Published : Thursday, May 16, 2019 | 3:26 AM
The Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic, who recently passed, was a founder of LitFest who did live to see it become one of the largest book parties in the United States, with a variety of compelling panels, good reads, and great workshops.
His work in Pasadena will serve to gain him at least a modicum of the immortality many writers pine for.
“We’re holding the festival in Jonathan’s honor this year,” said Jervey Tervalon who, with Gold and fellow co-founder Larry Wilson, started LitFest eight years ago. “We’re going to be having this panel on how Jonathan Gold reinvented Los Angeles.”
The Jonathan Gold tribute panel will be held May 19th from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the Pasadena Playhouse main stage.
There may be some emotional moments getting through this year’s festival, the first without Gold around, Tervalon said.
The man who pried open a treasure chest of regional, culinary delights with his pen was a driving force behind the idea of getting authors into classrooms, Tervalon said, and a contributor to Literature for Life, an online publication/teacher resource, which puts writers in front of students throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Tervalon wants to impart the passion and enthusiasm for writing to others, which was Gold’s goal, too.
Before Gold’s passing, the LitFest co-founders discussed future plans and one on the boards is to start a “literature for teachers” style of conference. When teachers can convey the beauty and importance of the written word, the students will want to write, Tervalon said.
“Young people actually have to write and they have to be able to express themselves on the page,” he said. “And that’s not being emphasized. There’s a lot about testing and vocabulary work but in the public schools they are just not getting an opportunity to develop the skills as writers and passionate readers.”
Ego played a role in getting the festival off the ground, Tervalon said, after he was denied acceptance into the LA Times literary festival.
“I pitched the Idea of a literary festival to Larry and Jonathan after not being invited to the LA Times Book Festive — even though I had a book coming out from Amistad/Harper Collins,” Tervalon said. “Dean Banquet was running the LA Times and his uncle had dated my aunt in New Orleans and so I even had him over for gumbo.”
Gold and Wilson responded positively. A meeting was arranged with city officials as local businesses like Prospect Park Books and Red Hen Press signed on.
“I’ve always wanted to have a literary festival in Pasadena because I think it is a great city and deserves to be one of the focus points of the literary culture in Southern California,” Tervalon said. “This is our eighth year and we’re now the second-largest literary festival in California and one of the largest in the country.”
This year’s LitFest boasts a wide array of writing-related topics addressed by some 400 scribes. Tervalon says that because he takes pitches from impassioned people.
“We really want to be writer-driven,” he said. “We give the writers the opportunity to pitch an idea, but we want them to run with it. They can digress to amuse themselves. We think when writers are excited and free to be idiosyncratic, it makes for the best kinds of opportunities to entertain the audience.