Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Collegial day for book lovers in St. Petersburg

Jane Harvey-Stovall, 57, of St. Petersburg peruses books for sale at USF St. Petersburg during the Festival of Reading Saturday.


Jane Harvey-Stovall, 57, of St. Petersburg peruses books for sale at USF St. Petersburg during the Festival of Reading Saturday.

ST. PETERSBURG — It was symbolic of the best and worst of our times.

Inside an auditorium at the University of South Florida, Kevin Phillips, a former Republican strategist and author, discussed his latest book and the world's economic crisis.

Outside on a stage in the middle of a grassy field where audiences nibbled or corn dogs and popcorn, the folksy Earthlings Electric Washboard Band sang Take Me Out to the Ball Game. The lead singer begged for tickets to catch a World Series game, to no avail.

Phillips and the Earthlings were part of the 16th Annual St. Petersburg Times Festival of Reading Saturday that drew hundreds of book lovers to downtown St. Petersburg.

In addition to Phillips, the festival featured dozens of authors that included such novelists as Dennis Lehane, whose bestselling books will yield his third big-screen film release in October 2009.

Authors peppered details of their writings with humorous one-liners about those who served as inspiration for their books.

"Never in American history has someone with so little to offer been in office for so long," Phillips said about President George W. Bush, prompting widespread laughter and applause.

Phillips, also a former White House strategist, wrote Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism.

All told, the crowd taking in his speech wasn't just interested in what he wrote, but also his view of the economic crisis.

"Would you please give us your blame list," one audience member asked Phillips.

"You have to start with George W.," Phillips said. He added former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, current Chairman Ben Bernanke, former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (whom he dubbed Mr. and Mrs. Citigroup), among others politicos.

Phillips said there's plenty of blame to put on the Republicans and Democrats.

The hundreds gathered for Phillips' speech matched that of Lehane, who took the same stage in the USF St. Petersburg Activities Center to talk about his latest book The Given Day. The book is a historical novel set in Lehane's hometown, Boston, just after World War I.

Thoughts of Boston invoked some of Lehane's fondest childhood memories. "My father would take me to the bar every Saturday morning," he told an audience that began chuckling.

Rick Smith, 45, of St. Petersburg flashed a grin as he waited for Lehane to sign a copy of the book he just bought.

"I started reading his books, and I'm hooked. He conveys the dark side of life without wallowing in it."

Anna Andrade, a 15-year-old Largo resident and student at St. Petersburg Catholic High School, left a bit overwhelmed by Lehane's presentation.

"It was kind of cool to see him, a big writer and all," Anna said.

Collegial day for book lovers in St. Petersburg 10/25/08 [Last modified: Saturday, October 25, 2008 11:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Analysis: Manchester attack was exactly what many had long feared


    LONDON — For Britain's security agencies, London always seemed like the likely target. For years, the capital of 8 million with hundreds of thousands of weekly tourists and dozens of transit hubs had prepared for and feared a major terror attack.

  2. Dade City man dies after crashing into county bus, troopers say

    Public Safety

    ZEPHYRHILLS — A 38-year-old man died Tuesday after colliding into the rear of a county bus on U.S. 301, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  3. Suspicious device at Pinellas Park home was a spent artillery round, police say

    Public Safety

    PINELLAS PARK — Bomb squad investigators determined that a "suspicious device" found at a Pinellas Park home Tuesday afternoon was a spent artillery round, police said.

  4. NFL rewards Tampa Bay's track record, preparation with another Super Bowl


    Tampa Bay got lucky on Tuesday.

    We are getting a Super Bowl. We are getting a Super Bowl that we weren't supposed to get. We're getting a Super Bowl that we once were told we wouldn't get.

    Then came good luck.

     Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer (left) and son Edward Glazer celebrate the Bucs win and their upcoming trip to San Diego and the Super Bowl.  

[Bill Serne | Times]
  5. Baker fundraiser all about "Seamless City"


    Rick Baker kicked off a fundraiser Tuesday night at the Morean Arts Center making light of his 40-minute announcement speech two weeks ago on the steps of City Hall.

    Rick Baker speaks at a fundraiser at the Morean Arts Center Tuesday