The LA Times Festival of Books – And Dave Cullen, Too!
Artwork by Eric Carle for Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
Well not yet, anyway. This past weekend, under the gorgeous Southern California weather, the Los Angeles Times held its annual Festival of Books. Thousands of people enthusiastically attended (it’s one of the biggest book fairs in the country), soaking in everything from the world of books: authors, publishers, booksellers, interviews, panel discussions and more. Books of all kinds, from every source and for every target audience found a home in this venue.
One of the numerous gateways to the world of books!
The below picture shows less than one-tenth (by eyeball reckoning!) of the ‘exhibit areas’ located all over the sprawling UCLA campus.
A view down Janss Steps
Above that area, between Royce Hall and the library was another event area with more tents and treats.
One of the coolest book sellers in town, Book Soup had a tent with some special guests on hand.
Here’s one author, hard at work signing copies of his newly published and authoritative book on Columbine. Hey! Look everyone, it’s Dave Cullen!
From Kristin Chenoweth to Ray Bradbury – if you were willing to wait in a bit of a line, basically there was something for everyone.
Nothing against Kristin Chenoweth, but I didn’t line-up for her.
Legendary author Ray Bradbury enjoying the enthusiasm of his fans, still.
Many of the authors and speakers participated in various panels and interviews covering most everything under the sun – from politics to celebrity to poetry, art and film, for young and old. Our very own Dave Cullen gave an especially thought-provoking interview in one. They discouraged picture-taking during his interview, but here’s the stage and part of the audience as it was filtering in.
After the interview, more book signing for Dave.
Of his interview, a few things stand out for me. One is hearing some of the detail about how this tragic event seeped into his life and changed its trajectory over the span of 10-years. That alone is unique and remarkable. Learning about his process was also intriguing. And the audience shared in the real satisfaction of hearing a deeper discussion of the events – deeper than the kind standard media allows. As noted by both Dave and his expert interviewer, David L. Ulin of the LA Times, the public yearns for explanations, and not just when tragedy strikes. The 24-hour news media just can’t do the job, so immersion journalism seems the only way to deal with highly complex issues. And as we now know, just about everything the media reported about Columbine at the time was wrong.
At the end of the hour, mikes were opened up for audience questions. The last question from a school administrator was about what schools can do to possibly prevent these kinds of horrific events. Dave’s response was threefold: 1) listen to the kids, 2) rethink the zero tolerance rules, and 3) hire experts trained in the various kinds of ‘dangerous’ psychological profiles that have, by now, been very well-studied.
After his answer, many in the audience audibly agreed and breathed a sigh of what could be called relief. Answers. Finally, answers.