When the festivities wind down and the dust settles on the Mall, what are the bookish among us to do? Fortunately, there is a bustling literary scene in the District that goes far beyond the festival.
Joe Killiany and Dan Brady, editors of the D.C. literary magazine Barrelhouse, attest that literature is alive and well here. “I think it’s kind of on the edge of really exploding,” Brady says of the city’s literary scene. “We’re all working together now, and I feel like things are really going to pick up.”
Brady says the area’s universities and major arts establishments help support a literary subculture. “I think D.C. is kind of interesting because the people who do the kind of on-the-ground arts stuff, some of them also have jobs at those fully established places, like the Library of Congress or PEN/Faulkner, you know? Those people all have side projects, so while it’s kind of stratified, it’s also connected in a way.”
So how can you get involved in this community of self-avowed bookworms? Here’s a brief rundown of local happenings, literary reviews and Web sites to fuel your love of literature.
Fall for the Book Kicking off Wednesday, this annual festival is hosted by George Mason University and draws some of the biggest names in literature. This year’s lineup is especially interesting: Alice Walker will speak on the 30th anniversary of “The Color Purple,” and Michael Chabon, Rita Dove and Neil Gaiman also are slated to give readings. Wednesday-Sept. 30. Various locations. www.fallforthebook.org.
Three Tents Reading Series From the literary review Big Lucks comes this bimonthly event at the Big Hunt in Dupont Circle, featuring readings by MFA students at area universities and independent authors on book tours. The next reading is Oct. 21. The Big Hunt, 1345 Connecticut Ave. NW. www.biglucks.com/readings.
Stories on Stage This new reading series organized by Barrelhouse features local actors doing dramatic readings of works published in indie presses and magazines. At the most recent event, “Dispatches From the Office,” actors Thembi Duncan and Mia Branco read works by Jen Fawkes and Melissa Yancy. D.C. Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW. www.barrelhousemag.com.
These readings at the Folger Shakespeare Library kick off Monday with Jeffrey Eugenides, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel “Middlesex.” He will read from his latest novel, “The Marriage Plot.” The rest of the season includes readings by Robert Stone and Lauren Groff (Nov. 12) and James Salter (Dec. 7). Locations vary. www.folger.edu.