Bookstock 2015

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Bookstock — now in its fifth year at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library — is this Saturday, but it’s more like a series of events, free and open to all. Featured national speakers will be young-adult novelist and American Library Association Lifetime Achievement honoree Patricia McKissack; best-selling novelist Mary Monroe; and Charles Graeber, author of The Good Nurse, a true-life tale of “medicine, madness, and murder.”

Bianca Phillips, Flyer staff writer and author of Cookin’ Crunk, will also be at Bookstock for a vegan cooking demonstration, as will Flyer photographer Justin Fox Burks, who, along with his wife Amy Lawrence, co-wrote The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook.

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That’s all in addition to a panel designed for aspiring children’s-book authors and featuring McKissack and local writers Barry Wolverton and Mariah McStay. The panel will be moderated by Jane Schneider, editor of Memphis Parent, sister publication of the Memphis Flyer.

There’s another Bookstock panel too, led by the library’s Wayne Dowdy, and the topic's no mystery: It's how to write a great mystery, according to panelists Laura Cunningham, Phyllis Appleby, and Carolyn McSparren, editor of the recently released short-story collection Malice in Memphis.

Ten lucky aspiring writers will also have their work critiqued at Bookstock by Memphis mystery writer and Edgar Award nominee Lisa Turner and by poet Linda Reaves, but more than 40 local writers appearing at Bookstock aren’t aspiring. They’ve been published, and they’ll be on hand to meet local readers. According to Director of Libraries Keenon McCloy, that’s one of the big idea behind Bookstock.

“We’ve been focusing from the beginning on local authors,” McCloy said, “promoting all the great talent that’s here in Memphis. Our three visiting speakers — Patricia McKissack, Mary Monroe, and Charles Graeber — are from different backgrounds, and they each bring something different to the table. With Bookstock, we want to show just how diverse the Memphis reading audience is.”

Just how diverse? A program called “The Sky Without Birds Book Talk,” featuring Memphian Ting Ting Davis, will be delivered in Chinese, and you have library adult services coordinator Wang-Ying Glasgow to thank for broadening Bookstock’s outreach.

You have the library’s teen services coordinator, Janae Pitts-Murdock, to thank for heading up the young-adult programs at this year's Bookstock. Programs will include a talk via Skype with manga author and illustrator Martheus Wade, an art wall, a performance by students from the School of Rock, and a “gadget lab.”

Children will have their own “gadget lab” too, along with a “tunes and tales” program, face painting, book making, a puppet show, and pop-up stories.

Bookstock 2015 will also be a good opportunity for everyone to check out the progress on the Central Library’s 8,300-square-foot teen lab, christened by community vote Cloud901.

According to McCloy, the library hopes to have construction finished by the end of this summer, with an official opening sometime in September. The project — which will include a sound-mixing lab, a video-editing suite, 3D printing, coding and gaming technology, and a performance space — has evolved, McCloy said, “into something that’s bigger than we could ever have imagined.”

It’s grown to include input from individuals at the University of Memphis, the Visible School, Memphis College of Art and representatives from recording studios such as Ardent, Stax, and Royal. And it’s all designed to spark lifelong curiosity and prepare young adults in skills that will serve them not only today but in the job market of the future.

“It’s all part of Mayor Wharton’s strategy to invest in our youth, all within a safe environment,” McCloy said of Cloud901. “People need libraries now more than ever.”

And it shows. In McCloy’s words:

“A friend, who hadn’t been to the library recently, dropped me off last week after lunch, and he said, ‘What is going on? The parking lot is full!’ I’m like, ‘Right!’ And with construction of the teen lab, we’re right on track, full steam ahead. We here at the library are just on cloud nine.”

Which may be where these days Charles Graeber is too. As reported last December, filmmaker Darren Aronofsky is due to produce, if not direct, a big-screen adaptation of Graeber's The Good Nurse. •
Bookstock 2015 at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library (3030 Poplar) is Saturday, April 18th, 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. For more information and full schedule of events, visit memphislibrary.org and hit the "hot link" to Bookstock.

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