Doctorow’s in the house

Quick, name America’s poet laureate. Those of you who knew it’s Kay Ryan will surely be on hand November 5 when she gives the opening keynote speech for the Vegas Valley Book Festival. Those of you who answered, “Uh, is it that man from Nantucket?” should also go; in fact, you should sit together, near the front.


Beyond the Weekly
Kay Ryan

An even bigger catch for the festival, also announced this week, is closing speaker E.L. Doctorow (November 8). His novels include Ragtime and Billy Bathgate; his newest, Homer and Langley, is out in September. How big a catch is he? Enough to elicit above-average boilerplate from Carol Harter, president of the sponsoring Black Mountain Institute: “Doctorow ... is profoundly interested in American life, history and its ambiguities. He delves into our collective past from a variety of imaginative perspectives ...” Profound; ambiguities; delving. Word.

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  • Tim Judah makes it clear in his lively blend of research and personal narrative that nationality and history are fungible.

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