Thursday, October 27, 2011

Colson Whitehead, Best Literary Twitter Account

In December 2010, the annual Village Voice Web Awards honored Colson Whitehead, who visits Tuesday 11/1, with the distinction of "Best Literary Twitter Account":

"Writers tend to use Twitter for self-promotion. Colson Whitehead uses it to express self-loathing. There are his failures as a parent ("The kid, as she repeatedly drives my fist into my face: 'Why are you punching yourself?' Me: 'I want to feel something' "). There are his struggles with depression ("Oh, look: my despair is crowning. So glad I'm here. To think they used to stand outside in the waiting room with cigars")...." More.

Whitehead established himself as a hip critic of popular media (TV, music, etc.) in the Voice before he turned his energies and talents to fiction.

To celebrate the publication of Zone One, the Voice is currently paying tribute with some excerpts from Whitehead's music reviews on the paper's blog.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Inspired by Horror Movies

Colson Whitehead, who visits the Writers Institute on November 1st to talk about his new zombie horror novel, Zone One, participated in a lengthy interview that appeared in last week's issue of The Atlantic.

Asked about the distinction between literary and horror fiction, Whitehead says:

"I was inspired to become a writer by horror movies and science fiction. The fantastic effects of magic realism, Garcia Marquez, the crazy, absurd landscapes of Beckett—to me, they're just variations on the fantasy books I grew up on. Waiting for Godot takes place on a weird asteroid heading towards the sun, that's how I see it. It's not a real place—it's a fantastic place. So what makes it different from a small planet in outer space? What makes it different from a post-apocalyptic landscape? Not much in my mind." More.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

A Poem About Dyslexia

Pulitzer Prize winning poet Philip Schultz, author of a new memoir about his own dyslexia, will visit the Writers Institute tomorrow, Tuesday, October 25, 2011.

Jeffrey Brown interviewed Schultz about the memoir, My Dyslexia (2011), on the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer earlier this month. Schultz also presented a new poem inspired by his dyslexia:

"They could say what they liked, imitate the way I stuttered the morning pledge mashed the alphabet, ask how many chickens one plus three made, why my brain sat in the corner in a class of one, refused to read or write, was nailed to my tongue, just as long as they understand that some with my fist would be kissed, yanked off bikes by their hair, their eyeballs, thumbs scrubbed, faces autographed by sidewalks, that under no circumstance would they ever make me cry." More.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Farted in Yoga: Wayne Koestenbaum

Wayne Koestenbaum, who visits the Writers Institute this Thursday, October 20, appears in a series of funny videos to promote his new book, Humiliation (2011).

The New York Observer has called the "Dear Wayne" series, produced by literary publisher Picador USA, “the mother of all book trailers.”

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Shame on Us

In anticipation of Wayne Koestenbaum's visit to Albany on Thursday, October 20, Joseph Dalton of the Times Union reviews Koestenbaum's new book, Humiliation (2011), a philosophical exploration of personal embarrassment:

"I don't embarrass easily," says author Wayne Koestenbaum "That's because I'm used to gay culture's flamboyant embrace of embarrassing positions."

Perhaps it's that bravery, that hold-your-chin-up attitude, that allows Koestenbaum the courage to delve so deeply into the shame, guilt and suffering of others. Read more.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Corruption on the Hudson

Sam Sacks gives a strong review of Chango's Beads in the Wall Street Journal:

Usually when a writer approaches the end of his career, a consensus forms around what should be considered his best work. But in the case of William Kennedy's nine novels, each has its own champions.

Now, at age 83, Mr. Kennedy has published the jazzy "Chang√≥'s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes," which blends historical upheaval—the Cuban Revolution and American race riots—and family strife. More.

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Not a Book a Young Man Could Write

Here's the review by acclaimed filmmaker John Sayles of William Kennedy's new novel that appeared last Sunday on the front page of the New York Times Book Review:

"William Kennedy’s new novel, “Chang√≥’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes,” is his most musical work of fiction: a polyrhythmic contemplation of time and its effects on passion set in three different eras, a jazz piece unafraid to luxuriate in its roots as blues or popular ballad or to spin out into less melodic territory....

"This is not a book a young man would or could write. There is the sense here of somebody who has seen and considered much, without letting his inner fire cool." More.

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