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. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)


    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.