Woodstock Writers’ Festival returns, April 3-6

James Howard Kunstler is the author of several great nonfiction books about the global energy predicament (The Long Emergency; Too Much Magic), the fiasco of suburbia (The Geography of Nowhere), and the American revival of urban design (Home from Nowhere; The City in Mind). Kunstler will discuss the real-world issues he tackles in his nonfiction books and how he was inspired to depict the consequences of all that in his recent World Made By Hand series of novels set in the post-oil American future. The third in the four-book series, titled A History of the Future, will be published this September by The Atlantic Monthly Press. “It’s one thing to present an audience with a set of rather scary facts about the fate of their society,” Kunstler said. “I wanted to reach a different part of their brains in my novels — to get them to feel the rich textures and sensations of life in the future in a fully tactile way. I also had a hidden agenda: to present that future in a way that would make it appealing… a place you might actually like to be.” You can attend Kunstler’s talk at the Woodstock Writers’ Festival on April 5 from 2-3:30 p.m. for $15. (photo by Charlie Samuels)

James Howard Kunstler is the author of several great nonfiction books about the global energy predicament (The Long Emergency; Too Much Magic), the fiasco of suburbia (The Geography of Nowhere), and the American revival of urban design (Home from Nowhere; The City in Mind). Kunstler will discuss the real-world issues he tackles in his nonfiction books and how he was inspired to depict the consequences of all that in his recent World Made By Hand series of novels set in the post-oil American future. The third in the four-book series, titled A History of the Future, will be published this September by The Atlantic Monthly Press. “It’s one thing to present an audience with a set of rather scary facts about the fate of their society,” Kunstler said. “I wanted to reach a different part of their brains in my novels — to get them to feel the rich textures and sensations of life in the future in a fully tactile way. I also had a hidden agenda: to present that future in a way that would make it appealing… a place you might actually like to be.” You can attend Kunstler’s talk at the Woodstock Writers’ Festival on April 5 from 2-3:30 p.m. for $15. (photo by Charlie Samuels)

There will be great books, evocative stories and abundant opportunities for inspiration at the fifth annual Woodstock Writers’ Festival (WWF), April 3 through 6. Here’s a listing of who’s slated to show up, in alphabetical order: Elisa Albert, M. K. Asante, Sari Botton, Kelly Braffet, Henry Bushkin, Alison Cherry, Jennifer Clement, Rich Cohen, Stephen Cope, Joe Donahue, Beverly Donofrio, Pamela Erens, Tom Folsom, Martha Frankel, Holly George-Warren, Will Hermes, Baird Hersey, Brian Hollander, Lynn Johnston, Owen King, Lily Koppel, James Howard Kunstler, J. Michael Lennon, Jenny Offil, Domenica Ruta, Nan Gatewood Satter, Marianne Schnall, Bar Scott, Kitty Sheehan, Alison Stewart, Sean Strub, Gail Straub, Eva Tenuto, Abigail Thomas, Stephen Tobolowsky, Marion Winik, Koren Zailckas and Carol Zaloom.

“I’m getting educated,” says Festival director and author Martha Frankel. “It’s not like I say, ‘That’s who we should get.’ It’s all been so organic this year; we must have thrown around a hundred names for the keynote speakers.”

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Yet, just one month out with nobody confirmed, Frankel wasn’t panicked. She works with an awesome bunch of people who know other people, and within a tweet or phone call, famous authors come – as much for the promise of a king-sized bed in the Catskills as for the casual opportunity to get close to their audiences. “Kitty Sheehan, our social media maven, booked Stephen Tobolowsky using Twitter. I was watching the Oscars, and she tweeted me, ‘He’s in.’ Like that.”

As is traditional for this event, a Thursday night kickoff Story Slam in association with TMI will give all wannabes the chance to take the stage with 3 ½-minute monologues containing the late Maggie Estep’s genius line, “I’m an emotional idiot.” This year’s discerning table of judges will include WDST Radio Woodstock deejay Jimmy Buff, novelist and performer Carey Harrison and Jacqueline Kellachan, book imp of the Golden Notebook.

Friday’s daylong workshops will offer in-depth information on a variety of techniques and issues for writers, both experienced and neophyte. Building a social media platform, writing fiction and non-fiction, and the ins and outs of getting published are some of the focuses of seven workshops, each taught by experts in their fields. Programming on Saturday and Sunday will cover writing and yoga, writing and music, writing and art and more writing: fiction, Young Adult, journalism, biography, memoir.

After schmoozing cocktail parties at Mountain View Studios on Friday and Saturday evenings, Frankel and crew will present two distinguished keynote speakers: Author Jennifer Clement will be interviewed by WAMC’s Joe Donahue on Friday, and on Saturday, the ninth-most-frequently-seen actor in movies and television shows, Stephen Tobolowsky, will share his passion for storytelling and talk about his new book The Dangerous Animals Club. Coincidentally, a couple of days after Frankel booked Clement, her latest novel, Prayers for the Stolen, received a rave review in The New York Times. Like that. Sunday morning’s breakfast presentation with Gail Straub and Carol Zaloom at Joshua’s Café will lead into another afternoon of panel discussions.

It’s a jam-packed weekend; check out the full schedule at ulsterpub.staging.wpenginewriters.com. Tickets, sold separately or by the full Festival pass, are available online or at the Golden Notebook on Tinker Street.

Woodstock Writers’ Festival, April 3-6, $10-$450, Kleinert/James Center for the Arts, 34 Tinker Street, Woodstock; ulsterpub.staging.wpenginewriters.com.

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