Sunday, March 18, 2012

Southwest Florida Reading Festival-13 Years and Growing!

The culmination of another year of hard work by Jessica Girlando, Kathleen Young-Wells, and their committees, the 13th annual reading festival was held on Friday and Saturday and was, once again, a resounding success! I marvel at how far we've come from our first days when my buddy Maryellen got to drive Carl Hiaasen from the hotel to the park in downtown Ft. Myers, Florida, to speak under a tree to a "crowd" of probably 100 people, and I had the formidable task of "handling" the local authors, whose egos knew no bounds.

I'm proud that my suggestion to choose Dr. Michael Palmer for the Distinguished Author award was accepted. After his heartfelt, deeply personal speech Friday evening at the awards dinner at The Landings, I think everyone would agree that his work with addicted physicians in his home state of Massachusetts is a truly worthy endeavor.

 Michael talked of the privilege that money and respect bestow on doctors, allowing them to hide their dependencies on drugs, but mostly alcohol, from their patients and peers. No matter how often the news media and our own internal prejudices paint the all too obvious portrait of drug addicts as young, poor and black, the statistics prove that, in fact, most impaired people are middle class whites.

Dr. Palmer doesn't shy away from his work in ER medicine or his respect for AA in his novels and has actually introduced a new character, Dr. Lou Welcome, (who may be Michael's alter-ego ) in his most recent page-turner, Oath of Office. We were told yesterday that Lou will be starring once again in the novel Michael's currently working on. Dr. Welcome works to rehab good doctors who have gone off the rails from stress and easy proximity to drugs. But when one of his former success stories, Dr. John Meacham, blows away the folks in his waiting room one peaceful afternoon, all eyes turn on Dr. Welcome to shoulder the blame. If you missed it, I blogged about this novel a couple of months ago. You can check it out at:

I tend to go back to old posts looking for comments and deleting junk. I've noticed that my posts can go on and on. At the risk of being too wordy today, and because I want to read Stewart O'Nan's The Odds this afternoon, so that I can send it along to the next person on the wait list, I'm going to talk about Zane's presentation tomorrow. She was a knockout and I'm so sorry that more people weren't there to hear her.

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