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State of the Arts

He just published a 736-page novel that mocks literary minimalism. She’s celebrated for her succinct short stories — a couple are just a sentence long. Rick Moody and Amy Hempel have one thing in common, though: They’ll both read at the Burlington Book Festival later this month. They’re even sharing a Saturday time slot.

Actually, that’s not where the commonalities end. Both writers are award winners with name recognition outside the hardcore literary crowd. (Moody wrote The Ice Storm, adapted to film by Ang Lee; Hempel has earned the admiration of cult writer Chuck Palahniuk, who recommends her to his legions of fans.) Moody wrote the introduction to Hempel’s 2006 The Collected Stories, in which he declared that, for her, “It’s all about the sentences.”

It’s also all about animals — Hempel, who’s trained seeing-eye dogs for the blind, often weaves canine companions into her stories about people. (One of her collections is called The Dog of the Marriage.) Moody, for his part, shows an affection for pop culture in his new, satirical door-stop of a novel. Last year he wrote an entire story on Twitter.

While she’s less of a sentence crafter, perhaps, a BBF guest who’s sure to inspire is Gloria Feldt, former president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, who blogs and pens tomes about women and leadership. Her latest book, which comes with gushing blurbs from Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem and actress Rosario Dawson, has the kicky title No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power.

More fun stuff, this one for the kids: Local celebrity cartoonist, musician and dad James Kochalka kicks off Saturday with a 10 a.m. concert just for young folks at the Film House. Kochalka pops up again in a Sunday series of comic readings for the older set called “The Funny Pages.” Also on board for that event at the Black Box are David Carkeet, Middlesex author of the darkly funny novel From Away, about a bumbling outsider tackling a murder mystery in the shadow of the Vermont Statehouse; and Ethan Gilsdorf, a Boston-based journalist who’s written a comic memoir about his experiences with Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks.

Fans of sophisticated “funny pages” should look out for Center for Cartoon Studies director James Sturm, whose latest graphic novel is the detailed historical tale Market Day. And typography geeks should check out Tim Brookes’ “Endangered Alphabet Project,” on display starting Friday at the Fletcher Free Library. The Champlain College prof’s samples of vanishing languages, carved in Vermont maple, drew coverage in the Boston Globe last weekend.

September 24-26, various locations in Burlington, with most readings at Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center. Moody and Hempel appear on Saturday, September 25, 4-5 p.m. in the Film House and the Black Box, respectively. For complete schedule, see

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About The Author

Margot Harrison

Margot Harrison

Margot Harrison is the Associate Editor at Seven Days; she coordinates literary and film coverage. In 2005, she won the John D. Donoghue award for arts criticism from the Vermont Press Association.


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