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Big ideas leap off of small presses – come check it out

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If Brooklyn were a country of writers, Park Slope may be viewed as its capital with it populous of local authors and thriving literary culture. On January 27, that culture is recognized through the neighborhood Barnes and Noble’s 1st Annual Small Press Festival. At the daylong event, Brooklynites will have the opportunity to meet local authors and hear from their latest works. Twenty authors from as many different small presses will be represented at the diverse festival, from fiction writers to self help gurus to children’s book authors. Barnes and Nobles across the country have been host to small press festivals celebrating the local talent. Used to holding up to five events a week at its Park Slope store, the festival is a chance for local authors, used to doubling as their own publicist, to reach a wider audience, and is the bookstore’s most ambitious event to date. “I hope it represents all aspects of the small press experience,” said Samantha Gaerlan, community relations manager at the Park Slope Barnes and Noble. “Usually small press festivals held by Barnes and Noble, they’re going to be a celebration of the local authors.” The diverse event features twenty different, primarily Brooklyn writers introducing their new works, ranging from comic fiction to photography to New York history. Starting off the event at noon is Banu Saresh, a certified yoga trainer with a long-term focus on preventive health care, with Yoga for Busy Bodies. Those looking to train their bodies for a triathlon might want to check out William Smith and Paul Frediani as they introduce Tri Power: The Ultimate Strength Training, Core Conditioning, Endurance, and Flexibility Program for Triathlon Success. For advice on homeownership, journalist Piper Nichole's Buying a House on a Shoestring provides a how-to guide for purchasing a home complete with tips on house values, legal perks and hassle-free closing. In the self-help circle, Sil Lai Abrams, Men's Fitness magazine resident relationship expert, is introducing No More Drama, self-described as nine simple steps to transform a breakdown into a breakthrough, and motivational speaker Rose Whaley will discuss the vague The Book Without a Name. New local fiction comes from Paola Corso with her debut Giovanna’s 86 Circles, a quirky and imaginative story about Italian women weavers in a dying steel town; Frances Madeson with Cooperative Village, a satire of the War on Terror about a down-and-out Manhattanite who discovers her elderly neighbor dead; and Gigi James with I Didn’t Sign Up for This, a comedy which travels through a young female physician's memories. For history buffs, two authors will present different histories of New York. Joanne Reitano will introduce The Restless City, a short history of New York from colonial times to the present, and Wilhermena Kelly, a third generation native of Bedford-Stuyvesant, will present a history on the neighborhood in the aptly titled Bedford-Stuyvesant. In a different medium, photographer Thomas Roma documents the borough in temples in On Three Pillars. Those with little ones might want to check out the festival’s children’s book offerings in the children’s department. Trish Bentley will introduce About Town With Benny Be, in which children are taken on a tour of New York City with pooch Benny Be; Phil Padwe will present Mommy Has a Tattoo, which tells the story of a young boy who is afraid of his tattooed neighbor until he discovers that his own mother has a tattoo as well; and Jessica Purl, editor of Cherry Ames, Student Nurse, will present the nursing series, released by Springer Publishing. The daylong event closes out with two sports writers: Lee Lowenfish with Branch Rickey, Baseball’s Ferocious Gentlemen, a biography of the man who broke baseball's color barrier by promoting Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, and professional sports writer Mark Cannizzaro with Tales from the NY Jets Sidelines, as well as Chris Knowles and Joseph Michael Linsner with Our Gods Wear Spandex, a secret history of comic book heroes. Given the difficulties small presses and micropresses face, with limited promotional funds, events such as these enable presses and their authors to engage a wider audience. “It brings it all together in one day,” said Gaerlan, without the pressure of hosting one event for an author, she added. Throughout the day, authors will be given half an hour to present their work any way they like, either through lectures, discussions or readings, as well as book signings. Gaerlan eventually hopes to see the Barnes and Noble hosting several small press festivals a year, in addition to the weekly literary events the bookstore hosts for the local community. “I wanted it to be a place where whenever you come in something is happening, something is being offered.” The 1st Annual Small Press Festival at the Park Slope Barnes and Noble (267 7th Avenue) will be held on January 27 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, call 718-832-9066.

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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