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21st Annual Kentucky Book Fair

Having lived out of state for a number of years, it was a real pleasure to reconnect with the amazing Annual Book Fair in Frankfort, Kentucky. The Commonwealth is blessed with an astounding pool of literary talent, and this show is the very best evidence of that. 

There are always a few relatively new writers, like the talented Lexington author Crystal Wilkinson, but the real stars are the perennial old timers. Ed McClanahan was present with his long-awaited slim new book elegantly printed by Larkspur Press. Larkspur had a large display of their fine hand-printed work. The great Wendell Berry was there and I picked up his small volume of essays relating to the post-9/11 world. Among the other greats were novelist Bobbie Ann Mason, former first lady Phyllis George, the ubiquitous James Archambeault with his gorgeous photography books and calendars, and poet laureate James Baker Hall. 

A special treat at the University Press of Kentucky table was legendary historian emeritus of Kentucky Dr. Thomas D. Clark. He's over 90 years old and has just co-authored a new book on the history of the Governor's mansion. There was a very long line of history buffs anxious to get his autograph.

The location in the Frankfort Civic Center was cramped, but had the advantage of ample stadium seating for people wanting to rest their feet. While there is a certain sameness about the fair every year, it remains a magical experience to be able to shake the hands of our literary heroes.

-Dwight Newton, 11//02/2002