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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.

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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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