Every reader knows that the place to be this weekend is Miami Book Fair International. With hundreds of authors in town to talk fiction, politics, history, comics, kid lit and more, the uncompromising, hardcore fairgoers have already planned out their schedules, stuffed protein bars into their bags and are ready to fight their way to the front of the autograph lines.
But for the undecided and the flexible, we offer a few offbeat suggestions on how to spend your time at the fair.
Literary Death Match: This year the annual storytelling battle takes place at 8 p.m. Friday in The Swamp on the Miami Dade College campus, so you can check it out even if you plan to attend Friday’s “Evenings With…” event with the National Book Award winners and finalists (which starts at 6 p.m.) Participants are: Jennine Capó Crucet, Liz Tracy, Neil de la Flor and J.J. Colagrande, with judges Billy Corben, Ariel Schrag and Ben Katchor. Stick around for a performance by The Spam Allstars at 10 p.m.
Judy Blume with Alicia Zuckerman, on The Sally J. Friedman Walking Tour: Blume — who got us in all sorts of trouble with our parents when she published her teen sex novel Forever — joins WLRN for a figurative stroll down memory lane, remembering the good old days in South Beach, where she spent an important part of her childhood. 3 p.m. Saturday at The Swamp.
The Pope of Trash: If you have never seen director/writer John Waters, you won’t want to miss him talking about his part fictional, part true, all funny book Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America. 4 p.m. Saturday in the Chapman Conference Center.
Comics galore: If your idea of a great read is Best American Comics 2014, The Wrenchies or A Bintel Brief, the Centre Gallery is the place to be all day Saturday and Sunday. Join in on comics mayhem yourself and take the kids to Wembly Wordsmith’s Storytorium in the upper plaza of Children’s Alley to “Wield Your Sketch Book Like A Shield,” a competitive “draw-off” with artists George O’Connor, Kate Leth, Ben Hatke and Ricardo “Liniers” Siri. 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Joyful noise: The fair often lures musicians — who can forget Patti Smith’s impromptu singing of Because the Night a few years back? This year the fair tears the roof off the sucker with Sheila E, Questlove and George Clinton talking about their recent memoirs. Sheila E appears at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Room 2106; Questlove and Clinton appear with homegrown journalist Ben Greenman (Palmetto High represent!) at 5 p.m. Sunday in the Chapman Conference Center.
Actor Jason Segel and Todd Kessler, creator of Blue’s Clues: There are a head-spinning number of activities for kids throughout the weekend, but two of our favorites are the appearance of Segel talking about his first book Nightmares! and Kessler reading from his new book The Good Dog. Segel appears bright and early at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Auditorium; Kessler reads at 2 p.m. Sunday at Mr. Wembly Wordsmith’s Storytorium children’s stage in Children’s Alley.
“The Life, Times, and Legacy of William Burroughs: A Centennial Celebration”: Relive the heyday of the ’60s counterculture as writers, editors and fans pay tribute to one of the founding fathers of the Beat Generation and pal to Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. 4 p.m. Sunday in Room 8302.
“This is For the Ladies Who Brunch”: What’s a South Florida event without brunch? Reading Queer presents twisted open-mic poetry and performances to lighten up the morning. Complimentary mimosas, bellinis and greek yogurt parfait await. 11 a.m. Sunday, The Swamp.
Borscht (micro-mini) Film Festival: Tired from rushing around all morning from building to building seeing your favorite authors? Need a place to sit for a bit? The Miami-based film collective screens a bunch of shorts in The Swamp. Get a beverage, find a bench, and relax. 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
John Cleese: The actor, comedian, former Python and creator of the great Fawlty Towers closes out the fair by talking about his memoir So Anyway…Go by all means, but whatever you do, don’t mention the war. 7 p.m. Sunday, Chapman Conference Center.