The wait is over! Clear Light Books (851 W. San Mateo Road, 800-253-2747) a book store, poster shop and publishing company, hosts a local book fair one Saturday every month. Each event has a theme; for an entire list of dates and themes, visit their events page.
Saturday, March 21's event benefited Literacy Volunteers of Santa Fe, a nonprofit that helps the estimated 28,000 adults in Santa Fe County that are in need of either English language or literacy tutoring. This is a cause that has been embraced by many in the Santa Fe area, including Mayor David Coss and First Lady Barbara Richardson, both of whom spoke at the event.
The next book fair will take place from 10 am-4 pm on Saturday, April 25 for Earth Day. For more information, contact the Clear Light Book Gallery.
Read more for more details and photos from the event.
Now, I love reading. Don't get me wrong. My idea of heaven is the Geraldine R Dodge Poetry Festival, held biannually in my home state of New Jersey, which is four straight days of poetry, poetry, poetry. (Unfortunately, the 2010 festival has been cancelled, but I'll see you there in 2012.) But this book fair was overwhelming. In the best way possible, of course.
This is a rundown of only a few of the fabulous authors there – seeing as I'm only human, I wasn't able to chat with all of them, but after April's event I hope to provide another installment of who's-whos.
Jonna-Lynn K Mandelbaum: Mandelbaum, a Pennsylvania native, writes novels about missionary workers in Africa. As for her most recently published book, Unspoken Farewell, she says the only reason it's called a novel is because she has changed all the names of people she met during her early 20s. The book chronicles Mandelbaum's own experience in Portugal, Mozambique and Rhodesia, working as a nurse in unstable areas; she changed everyone's name to preserve the identities of people who may still be affected by sensitive information many years later. Her forthcoming novel, Unpredictable Crossing, is in fact fiction, and follows the single survivor of a Mozambique village massacre as they encounter, 10 years later, the man who gave the order for the slaying. Mandelbaum lives in Taos.
Karl Kregor: My mother (whose children are ages 23 and 25) still buys children's books. She likes them. She used to do Storytime at our local library, but even after she stopped reading to kids, she still loves picture books. So if that's any indication of where I'm headed, I'll be keeping a library of kids' books well into adulthood, and that's fine with me. Kregor's picture book, A Winter Rescue: The Great Train Adventures of Elizabeth and Robert tells the story of a ride on the Santa Fe Southern Railway. When the train breaks down, it's up to the kids to figure out how to fix it. A proficient elementary school kid or a middle school reader would probably do best with this one; it's wordy, but, as far as I'm concerned, the more words the better.
Wayne Lee: The first book of Lee's that was brought to my attention was Doggerel and Caterwauls, a collection of poetry about – you guessed it – dogs and cats. Lee put together the chapbook himself, which is a fun collection. Another collection Lee had at the fair was Poems from the Blue House, a collection he co-wrote with his wife Alice Morse Lee, from their home in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. Lee is a past winner of SFR's annual poetry contest, and he runs the Santa Fe branch of Club Z! In-Home Tutoring. By the way, he's one of the nicest people I've probably ever run into in my whole life, so if you need a tutor, I think he's the one to do it.
Bernadette T Vadurro: Reading a textbook is one thing; writing one is something entirely different. Vadurro's America's Conscience isn't exactly a textbook, but it could certainly be used as one. The book has charts, pages and pages of sources, essays and more concerning the death of democracy in America as we know it. From a chapter on global warming to the “Are You A Neo-Con?” quiz, Vadurro's blood, sweat and tears went into America's Conscience, and it shows. Vadurro, who works as a motivational speaker, is deceptively bubbly; she drew me in with a bright smile and small talk and hooked me with a passionate view of the fate of American politics. Vadurro lives in Santa Fe.
David J Corwell: As a fantasy writer, Corwell channels feelings from his own life into his fiction. The father of three growing daughters, he told me that he is trying to come to terms with the grappling for control he's bound to face when they reach their teenage years; “Legacy of the Quedana,” his story about Xalbathas, an elf who struggles with the same kind of power-battle (granted in very different circumstances) was a way of dealing with real-life situations. Corwell and I chatted for a few minutes, and I realized that, while I don't read much fantasy, that my life is full of it: I grew up with a very magical childhood. Some people may say my parents lied to me; I say they made things more interesting than they actually were. For example, for the first chunk of my life, I believed that my mother used to be a locomotive. Magical, I tell ya. Anywho, “Legend of the Quedana” is available in Cloaked in Shadow, a collection of short stories about elves. Corwell lives in Albuquerque.
Steven McFadden: A nonfiction author, storyteller, farmer, astrologist and Reiki master, McFadden really is a renaissance man. His website explains it all better than I ever could here; his agrarian blog, The Call of the Land, gives tips, solutions and ethical musings concerning the impending issues around food. Other writings include Profiles in Wisdom: Native Elders Speak About the Earth, a collection of Native American wisdom, and contributions to Hand to Hand: the Longest-Practicing Reiki Master Tells His Story by John Harvey Gray, McFadden's original teacher. McFadden lives in Santa Fe.
Marianne Powers: When I met Powers, she was framed by a homemade marquee that said “Advice – 10¢” and next to her was a big bowl of Hershey Kisses. Powers' book, Doing the Right Thing and Achieving All Your Goals at the Same Time, is about why we fight and what we can do about it. Powers was handing out sheets of paper that listed 21 basic points that she covers, like “Everyone is doing the best they can” and “When people don't meet your expectations, change your expectations.” One-liners like that may be hard to understand, but the way Powers explains them away makes all the sense in the world. Powers lives in Moriarty.
Jerry R Davis: Davis immediately captured my interest with two of my favorite subjects: travel and memoir. Yeah, they're pretty broad subjects, but that's why I like so much of the world. Davis' Tales of the Road: Essays on a Half-Century of Travel covers trips around America and overseas, and Home on the Farm: Essays on a Michigan Childhood tells stories of the simple lives led in Michigan in the 1930s and 40s. Davis also communicates his family history in Leafing Through My Family Tree. All his books are illustrated by Davis himself, who creates pencil drawings of scenes from his childhood and adult life completely from memory. Davis lives in Albuquerque.
Paulie Clark: Clark was raised by wolves. Well, kind of. Wolf Song: A Love Story tells tales of Clark's life with three undomesticated pet wolves here in New Mexico. She offers stories, advice, caution, and overall heartwarming narration about life with one of the world's most mystifying creatures. She told me that, for the most part, everyone in her life loved her pets – and that her neighbors loved when the wolves would sing. Jonna-Lynn K Mandelbaum, who was both sitting next to Clark at the book fair and is Clark's actual neighbor in Taos, only giggled at this claim.