Over 100 authors descend on Portland for a literary exposition

Literature, culture and current events came together in a public forum at the annual Wordstock: Portland’s Book Festival event. Authors from around the world gathered at the Portland Art Museum on Nov. 5 to discuss their books and make connections with their fans.

Across 48 events, well known authors presented on a variety of topics including children’s books, young adult literature, family, feminism and many others. Participants were able to browse the various booths and displays. Attendees could purchase books and merchandise from local vendors at the extensive book fair, all while enjoying live music.

One of the events included an author’s reading of “Thunder Boy Jr.,” the first children’s book written by author Sherman Alexie. Alexie is a Native American writer known for works such as “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven” and “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.”

Alexie’s presentation was filled with off-the-wall humor as he poked fun at politics, his own heritage, mainstream culture and many other topics. Moderator Dave Miller struggled to keep up as Alexie derailed the conversation time and time again amidst roaring laughter from the audience.

As he read “Thunder Boy Jr.,” Alexie quipped about the lack of loving father figures in media, especially among minorities. When the presentation turned to a page with the father caring about his son, Alexie said, “This is the most controversial page.” Miller failed to understand why Alexie would say something so unusual; Alexie explained that he wanted fathers to be represented in literature and culture.

“Thunder Boy Jr.” has already made an impact in communities across the country. Alexie became emotional as he shared a story about reading the book to a group of 80 third and fourth graders. The children at the event felt the significance of having a main character of minority descent. Alexie became emotional as he recounted being hugged 80 times in a row. When the last little girl in line wanted to know why he was crying while receiving hugs Alexie said, “I’ve never been hugged 80 times in a row.”

The presentation ended with a standing ovation from the 2,000 people who came to see Alexie. Hundreds stood in line for over an hour for a chance to get his autograph. Among them was Samy Reel, Vice President of the Associated Students of Washington State University Vancouver. “I get to meet my heroes,” she excitedly said as she waited in the ever growing line.

The Portland Art Museum advocates spreading education through the arts. The museum’s mission is to “engage diverse communities through art and film of enduring quality, and to collect, preserve, and educate for the enrichment of present and future generations.” The museum partners with Literary Arts to host Wordstock annually.

Literary Arts is an organization that was formed to bring authors to the Northwest and quickly became the largest local outlet for displaying literary presentations.

To find out more about Wordstock, visit http://www.literary-arts.org/what-we-do/wordstock. More information about Literary Arts can be found at http://www.literary-arts.org.

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