Friday, August 19, 2011

Writers and Nature in Sun Valley, Idaho

My trip to Sun Valley, Idaho for the Sun Valley Writers' Conference is coming up soon.  This trip has become a summer tradition.  I am excited to be going there because Sun Valley, Idaho is one of the most beautiful places in the world, with breathtaking scenery and many hiking opportunities.  And the Sun Valley Writers' Conference is an incredibly exciting intellectual experience.

Those who attend hear at least three writers a day talk about the subjects they are passionate about -- politics, history, biography, fiction, poetry, and many other subjects.  In between the big talks that take place in the open air amphitheater, there are "break-out" sessions which involve the writers speaking to smaller groups in more intimate settings.  I'll never forget hearing Frank McCourt talk to us about his favorite books, the ones that made a difference to his life.  Or Ethan Canin tell us the incredibly moving story of how he quit being a doctor to write fiction.   Abraham Verghese talked about his book "Cutting For Stone" and it quickly became one of the best books I read that year.   Then there are the dinners after the evening events where we rehash everything and often run into the writers at the restaurants in Sun Valley.

This year's conference will include David Brooks, Kathryn Stockett, Colum McCann, Calvin Trillin, and David Grossman, just to name a few.  I am especially excited to hear Kathryn Stockett talk about "The Help" and Colum McCann talk about "Let the Great World Spin."  Israeli author David Grossman has written a moving book about Israel that everyone is talking about.  We will have the opportunity to get their books signed and also purchase audiotapes of their lectures.  And I have bought many of these and listened to them after returning home.  Last summer Niall Ferguson, the dynamic author and Harvard business school professor, brought the house down with his talk on the economy. Trust me, although that may sound unlikely, he really made the topic come alive.  And Mary Karr was fascinating as she talked to us about her life and her memoir "Lit."  And the year before Ayaan Hirsi, who wrote "Infidel" had us riveted with the story of her Muslim childhood in Somalia.

I take my camera, my notebook, and my hiking boots.  There is something about experiencing life changing intellectual discovery in this scenic mountain retreat that is magical.  Stay tuned, I will be blogging about this year's conference soon!  


  1. What a wonderful tradition!! I'm sure you'll have a marvelous time - I can't wait to hear all about it. And in the meantime, wishing you a wonderful weekend!!

  2. Gracious, what a lineup!
    This sounds like heaven!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Frank McCourt was a regular fixture (as were/are) many other well known writers on Martha's Vineyard.
    A most charming, and eloquent man, who is dearly missed.
    Have a wonderful time, looking forward to your post on your experience. Does sound like heaven.

  5. This sounds wonderful. I will be avidly following your posts on this experience.

  6. I'm llate to this post because I've been joining you at all of the above. You, Scott, Megan, Heather and Alex make it all come alive!

  7. Margo, as always it is one of the best experiences of its kind. Staying at your beautiful home is always the icing on the cake. Thanks again for introducing us to this very unique and inspiring experience in gorgeous Sun Valley, Idaho. We love sharing it with you!