Monday? NPR’s Brooke Gladstone will discuss The Influencing Machine, her work of graphic nonfiction (by which I mean it’s illustrated and in panels, not, you know, PG-13) about the media. Maybe you’ve been looking at some of the excerpts over on Slate, or maybe you haven’t but should be.
Tuesday? Tuesday we’ve got this impossible-to-catchily-name event for Granta’s Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists issue. With editors galore—Jonathan Galassi of FSG, Barbara Epler of New Directions, Overlook’s Peter Mayer, Amy Hundley of Grove Atlantic, and Duomo Ediciones’ Valerie Miles—and authors galore. Andrés Barba (Spain), Oliverio Coelho (Argentina), Carlos Labbé (Chile), Javier Montes (Spain), Alberto Olmos (Spain), and Antonio Ortuño (Mexico). Ay dios mio. Que suerte, no?
Wednesday? We’ve got Lynne Tillman & Paula “Courtney Love’s Grandmother” Fox. I don’t even feel like blurbing this one it’s going to be so good. That’s how good it is. So good.
“I believe, at a very fundamental level, that words are electrical. The generation of words is an expression of electrical energy. The reason storytelling engages us perhaps more fully than other kinds of communication is because the words in a story can mean in different ways. They contain their opposites. In that scene—‘Swearengen!’ ‘Cocksucker!’—we understand how provisional the meaning of a word is and that its fundamental meaning is contingent upon the energy with which it’s endowed by the speaker. Energy is a gossamer and intangible and variable commodity, and words in a story are more clearly contingent and variable than words in a proof. The highest form of storytelling, it seems to me, is mathematics—where literally the signs contain within themselves the most violent and basic form of energy. Einstein understood that if he was able to sign correctly he would experience the secret of energy. He was telling himself a story with those signs, and he said, ‘All I want to understand is the mind of God.’ Now, I don’t want to understand it; I want to testify to it. I believe that we are all literally part of the mind of God and that our sense of ourselves as separate is an illusion. And therefore when we communicate with each other as a function of an exchange of energy we understand not because of the inherent content of the words but because of how that energy flows. So Dority says, ‘I can’t understand you, Wu. Fucking language. I just can’t do it.’ And what he’s saying is ‘I’m trying. I’m trying.’ And then they work something out.”—I know I’m late to the Deadwood game—six years late, I guess—but this 2005 New Yorker profile of the berserk genius David Milch is incredible. Quoted above is his explication of scene that is mostly two dudes yelling “cocksucker!” at each other’s faces.
“The internship, in Perlin’s estimation, functions less as a meaningful learning experience than as a social signal, a faddy buzzword, and the most important weapon in a resumé ‘arms race.’ And fundamentally, poisonously, it devalues work. ‘Once you’ve been told that your work isn’t worth anything,’ Perlin rightly observes, ‘you stop taking pride in it, you stop giving it your best.’”—From Molly Fischer’s great review (read the whole thing—the last lines!) of Ross Perlin’s Intern Nation. Perlin is at the store at 7 to discuss the internship in America.
“Author and publisher Carmen Callil has withdrawn from the judging panel of the Man Booker International prize over its decision to honour Philip Roth with the £60,000 award. Dismissing the Pulitzer prize-winning author, Callil said that ‘he goes on and on and on about the same subject in almost every single book. It’s as though he’s sitting on your face and you can’t breathe.’”—Today in unpleasant things, Philip Roth, sitting on your face. (Via Eric.)
“Readings, discussion & reception with Europa editors; author Michele Zackheim (Broken Colors); translators Alison Anderson (The Elegance of the Hedgehog, A Novel Bookstore) and Ann Goldstein (Days of Abandonment, The Worst Intentions); and special guest Stacy Schiff.”—
““…the idea of going to your desk for existential comfort, or at least some sort of a reason to get up every day, and also a reason for why it’s okay to get up every day or even desirable to get up every day—that idea makes sense to me. And if you could actually communicate that sense to your reader—if your book convinced them somehow, even temporarily, that it’s perhaps overwhelmingly okay to get up every day—that would be, to say the least, pretty neat.””
