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Author and keynote speaker Joyce Carol Oates takes questions from the audience at the AJC Decatur Book Festival. Photo by Hope Dickson.
Author and keynote speaker Joyce Carol Oates takes questions from the audience at the AJC Decatur Book Festival. Photo by Hope Dickson.

“Best Advice is No Advice”

Author and keynote speaker Joyce Carol Oates takes questions from the audience at the AJC Decatur Book Festival. Photo by Hope Dickson.
Author and keynote speaker Joyce Carol Oates takes questions from the audience at the AJC Decatur Book Festival. Photo by Hope Dickson.

A Look Inside the AJC Decatur Book Festival

By: Hope Dickson

More than 90,000 people came out Labor Day weekend to enjoy the festivities of the AJC Decatur Book Festival. Starting it off on Friday, Aug. 29, author Joyce Carol Oates gave the keynote speech in front of hundreds of people.

Having written over hundreds of short stories, poetry, novels, fiction, plays, and essays; it is clear about one thing, Joyce Oates loves to write. She publishes works so frequently that it is hard to imagine she ever stops writing!

“There’s no language to a story,” addressed Oates to the audience. “A story can be the same story told in a hundred different ways.”

After the keynote speech, people filed out and lined up to meet Oates and get their favorite books signed by her.

“I love so many of her short stories,” said English professor Shellie Welch. “The ones about Betty Short, Marilyn Monroe, Black Dahlia, and White Rose are cool. I also love Cousins. I often teach it in my English 1102 class.”

While people were getting their signatures, the room was buzzing with talk about how awesome the keynote actually was.

The whole speech was fabulous,” said attorney Amy Berne, “I didn’t know how funny she was, because her writing is so depressing.”

Joyce Carol Oates is an author that wants to teach her audience a life lesson. She wants to inspire her readers to become the person that they were meant to be.

In fact, many of the authors that came out wanted to teach their readers a particular message in life. More than 600 authors came out to meet their readers and fans.

Guy Cote, author of “Long Live the King” said, “What I want my readers to know through my writing is don’t let any obstacle hold you back.”

The LGBT track was a popular spot this year at the festival. The books varied from same-sex family units to defining love, regardless of gender.

“Family is a lot bigger than it used to be,” said Elisabeth Sheff, author of “The Polyamorous Next Door: Inside multi-partner relationships and families.” “Families of gender and sexual minorities are not only quite common but can also offer stable living environments for children.”

That’s the thing about books. They can take you as far away from your reality as possible, and they can convey a message. There is usually something writers want their readers to know.

“My favorite thing about reading is that you can live multiple lives in one book,” GSU student Sara White said.

Chances are that at some point in your life, you either picked up a book and read it or you had someone read one to you. Readers everywhere instantly fall in love with the escape.

“With the profound understanding that the human mindset chiefly characterizes itself by being ‘eternally unfulfilled’,” said Kyle Lineberry, M.M.ED. “Reading is one of the most common (and systemically healthy) forms of escaping the mundane and immersing oneself into the fantastical worlds we deem most worthy of our existence.”

The AJC Decatur Book Festival has been held every year for the last nine years, and each year more and more people come, as authors or attendees.

Festivities include: meeting authors, purchasing books, short plays, music, food, poetry readings and more. It is a chance for upcoming authors to try to get their books out there, and a chance for the inner nerd to come out of all of us.

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