I didn't actually buy any books (gasp!!) because I was too busy going to panels. I'm not sure that's how the organizers envisioned things - but I buy lots of books at the places with booths there anyway during the rest of the year, so this mass of free-floating guilt I've been lumbered with the last week will just have to find somewhere else to batten.
Steven Pinker's panel with William Calvin was fantastic. It was also, as I feared, attended by a number of polemical idiots who wanted to bash their ideas; however they were at least polite polemical idiots and kept their mouths shut until the Q&A period. The first "gentleman" to take the microphone dragged out a mouldy screed about evolution being used as the justification of genocide, and what made Mr. Pinker think his work was any better? As I was making my retreat (in part to go line up to get a signature from someone else) I got to listen to Mr. Pinker elegantly dismantle the arguement (with the interesting observation that the two most genocidal regiemes of the 20th century had opposing viewpoints on evolution: the Nazis used evolutionary theory as a justification, while the Communists used had no use at all for the theory of evolution. They each handilly killed whomever they thought appropriate in numbers that astonish; it makes little sense to assign the blame for the murders to the study of evolutionary theory and how it relates to humans.) and take the man to task for wasting the time of the other people with legitimate questions.
I got to see Chuck Palahniuk drink most of Warren Ethridge's Bombay Sapphire gin. Ah, the man would drive me to drink as well, even if I could figure out why he looks so familiar. I'm guessing because I've seen him at SIFF over the years. NW Bookfest suffers a bit from fielding moderators who want to be on the panels rather than moderate them - hence sometimes it is difficult for the panelists to get a word in edgewise.
I did, alas, suffer again the disappointment of attending a panel with someone whose work I had admired, having them open their mouth, and discovering I couldn't quite respect them as a person, no matter how much I had enjoyed their writing. Sigh. I will spare the name; though it was not one of the major festival lights, if you are concerned.
I got to sit next to Molly Gloss, briefly - but failed to say anything since no matter how I wracked my brain, I couldn't remember the name of the novel of hers that I read, and I didn't want to sound like an idiot. On the other hand, I failed not to sound like an idiot when I did talk to Chuck Palahniuk, while he was signing the book I brought. So I'm damned if I open my mouth or not. Phooey. No help for it but to become an author myself, then I can talk about me, me, me and look like an idiot legitimately.