They call them “Reader’s Festivals,” “Book Festivals” and “Writer’s Festivals.”
They used to be organized by colleges and newspapers and the like — some still are. Such events can have a Chamber of Commerce appeal, pulling in readers from all over, filling hotels for readers who want to meet their idols and listen to them talk about “the craft” and read from their works.
I used to work at a university that ran a swell one, where I got to meet folks like McMurtry and Mailer and McInerny and Haley and Erdrich, and worked for a newspaper on the Fla. coast where I got to cover another, where the likes of Susan Orlean came to be feted.
Writers being writers, there were always mishaps, drunken revels, torrid tales and whatnot associated with them. Norman Mailer renting a car at the airport and getting lost between it and the University of North Dakota, Edward Albee cutting a wide swath through whatever college town he happened to be gracing with his presence, Harlan Ellison taking inspiration from the frigid wasteland of North Dakota and the dork recording his reading/lecture/stand-up show that night.
So there’s a LOT to draw from for this comedy, with Michael Shannon pretending to be a reclusive writer, Kate Hudson the festival organizer trying to keep this enterprise operating, Don Johnson, Zach Braff, Wendy Malick, M. Emmett Walsh, Aja, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and others caught up in the heady atmosphere of books and booze.
“A Little White Lie” opens Mar. 3.