NEW YORK -- Partway through my Sunday panel at the Brooklyn Book Festival, the subject turned to archetypes of Los Angeles. We – the novelists Seth Greenland (“The Angry Buddhist”), Emma Straub (“Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures”), Karolina Waclawiak (“How to Get Into the Twin Palms”) and myself – were there to discuss the literature of Southern California. Cognitive dissonance, perhaps … or maybe a sign that, 55 years after L.A. stole the Dodgers, Brooklyn has come around.
And why not? Next month, the NBA’s Nets begin play in Brooklyn – the first major-league sports team to call the borough home since the Dodgers left after the 1957 season. And this weekend, the seventh annual book festival reaffirmed Brooklyn’s place as a locus of the American literary world.
The Brooklyn Book Festival is one of my favorites: a real city event, unfolding, largely, in and around Borough Hall. It has panels, yes – dozens of them, featuring writers who this year included Joyce Carol Oates, Walter Mosley, Dana Spiotta, Dennis Lehane, Elissa Schappell and Naomi Wolf – but what’s best about it are the stalls, which sprawl out across the plaza behind Borough Hall like a three-dimensional Rorschach test, representing the health of book culture in a society that wants to think otherwise.