The Sun Valley Writer’s Conference is one of my favorite weekends of the year, filled with Pulitzer Prize winning authors, poets, humorists, and in this case, an opera singer. I spend the entire weekend expanding my mind with as much knowledge as possible starting with David Brooks who has always been amongst one of my favorite columnists at the New York Times. He has just completed his bestselling nonfiction book “The Social Animal”. I listened to David on two occasions – his book suggests that we are ruled by our unconscious more than we realize and, combined with our emotions, our character is greatly influenced by this part of our mind. He also gave a breakout session on modern day culture and the march from concern for others towards overconfidence and preoccupation with ourselves and how this did not seem like a good progression for American society.
Rick Reilly is one of the most highly regarded sports writers in America and had us laughing throughout his entire presentation. Kati Marton, who was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Award and a highly esteemed journalist, has written an incredible memoir titled ‘Enemies of the People: My Families Journal to America’. Her presentation of the story as well as her profile of her late husband Richard Holbrooke were both emotionally very moving. The actress Rohan McCullough presented a one-woman show ‘My Darling Clemmie’ where we were able to watch Clementine Churchill come alive before our eyes and give us a wonderful first hand English history lesson. The beautiful poetry of US poet Laureate K Ryan, the humor of Calvin Trillin, the famous writer for the New Yorker regaled us with one humorist story after another. Katherine Stockett exuded Southern charm while she told us about her 60 rejections before her bestselling author ‘The Help’ was finally published and made into a film by her childhood friends from Mississippi. John Burnham Schwartz who has taught at Harvard University and is Literary Director of the Sun Valley Writer’s Conference explained to us with wonderful sense of humor how to invent a story and how he does it with his own son. Angela Brown, the incredible Soprano, sang so beautifully in the amphitheater. Many other wonderful moments with old and new friends made this a sensational weekend.