"'We have wacky mode,” Powell remembers Barthelme saying to his class, a writing workshop Powell was taking. “What must wacky mode do?” The students, clueless, stayed quiet. Barthelme said, “Break their hearts."
In this, Wacky Mode serves a similar function to a strange object covered with fur.
(Incidentally, Powell's new book is The Interrogative Mood: A Novel?, 165 pages of which every sentence is a question ("Should it still be Constatinople?" "Why won't the aliens step forth to help us?" "Do you dance?"). We'll have a [glowing] review in an upcoming issue of the L, but in the meantime, he reads tonight at 192 Books. Will he point to a different a different audience member after every question?)
Enter Jonathan Lethem, who, god love him, has found a way to read fiction for the people while simultaneously indulging his ego. Starting on Friday (at the New Yorker Festival no less) Lethem will begin to read from his new novel, Chronic City, and will continue to read it, from start to finish, over eight nights and seven NYC venues, until he has read the whole damn thing. The little tour will culminate at BookCourt, in an evening offering "prizes and absurdities," for your trouble, whatever that means. Anyway, I'm just glad I won't have to buy the book now, 'cause I'm poor.
It will be in many ways like the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. And in just as many, possibly more ways, it will emphatically not be anything like that. What will tonight's fevered climax of The L Magazine's Literary Upstart: The Search for Pocket Fiction be like? Well, to get an idea, you can watch video of June's semifinal reading: Jonny's introduction to the show part of the show; each of the five readers; and the judges announcing the winner. (For whatever reason, probably because of a video glitch, the video cuts out just before the entire audience surged forward to the stage and mobbed Jonny like at the end of Day of the Locust. This is, arguably, just as well.)
Anyway! Tonight, four marvy readers will duke it out for publication in the L's Summer Fiction Issue, a highly coveted Giant Novelty Check, a smaller, equally coveted Actual Check, and assorted other schwag, in front of a panel of discerning literati, drunken L Mag staffers powering through their Summerscreen hangovers, and you, presumably taking fullest advantage of, yes, the $1 cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Come join us at the Slipper Room at 7pm, won't you?
Summerscreen, The L's free outdoor film series at the ballfields of McCarren Park, near to the Turkey's Nest, will screen Reality Bites at dusk this Wednesday (tomorrow!), following some live music to be announced in a last-minute attention-getting shocker. UPDATE: There'll be a raucous set from Brooklyn's best house party band (assuming your house is actually a garage), Wild Yaks, at 6:30pm. But you should show up right at 6pm for a 90-minute Happy Hour featuring $4 Sixpoint beer and wines from Australia or someplace, and munch on food from San Loco, DUB Pies, Two Boots and Van Leeuwen Ice Cream. And then recite every line of Reality Bites along with us.
Literary Upstart, the L's short fiction competition, reaches its fevered conclusion on Thursday night, at the Slipper Room, when our three semifinal winners and one wild card read their stories for our witty, withering panel of judges, who will award one of them an enormous novelty check and publication in this month's Summer Fiction Issue. Listen while drinking dollar beers — what kind of beer will be on sale for a dollar is to be announced to be announced in a last-minute attention-getting shocker. Watch this space (or just show up)!
One of the summer's best and most challenging exhibitions will get a little easier to process tonight when critic and curator Lyle Rexer discusses the exhibition The Edge of Vision: Abstraction in Contemporary Photography that he curated for Aperture Foundation's gallery and the signs copies of the accompanying book Abstraction in Photography. The Edge of Vision looks at the various methods and subjects photographers use and choose to create abstract photographs, with strategies ranging from close-ups on patterned surfaces to studio and chemical manipulations.
The lecture and signing with Lyle Rexer is free and begins tonight at 6:30pm (547 W 27th St, 4th Fl). The exhibition The Edge of Vision, which includes work by Bill Armstrong, Charles Lindsay, Edward Mapplethorpe and Manuel Geerinck (work pictured) among others, continues through July 16. Also, don't forget to get your tickets for Aperture's first Some Like it Hot Summer Party on Thursday night.
