By Michael P. Quinlin
CAMBBRIDGE, Mass. – Forget about the Peruvian panpipe band outside the Harvard Coop, the tattooed teenage skateboarders lounging near the Out of Town News kiosk, or the speed chess players challenging all comers for three bucks a game next to Au Ban Pain.
These are sideshows to the real action this weekend around Harvard Square, the world’s harbinger of intellectual fashion, as writers, critics, pundits and scholars gather to celebrate two distinct literary traditions, each with a distinctly Irish flavor.
The first is the annual Harvard Book Festival, a three-day extravaganza for talkers, thinkers, writers and book buyers who revel in the well-formed sentence and the perfect punch line. The ubiquitous Frank McCourt returns tto read at an author breakfast on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. at the Charles River Hotel. Then, on Sunday at 2 p.m., a panel of young Irish novelists – Colum McCann, Emer Martin and Keith Ridgeway – read from their works at the Yeching Lecture Hall at Harvard.
The writers will be followed by a panel discussion entitled
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