David Foster Wallace, in his essay "Authority and American Usage," spoke of a specific type of nerd: the "SNOOT." Ostracized by every other nerd group, the "SNOOT" was the nerd responsible for correcting your grammar. He knew when to use "whom" and not "who," would cringe any time you misplaced your modifiers, and complained about the grocery store's "10 ITEMS OR LESS" sign. It seems that there are few places SNOOTS may go to enjoy themselves outside of the Public Library, but Marty Markowitz is out to change that. On Sunday, September 13th, Markowitz and the Brooklyn Literary Council hosted the 4th Annual Brooklyn Book Festival at Borough Hall. Publishers, authors and readers alike converged over new books, lit mags and discussion panels to celebrate all things readable and to argue about what the Kindle is doing to society.
Of course, there was plenty for non-Snoots to enjoy, too! The booths were comprised mostly of independent publishers and authors; Tao Lin and Wallace Shawn both held signings with their respective presses, while bookstores set up shop with special deals. Freebird Books had a selection of New York centered literature, and was giving out free samples of Moxie soda (apparently they double as one of the only Moxie vendors outside of New England.) PM Press had Slingshot postcards, and The Zero Dollar Tour was there, giving out books for free.
Authors such as Jonathan Lethem, Mary Gaitskill, Naomi Klein, and Heidi Julavits participated in panels, there was a tribute to Norman Mailer, and borough president Marty Markowitz made with the puns, declaring, "Now more than ever before, Brooklyn is Booklyn." And, for the other types of nerds, the authors of webcomic big-hitters like Goats and Dr. McNinja were out signing and shaking hands. Patrons flowed from poetry to non-fiction to erotica with ease, and everyone probably came out feeling a little smarter. Maybe next year it can include a Poet v. Fiction Writer rumble.