It is always glorious to see how many people love the written word at the annual Tucson Festival of Books. Since making its debut in 2009, this has become one of the biggest book festivals in the country, bringing authors big and small across genres to the UA mall for a weekend of literary celebration.
We're doing a little literary celebration ourselves this week, with an excerpt from an upcoming UA Press book. Pushing Our Limits: Insights from Biosphere 2 is the first-person story of one of the original Biosphereans, Mark Nelson, who tells the inside story of what it was like to be part of the first—and only—crew to undertake the full two-year mission at Biosphere 2. The people behind the giant terrarium up in Oracle didn't fulfill their original plan of having rotating crews every two years for a century, but the facility is now in the hands of the University of Arizona, which is finding new ways to use it for the advancement of science.
Elsewhere on the book front: Arts writer Margaret Regan, who has written extensively about the border in these pages and in her two books (The Death of Josseline, Detained and Deported), interviews Francisco Cantú, who has just published a book about his four years working for the Border Patrol. As Regan explains, Cantú has faced ire on both the left and the right for writing the book, which is critical of some of his erstwhile Border Patrol colleagues.
And if you're looking for Weekly folks at the festival: Tucson Salvage columnist Brian Smith, who is also the author of the recent fiction collection Spent Saints, will join "Best Things, Small Packages," a panel on the art of the short story. Along with Brian, you'll find Thomas Mira y Lopez, UA creative nonfiction Master of Fine Arts alum, and Daniel Olives, author of nine books and editor of two anthologies. Kevin Canty moderates from 4 to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 10 in the Student Union Kachina Room.
At the exact same time on Saturday, I'll be moderating a panel dubbed "Media Unplugged: What Is Really Happening" with three terrific journalists: John Nichols, Liza Mundy and Kathryn Watterson. We'll be in the Integrated Learning Center Room 120.
Elsewhere in this week's book: Calendar editor Emily Dieckman previews Arizona Theatre Company's upcoming production of Low Down Dirty Blues; staff reporter Jeff Gardner introduces Tucson to neo-Neapolitan pizza by way of Portland; Bob Grimm says Death Wish will steal two hours from your life that you'll never get back; staff reporter Christopher Boan catches up on the latest—as of deadline, anyhow—on the UA men's basketball program; medical marijuana columnist Nick Meyers follows the latest legislation at the Arizona Legislature; in The Skinny, I catch up with fresh lunacy from Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller as she tries to stop Rio Nuevo legislation that has passed the Arizona House of Representatives and is moving through the Arizona Senate; and there's plenty more, so dig in.
See y'all at the Book Fest!
— Jim Nintzel, Executive Editor