One of the most charming exhibitions I've made it to during Northside is Steven Brower's delightfully quirky and clever BPL Mission 003 : Pre-Launch Operations Test (PLOT) at Parker's Box (193 Grand St). It's a wacky mash-up of a historical exhibition, a science museum, a contemporary installation and mission control for an upcoming space launch.
The "BPL" in its title stands for Brower Propulsion Laboratory (which consists solely of Brower), and the group's latest project involves tracking a major journey (literal and figurative) in American art history: painter Thomas Moran's 1871 expedition to the Yellowstone region of present-day Montana. Brower will be retracing that excursion using roboticized spacecraft, obviously, and with his launch date set for August he's hard at work with research and planning. He's taking a break from his intense pre-launch work schedule to explain some of the ideas behind the project today at 5pm at Parker's Box. Click here for more information about the exhibition, and click here for a full schedule of Art events at Northside.
The folks behind Improv Everywhere — the group that stages Internet meme- and catchy ad-friendly flashmobs in British and American train stations, at weddings, on subway platforms, in food courts and innumerable other public places — are releasing a book. Co-authors and group organizers Alex Scordelis and Charlie Todd will be at powerHouse Arena (37 Main St, 7-9pm) in Dumbo tonight discussing their work, screening footage of some of their group's most memorable pranks and signing copies of Causing a Scene: Extraordinary Pranks in Ordinary Places with Improv Everywhere. The event is free, but an RSVP is required. Click here for more details and to RSVP. In the meantime, here's my favorite Improve Everywhere flashmob to whet your appetite:
Did we mention that BAM and Asia Society are currently hosting the first of what will surely become an annual academic conference and arts festival hybrid called Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas? The fest features music, film, lectures, readings, visual art (including Edward Grazda's street photography of New York's inconspicuous mosques, pictured) and a production of Shakespeare's Richard III recast as an oil economy dictatorship. The international slate of events prizes the variety of voices emerging from the region, highlighting diversity rather than seeking some fictional unifying trend. Muslim voices continues through June 14.
On a similar and purely co-incidental note, the big new show at the Queens Museum of Art takes a similar stance on the artistic production of the region. Tarjama/Translation, which continues at the QMA through September 27, features nearly 30 artists working in all manner of media and offering different takes on their national and regional identities.
The marvelous Tommy Pico is the man behind Birdsong, an actual printed zine of prose, poetry and interviews. We once got drunk and I called him an "Injun" and he yelled "ALL YR SCALPZ ARE BELONG TO US." (True story, he was born and raised on the rez and I'm a loud drunk.) Tommy will be hosting Birdsong's issue #6 party/reading this Saturday at Stain Bar, and you should go. Not only are the contributors (and hangers on) generally attractive and smart, but Jess Paps will be playing her songs, one of which ("Seen it All") is my favorite of the last three months. Also featured will be Hotel St. George mastermind (and Literary Upstart Judge) Aaron Petrovich. You would be an asshole to miss this.
Other countries are great because a) they are not nations of hideous slobs, like ours, and b) they just love to try to boost their cultural profile in America by sponsoring cool events here, for their culture-makers. Support for artists, entertainment and edification for audiences, everybody wins.
Like this Festival of New French Writing thing, which the French Embassy and France's Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture are holding with NYU this evening, all day tomorrow, and Saturday afternoon. The basic idea, it seems, is to put an established or emerging French writer and an American writer onstage together, and shake the stage until they fight, or else have interesting and unreplicateable conversations about literature and culture and whatnot.
I never know on posts like this how much it helps to mention the names of the writers involved — it'd take up too much space and be too boring to explain who these people are if you don't know them already, and I never know if you know or not because who can say how big a star a writer is in someone else's cultural firmament? Can we really ever know each other? (No. No we cannot. Just check the schedule and bios.) Well, in any case, Bernard Henri-Levy gon be there; in his honor this post is accompanied by the unbuttoned-shirtiest BHL photo I could find. There were many.
