The smiling couple in the photograph above is my parents. They’re visiting from Wyoming and are very excited to attend the Stella Yella competition tomorrow at the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival.
The festival, which has positioned itself as the premier large-scale annual literary event in our fair city, manages to draw at least one or two good writers from elsewhere each year (scanning this year’s docket I see Robert Olen Butler) and a couple local notables usually make some sort of appearance (Jason Berry and Tom Beller are both participating). But the whole thing is so intimately tied to the corny world of French Quarter festival season that it cripples its ability to feel in any way relevant or consequential as a literary event. Don’t get me wrong—I love The Glass Menagerie as much as anyone. But unless the TWF cuts its umbilical cord from kitschy New Orleans provincialism and stops pandering to tourists—which it won’t—the event will never amount to more than a caricature of the festival our oh-so-literary city is capable of and deserves.
So, all you local literati sipping mint julips at the Royal Sonesta can have fun hanging out with my parents. You won’t see me at the Tennessee Williams Festival.