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10 Boston Book Festival Talks We'd Love To Hear

The Boston Book Festival. (Courtesy)MoreCloseclosemore
The Boston Book Festival. (Courtesy)

If only you could channel surf the Boston Book Festival. Saturday’s daylong events are loaded with interesting panels, top writers and probing moderators, many at the same time as each other. Personal taste will dictate what and whom you want to see. There are also parades, street fairs, live music and other festivities that are more family-oriented. Here’s the complete schedule.

And here are 10 that jump out at me.

Herbie Hancock (Courtesy)
Herbie Hancock (Courtesy)

Herbie Hancock
“Memoir Keynote”

8 p.m., Thursday, Old South Sanctuary, 645 Boylston St.

Miles Davis said of Herbie Hancock’s piano playing, “Herbie was the step after Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk, and I haven’t heard anybody yet who has come after him.” Neither have I. Hancock talks to Berklee College of Music president Roger Brown about his memoir, “Possibilities.”

Susan Minot
“Fiction Keynote”

8 p.m. Friday, Old South Sanctuary, 645 Boylston St.

The New York Times cited the “quiet humanity and probing intelligence” of Susan Minot’s “Thirty Girls,” about an American journalist and the kidnapping of girls in Uganda. She talks to Nigerian-American journalist Dayo Olopade.

H.D.S. Greenway (Courtesy)
H.D.S. Greenway (Courtesy)

H.D.S. Greeenway
“Memoir: Journeys Home and Abroad”

11 a.m. Saturday, Boston Common Hancock, 40 Trinity Place

Does anyone make better sense of this confusing world’s politics than columnist David Greenway, whose writing still graces the Boston Globe? Greenway talks about his war coverage in “Foreign Correspondent.” He cut a pretty dashing figure around Morrissey Boulevard as well. Also on the panel: Alden Jones and Richard Hoffman. Moderated by Peter Stothard.

Claire Messud and Meg Wolitzer
In conversation

12:30 p.m. Saturday
First Church Sanctuary, Berkeley and Marlborough Street

Claire Messud (Lisa Cohen)
Claire Messud (Lisa Cohen)

Both writers have had things to say about the way that publishers and critics treat female writers, a topic sure to come up. Messud’s “The Woman Upstairs” also takes us into the messiness and ruthlessness of artists, male or female, a topic I hope comes up.

“Beyond the Book: Fitzgerald, Joyce, and Zweig”
12:30 p.m. Saturday
Emmanuel Parish Hall, 15 Newbury St.

Christopher Lydon, host of Radio Open Source, interviews Maureen Corrigan, Kevin Birmingham and George Prochnik about their books on the three writers. The titles tell all — Corrigan’s “So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures," Birmingam’s “The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses“ and Prochnik’s “The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World.”

Doris Kearns Goodwin (Courtesy)
Doris Kearns Goodwin (Courtesy)

Doris Kearns Goodwin
“History Keynote”

2:15 p.m. Saturday
Trinity Sanctuary, 206 Clarendon St.

Doris Kearns Goodwin is always a joy to listen to, whether as one of Ken Burns’ talking heads talking about the Roosevelts or in conversation, as she will be here with Tom Ashbrook, host of On Point. We wonder what the author of “The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism” might have to say about the current president and the current age of journalism.

Vicki Croke (Courtesy)
Vicki Croke (Courtesy)

“Perilous Journeys: True Tales of Adventure”
2:45 p.m. Saturday
Emmanuel Sanctuary, 15 Newbury St.

Jeremy Hobson, co-host of Here & Now, talks to Scott Anderson about “Lawrence in Arabia” and Carl Hoffman about Michael Rockefeller in “Savage Harvest.” We hope they’re half as interesting as the third panelist, our Wild Life pal, Vicki Croke, whose “Elephant Company” tells the great story of Billy Williams, whose love of elephants changed his life and whose Elephant Company helped the allied cause in World War II.

“Sports Writing: Local Heroes”
3:30 p.m. Saturday
Boston Common Hancock, 40 Trinity Place

Ted Williams in 1939. (AP)
Ted Williams in 1939. (AP)

Ben Bradlee wrote about Ted Williams, with and without a head, and Christopher Klein about “Strong Boy: The Life and Times of John L. Sullivan, America’s First Sports Hero.” Bill Littlefield, host of Only a Game and author of “Take Me Out” (not the play) will interview the two writers. It’s sure not to be anything like one of those ESPN bloviating shows.

"Off the Leash" book cover (Courtesy)
"Off the Leash" book cover (Courtesy)

“True Story”
4 p.m. Saturday
Emmanuel Parish Hall
15 Newbury St.

What, you think I’m going to pass up a chance to get puppy photos in the piece? I have my own unofficial dog park. I’m not telling you where, but the Boston Globe’s excellent television critic Matthew Gilbert will tell you about his — very engagingly — in “Off the Leash.” Jared Bowen, host of “Open Studio,” will also present Michael Blanding, Jessica Lander, Lawrence Lindner and Robert C. Pozen.

“Finding Our Way: Navigation Through the Ages”
5 p.m. Saturday
Boston Common Hancock, 40 Trinity Place

Is it impossible to get lost with a GPS? Or are we all lost to greater mysteries because of our connectedness to our little phones and other devices? Anthony Brooks, cohost of Radio Boston, helps unravel the conundrum with the Globe’s Hiawatha Bray and Harvard’s John Edward Huth.

Hiawatha Bray. (Courtesy)
Hiawatha Bray. (Courtesy)


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Ed Siegel Twitter ARTery Editor, Critic-At-Large
Ed Siegel is the editor and critic at large of The ARTery.


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