Romance Writer's Workshop. If there's one thing we need — nay, desire — in our lives, it's more hot, hot sex. The next best thing is reading about hot, hot sex. Here, romance author Sharon Lee shares the secrets of making a hot page-turner.
3 p.m. ASI Room 110: Song Writing Panel. Gimme the beat, boys, and free my soul. I wanna get lost in your rock and roll. A panel on songsmithery, moderated by the Times' own Lindsey Millar.