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The Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society's Words and Music festival explores conflict and fiction under the 2010 theme "Literature of War & Collateral Damage." The focus commemorates William Faulkner's first novel, Soldier's Pay, which was written in New Orleans. The five-day festival features readings and discussions by award-winning writers, master classes, agent and editor critiques, luncheons and parties.

  Headlining the festival is Tim O'Brien, a veteran of the Vietnam War and Pulitzer Prize-nominated author of The Things They Carried. His short stories and novels about the Vietnam War use fiction as a tool to portray the reality of the conflict. "Literature is one way, through a story, poem or novel, of helping people feel something of what it is like to go through war instead of seeing it on the news," O'Brien says. "Identifying with the characters' blood raising, emotions involved."

  O'Brien will host a class for writers and teachers on Wednesday and deliver a keynote address on Thursday at the National World War II Museum. Louisiana actress and writer Rebecca Wells, author of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, presents a dramatic reading of her short story "E-Z Boy War" from the recently published Best of LSU Fiction on Saturday. British novelist Simon Mawer (The Glass Room) discusses his novel about the struggles of a Jewish family in Czechoslovakia during World War I and II. Saturday night's "Faulkner for All" event at the Hotel Monteleone features humorist Roy Blount Jr. discussing his latest book, Hail, Hail Euphoria! Presenting The Marx Brothers in Duck Soup, The Greatest War Movie Ever Made, after a screening of the short Marx Brothers antiwar comedy. Blount also serves as toastmaster of the awards dinner. Individual event ticket prices vary; festival passes are available. Visit www.wordsandmusic.org for a full schedule. — Jamie Carroll

Words and Music Festival

November 17-23

Various locations, 586-1609; www.wordsandmusic.org