An updated collection of comics that meditates on “occult economics” and “demographic demons,” all framed by world-bending architecture (“Beta Testing the Ongoing Apocalypse”). A chapbook that puts itself in conversation with “The Wizard of Oz” (“A Homegrown Fairytale”). A community contest that asks young readers to create “edible books.” A conversation about desire and consent through the lens of science and the #MeToo movement (“Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again”), followed immediately by a look at the life of a Black woman who hid her identity to become J.P. Morgan’s librarian (“The Personal Librarian”). These are a few of the discussions happening at the 2021 Six Bridges Book Festival from the Central Arkansas Library System, which runs from Thursday, Oct. 21, to Sunday, Oct. 31.
This year, the fest is almost fully virtual, but no less ambitious in scope. If you’re venturing out, join the Arkansas Times for drinks at Stickyz Rock ’n’ Roll Chicken Shack for Pub or Perish at 7 p.m. Oct. 23, where host Chris James will lead a lineup of readings from local writers and poets. Otherwise, grab the printable schedule at cals.org/six-bridges-book-festival, make your picks, mark your calendars. Meanwhile, we’ve included some brief interviews conducted over email with a few of the Arkansas-connected authors featured on the Six Bridges lineup this year:
Abby Turner is a Ouachita Baptist University graduate, food blogger, speaker and author of “The Living Table: Recipes and Devotions for Everyday Get-Togethers.” Catch Turner at the Six Bridges Book Festival at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30 and at 10 a.m. that day for a workshop.
There’s sort of an interesting phenomenon that happens with food on social media. On the one hand, part of your message is that you shouldn’t wait until your home is perfect before you invite folks over. But on the other hand, you’re a food blogger and a personality on Instagram — worlds where there’s a pressure to make objects/food look perfect so that you get more eyes on them. How do you balance the two?
It’s definitely an interesting dichotomy and can be pretty toxic if I don’t have checks and balances set up. My feed and my blog are perfectly curated. I know that, and I have fun with food styling and curating recipes. However, I use tools like my Instagram TV feed with my Sunday night show, “Sunday Supper Club,” my Instagram Stories, and I’ve even been known to feature my own Pinterest fails in my reels to showcase the lack of perfection and humanity behind the feed. It’s super important to me that I build a relationship with my audience that is real and genuine and shows the mess behind the perfectly styled feed.
It’s been a hard year for dinner parties. How have you seen people in your circles connect through food during times when it’s not been safe to gather socially?
The desire to gather with people and to build relationships is how we were created — the isolation that we have experienced has been hard, but it’s also helped us be more creative in our approach to community. Outdoor gatherings have definitely had an uptick, which is great because I’m a BIG S’mores girl! But I’ve also seen smaller gatherings be so sweet in this season, because with fewer people we are able to go deeper in conversation and drive more intimate relationships. When you look at it from that lens, this has been a time for connection and driving closer community.