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Authors breathe life into their books

ASPEN – The magic of the written word leaps off of the page at the 27th annual Aspen Summer Words Literary Festival, June 21-25.

The festival features author readings and talks, writing workshops, publishing industry panels, professional consultants and social gatherings for both readers and writers.

“Our goal is to inspire readers and writers alike with the gifts of the written word,” said Julie Comins, Aspen Writer’s Foundation executive director.



Pam Houston, author of “Cowboys are my Weakness” and “Waltzing the Cat,” kicks off the festival at 7 p.m. Saturday with a reading and discussion on “Everything I Know About Writing at the Moment.” Her stories have been selected for the 1999 volumes of “Best American Short Stories,” The O. Henry Awards, The Pushcart Prize and the “Best American Short Stories of the Century.”

“Risk-taking is the thing I stress most in class – stylistic risks, artistic risks, emotional risks,” Houston said. “That’s how you wind up with great work. It may be a little like bloodletting, but there is this reward, the recognition of what we do.”



After writing a book, Houston recharges by taking a break and attending such festivals as the one in Aspen.

The festival includes panel discussions, including Behind the Bestsellers at 1 p.m. Sunday; the Hollywood Connection at 1 p.m. Monday; using history to write books at 1 p.m. Tuesday; and Making Your Mark in Magazines at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Laura Fraser, bestselling author of “An Italian Affair,” talks about travel writing at 3 p.m. Sunday, followed by Ron Carlson at 7 p.m.

“I’ll be giving a kind of guided tour of one of my stories with strategic stops to talk about the craft of writing,” Carlson said.

His main advice for writers? “Stay in the room. The writer is the person who can stay in the room.”

James Houston talks about similarities in fiction and nonfiction at 3 p.m. Monday, and Patricia Schroeder makes her debut at the festival at 7 p.m. Monday with “Are We a Literate Nation? (And Does It Matter?)”

Amy Bloom and Ann Patchett are also new to the festival this year. Bloom, national book award finalist and author of “A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You,” talks about the reading life at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Patchett, author of “Bel Canto” and the winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award, concludes the festival with “Writing Things You Know Nothing About” at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Passes are $150, and individual tickets for each event are $15 ($20 for Schroeder’s presentation). For information, call (970) 925-3122 or visit the Web site http://www.aspenwriters.org.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.

Event: Aspen Literary Festival

When: Saturday, June 21 to Wednesday, June 25

Where: Aspen Writers’ Foundation, Aspen


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