*If we were an old couple, dated for years, this'd be where you say, "They have good beer there," and I say, "... now I know how bad American beer is."
Percival Everett is an award-winning author of nearly 20 books of fiction and poetry — including the acclaimed novels Wounded and Erasure — as well as a painter, scholar, and teacher. His most recent book of poetry, Abstraktion und EinfÃ¼hlung — a title borrowed from an essay by the early twentieth-century art critic Wilhelm Worringer — was released earlier this year by Akashic. Everett recently took the time to email with The L to talk about his new collection.
The L: When and how did you first become acquainted with Wilhelm Worringer's theory of "abstract" art and "realist" art? Did it immediately strike you as something you wanted to investigate creatively?
Percival Everett: I was aware of Worringer long before I knew anything about his thinking about primitive art and, by extension, abstract art. I struggled through the work with my limited knowledge of German and my English/German dictionary. I didn't know when I was studying it that I would use it in any way.
For obvious reasons The L is a great fan of literary events which encourage drinking, backtalk, and, on very special occasions, laser tag. So we quite like Opium Magazine ("the magazine that tells you how long it will take to read each story it publishes"), for running events like the Literary Upstart-like Literary Death Match. And, apparently, Opium Live, a new interview series featuring roundtable discussion and then an after-party in which writers are cruelly forced to DJ.
So tonight, there's that, for the first time, at Happy Ending — featuring, among others, the ubiquitous Ben Greenman, Literary Upstart's Distinguished Spokesjudge and, apparently, patron saint of small lit organizations trying to attract attention via quirky stuntlike events — plus an after- and after-after-party, for the sake of literacy.
Renowned pianist and former Chicago Symphony conductor Daniel Barenboim's latest tome Music Quickens Time explores why music has such universal appeal -- it is the signifier to end all signifiers, after all -- and how it can help us understand the secrets of human nature. Like, on that last cloying episode of The Hills, the emo tuneage MTV carefully selected to play in the background told you exactly how to feel! Wasn't that telling?
Music Quickens Time discusses two Palestinians who were both changed by music, how an orchestra composed of Israeli and Palestinian musicians played its part to smooth over centuries of hatred, the author's own performances of Wagner in Israel, plus his friendship with the late Edward Said.
This coming Tuesday at 7pm, at the New Y ork Public Library (Fifth Avenue and 42nd St), Barenboim will examine the transformative power of music in the world with the New York Public Library's Director of Public Programs Paul Holdengraber. Tickets are $15 general admission; $10 for students and seniors. Bring your iPods, or even your Zunes, if you must.
www.smartix.com (discount code PIANO for $10 tickets).
There are two Happy Ending readings left at the actual Happy Ending, but before Amanda Stern's series packs off for bigger digs, the Book Bench has a nice little round-up of some literary stage risks Stern has taken in the last five years.
Catch the next event on December 10th, featuring Joan Wickersham, Marion Winik, Ammon Shea and, maybe, music from
Jeffrey Lewis. The final Happy Ending show is on December 17th and brings back the original line-up: Nelly Reifler, A.M. Homes, the Wingdale Community Singers , plus a big thank-you/good-bye party.
Then, it's off to Joe's Pub once a month.
We've spent quite some time imagining what would happen if Alex Ross and Sasha Frere-Jones â The New Yorker's classical music and pop music critics, respectively â teamed up on some kind of super-project. We still await the day that will actually happen, whether it's in print, blog, or New Yorker Festival form (hint!). But until then, an interesting mash-up of sorts occurs tonight at the 92nd Street Y. Ross, the of The Rest is Noise and the recipient of the MacAruthur "Genius" Grant, will steps out of the classical music bubble and decides to tell you all about the contemporary compositions he favors. Does he like Rihanna as much as we do? Is he obsessed with Okkervil River? Do the first few bars of Tokyo Police Club's âYour English Is Good' make him want to grab his partner and hit the dance floor? We don't know, but we will. Soon. Very, very soon.
