On Nov. 8, T.C Boyle took to the podium in Brandi Recital Hall to read for the Denham Sutcliffe Memorial Lecture. The room was so full that some audience members had to sit on the stairs or the f loor. Boyle’s keynote and reading were the ending for The Kenyon Review’s annual Literary Festival.
The Literary Festival, which ran from Nov. 4 to Nov. 8, is a multi-day celebration of literature. It features readings as well as workshops and presentations by local, national and international authors for
the residents of Gambier. After an introduction by Kenyon Review Editor David Lynn ’76, Boyle read two of his short stories for the audience at Brandi Hall. The first one, “The Five-Pound Burrito,” is based off of the obituary of a man whose legacy was, in-deed, a five-pound burrito. Boyle’s second story, “Chicx-ulub,” was published in The New Yorker in 2004 and tells the shocking story of a narra-tor whose daughter has been struck by a car. When asked about his inspirations for the story, Boyle mentioned his own daughter and the most emotional event that could happen to her and his family. After his reading, Boyle an-swered a few audience ques-tions and held a book signing. The Kenyon Review has held the Literary Festival for 13 years, according to Tory Weber, associate director of programs and fellowships at the Review. Planning for the festival typically begins around May each year, and as many as 50 people are in-volved with putting the event together. The keynote speak-er is chosen by Lynn and his trusted colleagues as well as the Kenyon Review Board of Trustees. The Review tries to balance out the genres and styles of the writers they bring in. This year they focused on finding a prose writer, as last year’s festival featured poet Rita Dove. Some of the Literary Fes-tival’s programs this year in-cluded creative writing work-shops from Kenyon professors and writers like Molly Mc- Cully Brown, Keija Parissin-en, Ira Sukgrunguang, Misha Rai, as well as readings and presentations from poets like Ruth Awad and Orchid Tier-ney. Additionally, there were discussions and workshops based on Boyle’s collection of stories, The Relive Box, held at Mount Vernon’s pub-lic library, Paragraphs Book-store and Mount Vernon High School. For Weber, her hopes for the Literary Festival are the same each year. “I hope that people take this opportunity to engage with an author’s work, to see that author in person and hear them talk about their process and per-spective … gleaning some wisdom from the authors we bring in,” she said. “At the end of the day, the hope for this is to get people reading, and reading something they otherwise wouldn’t have had on their radar.”