“From story to story or novel to novel the shapeless, nameless thing that I try to describe will always be there in part somehow, but getting it wrong is part of the deal. And the compensation for getting it wrong is that you get to go work on something else and try again.”—The Paris Review let me interview Chris Adrian, a favorite since The Children’s Hospital blew the top of my head off. He reads here tonight at 7—you can ask him whatever questions I missed.
“In the fall of 1963, in Leningrad, in what was then the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the young poet Dmitry Bobyshev stole the young poet Joseph Brodsky’s girlfriend. This was not cool.”—Keith Gessen on Joseph Brodsky in the New Yorker.
Monday? It’s one of our Conversations on Practice. Rebecca Goldstein is here to talk to Glen Kurtz about 36 Arguments for the Existence of God.
Tuesday? A great night: Chris Adrian reads The Great Night. If you’ve been in the store ever, probably at some point I tried to recommend The Children’s Hospital to you. 400 pages of angels and plagues and dead brothers and occasional sex!—you’ll love it. This new one is so good—it’s a weird retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream—I’ll probably be saying more about it here soon.
More Tuesday? More Tuesday. At Housing Works, we’re helping the redoubtable Europa celebrate its 100th book, Alina Bronsky’s The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine. Helping us: Michele Zackheim (Broken Colors); translators Alison Anderson (The Elegance of the Hedgehog, A Novel Bookstore) and Ann Goldstein (Days of Abandonment, The Worst Intentions); and special guest Stacy Schiff.
Wednesday? The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) is a local non-profit organization that uses design and art to make visible the policy and planning decisions that affect our every day life. CUP works to bring together artists, graphic designers, architects, urban planners along with community-based advocates, government officials, and policymakers. The result is a fascinating diversity of projects and publications that illuminate complex social processes in astoundingly simple and accessible formats. CUP and the Brennan Center for Justice will introduce Know Your Lines, the latest fold-out poster in the Making Policy Public series. The moderated discussion will address the ins and outs of the largely invisible redistricting process, in which politicians often get to choose their voters instead of the other way around; the process of collaboratively developing the hot-off-the-press poster; and the nature of CUP’s diverse publishing projects more generally. Could you tell I copied and pasted that? I did.
Thursday? Interns of the world, unite! Provided we don’t have to pay you or anything. Ha, interns. Ross Perlin will discuss Intern Nation with Verso’s Andrew Hsaio.
“The stuff I’m writing about is so trivial that whether or not I’ve experienced it is no skin of anyone’s back.”—Geoff Dyer, after admitting that one of the anecdotes in Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Etc. was borrowed.
In fiction, the war is between two characters—Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, say—whereas in serious essays, there’s just as much war, as much “conflict,” but it’s within the breast, as it were, of the narrator/speaker/author. The essayist tries to get to everything that Macbeth does; he just locates it all within his own psyche. Every man contains within himself the entire human condition.
”—David Shields, from his piece “Life is Short; Art is Shorter" for the new LA Review of Books. Ah, yes, because fiction has nothing to do with "the world" and nothing to do with the author’s "own psyche." That’s not how fiction works at all.
Tonight? The McSweeney’s launch party explosion of funfestapolooza. Should be great.
Tuesday? More like snoozeday, am I right? Nothing.
Wednesday? Sloane “The Cros-town Bus” Crosley talks to Ed Park “and Recreation”—Crosley got her well-known nickname that I just made up for her because her essays are hilarious & winning, just like the crosstown bus! (In five years here, I have never been on a bus in New York City. Just assuming.) She’s talking to Ed Park because, in Sloane’s origin story, Ed is the radioactive spider.
Thursday? Arthur Philips (or “Arthur Philips”?) is here for The Tragedy of Arthur, which is getting praised all over town, and by “town” I mean the cover of the New York Times Sunday Book Review and praised specifically by Stephen Greenblatt, who is like the Shakespeare of Shakespeare criticism. But really all over the place. And by “place” I mean probably pretty much anywhere that’s running reviews of this book.