Alex Ross reads tonight at 8:15 pm at the 92nd Street Y. Tickets are $27. 1395 Lexington Ave, at 92nd St, 92y.org.
So, guys, 2666? Last week I was going to write about Jonathan Lethem's shit-flipping Times Book Review crowning of Roberto BolaÃ±o's everything-in-it book, but then Mike Conklin forwarded the office a video of a puppy and I got distracted. But! Natasha Wimmer is the woman who has translated BolaÃ±o's posthumous American reputation-making The Savage Detectives and now 2666, his five-part, 900-page say-it-all-before-you-drop-dead masterpiece. She'll be at the Strand tonight, talking with perhaps the world's leading translator, Edith Grossman — Gabbo Marquez's English voice and recently the translator of a major, controversially liberty-taking Don Quixote — about their difficult and perhaps quixotic art. And probably talking a lot about this book for which the literary canon has apparently waived its customary waiting period for admittance, like the Baseball Hall of Fame with Roberto Clemente.
Literary man-about-town and friend of the L Ben Greenman reads, a little, at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum tonight, for what's mostly a release party for his new book? story collection? interactive epistolary project? Correspondences, which is a letterpress box-type book consisting of six stories-in-the-form-of-letters, and one story which requests readers to mail in a postcard to help complete the story — the Postcard Project. So I would obviously encourage you to send Ben Greenman many humorous postcards, for literature, and also to perhaps attend this party which is of course tonight and the very reason for this post.
Well, that and the opportunity to find and share amusing postcards.
Comes late word that author, humorist and friend-of-the-L Ben Greenman is reading tonight at the National Arts Club, which we'll get to, from his dewy-fresh forthcoming book Correspondences, a letter-press project featuring epistolary, some of it interactive (it's complicated, check out the link, but the story from it that I've heard was good — funny in places but mostly glancingly specific). Also reading is the long-dead reporter and Communist John Reed, played by Warren Beatty in Reds, presenting his All The World's A Grave: A New Play by William Shakespeare.
So, the National Arts Club is a fancy Gramercy institution with a dress code. Classy! The "suggested dress code" is here, you will note that the "code is strictly encouraged," which — strictly encouraged? — is pretty passive-aggressive, for a dress code, I think. Anyway, it's fun to dress up for literature, you should more often. Just last weekend I rented a tuxedo (vest, not cummerbund) to leaf through my trade paperback copy of Forward, Gunner Asch!*
(Since the reading info does not appear to be on the Nat'l A.C. website, I will add that the reading is at 7pm, plenty of time to go home and change, since I'm guessing your job does not understand this "business casual" business.)
* I know, right?
In Opium Magazine's Literary Death Match, a handful of readers present a lively work of short fiction and of the readers a winner is picked by a panel of judges including author, humorist and New Yorker editor Ben Greenman. You know, pretty much like Literary Upstart (though pitting journals and reading series against each other, rather than open-call submissions). Which, we presume, is why The L Magazine's Literary Upstart: The Search for Pocket Fiction was asked to stand a reader at tonight's Death Match.
So tonight at 7pm, at The Kitchen in the lower part of Chelsea, 2007 Upstart finalist Lincoln Michel (standing in at the last minute for our friend Tom Hopkins) will sally forth to read for the honor of the L and the merit of Literary Upstart. We are confident — after all, this is not our first ro-day-o.
You should come, too, to bring a bit of Upstart flavor — by which I guess I sorta just mean drunkenness — to this reading that is sort of like Upstart except that I don't have to wear a suit and ask strangers to participate in New York City Literary Trivia, hooray.
In my defense, it works either way, & I love your stuff...
Ha - never mind, just re-read it properly for the 1st time (LOL)
I know you're an online writer, but you should use 'know' & 'now' properly if…