Their star pupil, Mystic River author Dennis Lehane, will rekindle his own South Florida connection. "I've known Mitchell [Kaplan] from Books & Books forever," Lehane recalls. "He got me on a panel at the Book Fair when my first book came out. I think like four people showed up, but it meant a lot to me."
It's a safe bet the crowd will be larger this time around. Critics have lauded Lehane's newest novel, The Given Day, a departure from his grimy Patrick Kenze thrillers in its re-creation of a riotous 1919 Boston police strike. And Lehane's audience has exploded since movies made from his novels Gone Baby Gone and Mystic River, directed by Ben Affleck and Clint Eastwood, respectively, garnered several Oscar nods and a win for Best Picture. "I keep saying this, but there's no connection whatsoever between the films and my writing. I never give it a thought, not even a fleeting thought," Lehane says. "When I'm writing, it's between me and one reader. My job is to connect with this imaginary reader, seduce them almost into listening to what I'm trying to tell them."
The Miami Book Fair International kicks off Nov. 8 at the Arsht Center, with performances by the Florida Grand Opera, the Unity on the Bay choir, the New World School of the Arts symphony orchestra, Ballet Gamonet, Momentum Dance Company, Actors Playhouse, and GableStage. For free tickets to the inaugural ceremony call 305-949-6722, or visit arshtcenter.org. The street book fair continues through Nov. 16. Check out miamibookfair.com.
The writer can't quite believe how well Hollywood has treated his work. Martin Scorsese is now directing another of Lehane's books, Shutter Island, and is said to have Leonardo DiCaprio lined up for the starring role. "I didn't tell anyone about Scorsese," he says. "When the announcement came out, one of the first emails I got was from a good buddy of mine, another writer who's going through the whole Hollywood thing. I opened it and all it said was: FUCK YOU. I mean, what else do you say when the reality is this amazing?"