“Call Your Mother” and other advice from this year’s St. Louis Jewish Book Festival

As you might imagine, things will run a little bit differently at this year’s St. Louis Jewish Book Festival which, like many other festivals, has moved fully online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the lineup for this year’s 42nd iteration follows the template of years past with a wide-ranging group of authors leading discussions on their latest works.

The lineup officially kicks off on Sunday November 1st at 7:00PM with Barry Sonnenfeld, a famed cinematographer (Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing, Big, When Harry Met Sally, Misery, among others) who went on to direct the blockbuster Addams Family and Men in Black franchises. As the festival’s keynote speaker, Sonnenfeld will be interviewed by Saturday Night Live and It’s Garry Shandling’s Show writer Alan Zweibel about his new memoir, Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother, which explores his oddball upbringing and his unusual path to a Hollywood career.

Several other events spotlight authors and subjects you might recognize from that business they call “show.” A week before Sonnenfeld’s keynote, longtime Good Morning America host Joan Lunden joins KSDK anchor Kay Quinn to discuss Lunden’s comedic look at the foibles of getting older, Why Did I Come Into This Room? A Candid Conversation About Aging (Sunday, October 25th, 7:00PM). Standup comedian and “Kill Me Now” podcaster Judy Gold digs into the slippery slope of censorship with her new book Yes, I Can Say That: When They Come for the Comedians We Are All in Trouble (Monday, November 2nd, 7:00PM). And as part of the Jewish Lives book series, author Liel Leibovitz remembers the epic career of Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee in Stan Lee: A Life in Comics (Sunday, November 8th, 2:00PM).

On the historical side, David G. Marwell explores how a man became a monster in his biography Mengele: Unmasking the “Angel of Death” (Friday, November 6th, 2:00PM). In The Watergate Girl: My Fight for Truth and Justice Against a Criminal President, Jill Wine-Banks recalls her day as the only female prosecutor on the team who tried the Watergate co-conspirators (Thursday, November 5th, 2:00PM). And Ronald H. Balson uses the long shadow of the Holocaust as a springboard for Eli’s Promise, his new novel that stretches its story from wartime Poland through post-war West Germany to Chicago during the Vietnam War era (Thursday, November 5th, 7:00PM).

There are also two dedicated theme nights. “Sports Night” (Wednesday November 4th, 7:00PM) features Jon Pessah, author of a new remembrance of New York Yankee and St. Louis legend Yogi Berra titled Yogi: A Life Behind the Mask, and Ben Cohen, whose The Hot Hand explores the nature of lucky hot streaks. The panel for “Mystery Night” (Saturday, November 7th, 7:00PM) includes Sara Paretsky (here to rep Dead Land, her latest V.I. Warshawski novel, which you may remember from the 1991 film starring Kathleen Turner) and Hank Phillipi Ryan, award-winning author of The Murder List  and The First to Lie.

The festival officially runs from November 1st through 8th. A virtual pass to all programs at the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival runs $95, or programs can be purchased individually. For a full list of author events or to buy your tickets, visit jccstl.com/festival-events-schedule. To read the full festival brochure, click here. | Jason Green

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