Sun., Sept 18: Reality Bites Back at Brooklyn Book Festival


As a born-and-bred Brooklynite — and a lit geek, ‘natch — I’m thrilled to be bringing Reality Bites Back to the fifth annual Brooklyn Book Festival, along with brilliant writers including Laura Flanders, Jeremy Scahill, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and several Pulitzer Prize winners.

WHERE: Brooklyn Historical Society Main Hall (128 Pierrepont Street, Brooklyn, NY)

WHEN: 5pm, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011

WHAT: Media Representations and Reality: The debate continues over whether the media reflects reality or has a hand in shaping it. Like Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, the act of presenting the news can very often alter it. No one knows this better than Brooke Gladstone of “On the Media,” whose new book The Influencing Machine with Josh Neufeld examines the role of the media in American society. Patrice Evans, (Negropedia), examines media representations of African-Americans, and Jennifer Pozner (Reality Bites Back) looks at the completely unreal world of reality television. Moderated by Juan Gonzalez (News for All the People).

Haven’t heard yet from the panel organizers about whether I’m going to be giving prepared remarks, just answering questions from the moderator, or both, but whatever the format, I’ll do my best to discuss the media economics, product placement advertising, and virulent institutional sexism and racism at play within reality television. And I’ll throw in some laughs, like I do…

From the BBF’s website:

“The Brooklyn Book Festival is the largest free literary event in New York City presenting an array of literary stars and emerging authors who represent the exciting world of literature today. One of America’s premier book festivals, this hip, smart, diverse gathering attracts thousands of book lovers of all ages.”

Last year, when I attended a gut-wrenching yet crucial Brooklyn Book Festival panel on war reporting — as well as an amusing session on comedy writing with The Daily Show’s Kristen Schaal and John Hodgeman — Reality Bites Back had just been sent to the printer. I was in a weird literary limbo of having just birthed a tome (and yes, I still have the extra book-baby weight to prove it!) that no one had read yet. As I listened to authors I admire talk about their work, I hoped my own would be equally well-received… and fantasized about the possibility of speaking at the BBF this year.

Eleven months later, I couldn’t be happier. After nearly a year of stellar media coverage including reviews in The New Yorker, Newsweek, The Nation, Ms. and MacLeans magazines, I can’t imagine a better capstone than not only being asked to participate in the festival, but also being included in a small handful of “Notable authors” in the BBF’s press materials. I’m ridiculously honored (and, to be honest, kind of dumbfounded by that).*

The Brooklyn Book Festival is free and open to the public, but you’ll need to get tickets at the info booths in advance (last year’s lines were easily 60 to 90 minutes long for most plum sessions, so plan accordingly).

Hope to see you (and sign your books) there!

*Although not too dumbfounded to note that it’s a shame that of the nine participants highlighted in the non-fiction category, only three are women. But, never fear, a great many engaging women in non-fiction will be participating in the various Brooklyn Book Festival events.


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