As usual, the Arkansas Literary Festival has packed dozens of compelling authors and panels into its four-day event. If your tastes are at all broad, you'll have tough choices to make. Below, we suggest our favorites. See the full line-up and more biographical information about the featured authors at arkansasliteraryfestival.org. All events are free unless otherwise noted.
6:30 p.m. "Grey Me Up, Baby" (Main Library, Darragh Center). Things get started off with a bang with this panel discussion for people who like reading or writing about people who like it rough. Panelist Lori Perkins runs a literary agency that's worked on books like Jenna Jameson's "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star" and "50 Writers on 50 Shades of Grey," which Perkins edited. She's joined by Sylvia Day, a bestselling romance author who was one of the 50 writers featured in Perkins' collection. Bre Von Buxxxom of the Little Rock burlesque troupe the Diamond Dames moderates.
8 p.m. "Author! Author!" (Main Library, 5th floor) Mix and mingle with festival authors. Tickets are $25 in advance at arkansasliteraryfestival.org or at any Central Arkansas Library System branch, or $40 at the door, and include hors d'oeuvres and libations.
10 a.m. "Chasing Woodpeckers" (Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center). Tim Gallagher, editor of Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology's "Living Bird" magazine, was one of the main players who brought Cornell to the Big Woods of Arkansas in 2004 to search for the ivory-billed woodpecker. His latest woodpecker book, "Imperial Dreams: Tracking the Imperial Woodpecker through the Wild Sierra Madre," documents his search for a bird last seen in 1956. Mike Armstrong moderates.
10 a.m. "Superhero Psychology & Law" (Arkansas Studies Institute, Room 124). If you've ever found yourself thinking that the real reason Batman and Spiderman wear masks is because they'd get sued into the poorhouse otherwise, this might just be the panel for you. On hand to discuss the psychology and theoretical legal wrinkles in all that spandex will be Travis Langley, author of "Batman and Psychology," and James Daily, author of "The Law of Superheroes." Joel DiPippa, professor at UALR's William H. Bowen School of Law, moderates.
10 a.m. "Obsessive Reading Disorder" (Main Library, Darragh Center). Wry, working-man's humorist Joe Queenan will be on hand to talk about his memoir "One for the Books," which discusses "the culture of reading," his lifelong obsession with books, his 100- to 200-per-year habit, and why book club arguments should always be so passionate they end in knife fights. With moderator Jay Jennings.
11:30 a.m. "Secede Already" (Main Library, Darragh Center). Chuck Thompson discusses his book "Better Off Without 'Em: A Northern Manifesto on Southern Secession," which deals with what's bound to be a touchy subject in Arkansas. The book's a humorous look at whether the states of the old Confederacy have finally devolved intellectually, rhetorically, politically and socially to the point that the rest of the United States should just grant neo-secessionists the divorce they've been dreaming of since 1860. The book includes a chapter on race-related dysfunction in Little Rock public schools. CALS director Bobby Roberts moderates.
11:30 a.m. "A Poet's Homecoming" (Arkansas Studies Institute, room 124). Arkansas native C.D. Wright, professor of poetry at Brown University and winner of fellowships from the MacArthur and the Guggenheim foundations among other awards, is a narrative poet whose most recent work, "One With Others," is an elegy for "V," a white woman whose support for the march against racism led by Sweet Willie Wine in 1969 led to her ostracization. Arkansas poet Hope Coulter moderates.
11:30 a.m. "Savory & Delicious" (Historic Arkansas Museum, Ottenheimer Theatre). Jessica Harris, the author of 12 cookbooks, including "High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America," will talk about historic foodways of African Americans.
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