Tag Archives: literature

“Airship” for literature

Czech center builds giant ‘airship’ for literature


 Leos Valka, a co-creator, sits on a rooftop overlooking a giant object resembling a zeppelin airship at an arts center in Prague, Czech Republic. The 42-meter long and 10-meter wide ship is planned to seat some 120 people on its cascade steps. It will be used for authors' reading and debates about literature to complement exhibitions at the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, one of the most innovative and challenging galleries in the Czech capital. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Leos Valka, a co-creator, sits on a rooftop overlooking a giant object resembling a zeppelin airship at an arts center in Prague, Czech Republic. The 42-meter long and 10-meter wide ship is planned to seat some 120 people on its cascade steps. It will be used for authors’ reading and debates about literature to complement exhibitions at the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, one of the most innovative and challenging galleries in the Czech capital. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

By Karel Janicek, The Associated Press

PRAGUE (AP) – Is that a zeppelin on the roof?

The huge object appears to have landed on the roof of the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in the Czech capital.

The wooden and metal structure, envisioned as a home for literature, is another project of the center known for its challenging exhibitions and installations.

The center’s founder and director, Leos Valka, joined forces with architect Martin Rajnis, who won the 2014 Global Award for Sustainable Architecture, to give the gallery another dimension.

“Our aim for the world of contemporary art is to spread and get partially interconnected with the world of literature,” Valka said at a preview this week.

The 42-meter (138-feet) long and 10-meter (33-feet) wide ship is planned to seat 120 people on its cascade steps inside for authors’ readings, performances, workshops and public debates to complement the exhibitions.

That’s all to be in line with the gallery’s mission “to create a space for research, presentation, and debate on important social issues, where visual arts, literature, performing arts, and other disciplines encourage a critical view of the so-called reality of today’s world.”

Numerous obstacles had to be overcome to get approval from authorities for the 55-metric-ton (60-ton) project.

The ship was finally qualified as a “watchtower” – a bit of absurdity which Prague native Franz Kafka might have appreciated.

The airship is named Gulliver, the hero of Jonathan Swift’s classic, who visited a flying island of Laputa during his adventurous travels.

“It’s a world of pure imagination,” Valka said about the project. “A children’s world.”

“You should get an impression that some 10-12-years-old boys escaped from the houses of parents to board their makeshift aircraft and by accident crash-landed in Holesovice,” the Prague district where the center is located.

“It’s an elegant intruder,” Valka said. “It’s a concrete, fully authentic, giant object whose message is that things can be done differently.”

The literature space is scheduled to open in late November or early December.

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Saying goodbye to literary history

Bradbury home during demolition.  Photo by John King Tarpinian of file770.com.

Bradbury home during demolition. Photo by John King Tarpinian of file770.com.

What costs $1.76 million to buy and then gets torn down? What unassuming, even “ordinary” place was the 50-year home to a literary light of the 20th century? Somebody who has probably been read by school children for many years?

Answer: the what-is-now-former home of Ray Bradbury. Bradbury, author of novels such as Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, and Dandelion Wine to name just a few, died in 2012. His home in Cheviot Hills, Los Angeles, CA, was put on the market and was recently purchased by an architect, who then razed it to make way from the architect’s home.

Details at http://www.latimes.com/la-me-before-after-ray-bradbury-house-20150116-photogallery.html, http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-et-jc-ray-bradbury-house-being-torn-down-20150113-story.html, and http://file770.com/?p=20397?michpun.

The architect, Thom Mayne, explains why he did it. His answers are at: http://www.mhpbooks.com/why-was-ray-bradburys-home-demolished-an-interview-with-architect-thom-mayne/

He says he had been looking for the right property in the Cheviot Hills neighborhood for five years when the Bradbury house came up for sale. At first, he said he and his wife were unaware of Bradbury’s connection to the house. He also said he was surprised by the lack of historical interest in the house.

Still, as a person who lives in a house over 110 years old and as a person who considers himself a writer, I find it surprising and saddening that this would happen. And all for the asking price of $1.76 million. I guess in LA that’s just the price of doing business.

Or as Sam Weller, author of Bradbury’s authorized biography, The Bradbury Chronicles, put it:

“I suspected it might be a teardown. Other houses in Ray’s longtime neighborhood of Cheviot Hills had been demolished. A few years ago, the house next door to the Bradbury residence was knocked down to make-way for a super-sized monstrosity. Much of the neighborhood is under siege by mansionization. Ray and his wife Maggie couldn’t understand why people didn’t respect the historical value of their sweeping old Los Angeles neighborhood. So I suspected this fate could well come to the Bradbury house, but I held out hope that its significance to imaginative literature might save it from the developers.”

More at http://www.mhpbooks.com/there-are-so-many-memories-an-interview-with-sam-weller-bradburys-authorized-biographer-about-the-authors-now-demolished-home/

–Compiled by David E. Booker. Opinions expressed are my own.

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17 Brilliant Short Novels You Can Read in a Sitting

17 Brilliant Short Novels You Can Read in a Sitting | Electric Literature.

This week author Ian McEwan expressed his love of short novels, saying “very few [long] novels earn their length.” Certainly it seems like a novel has to be a minimum of 500 pages to win a major literary award these days, and many genre novels have ballooned to absurd sizes.

Child of God

Child of God

I love a good tome, but like McEwan many of my favorite novels are sharpened little gems. It’s immensely satisfying to finish a book in a single day, so in the spirit of celebrating quick reads here are some of my favorite short novels. I’ve tried to avoid the most obvious titles that are regularly assigned in school (The Stranger, Heart of Darkness, Mrs Dalloway, Of Mice and Men, Frankenstein, The Crying of Lot 49, etc.). Hopefully you’ll find some titles here you haven’t read before.

The rest of the article at: http://electricliterature.com/17-brilliant-short-novels-you-can-read-in-a-sitting/

Some of these brilliant short novels include Child of God by Cormac McCarthy, The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin and The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien.

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Bill Murray Gives a Delightful Dramatic Reading of Twain’s Huckleberry Finn (1996) | Open Culture

Bill Murray Gives a Delightful Dramatic Reading of Twain’s Huckleberry Finn (1996) | Open Culture.

Mark Twain

Mark Twain

George Barnard Shaw once called Mark Twain “the American Voltaire,” and like the inspired French satirist, Twain seems to have something to say to every age, from his own to ours. But if Twain is Voltaire, to whom do we compare Bill Murray? Only posterity can properly assess Murray’s considerable impact on our culture, but his current role as everyone’s favorite pleasant surprise will surely figure largely in his historical portrait. Of Murray’s many random acts of kindness—which include “popping in on random karaoke nights, or doing dishes at other people’s house parties, or crashing wedding photo shoots”—he has also taken to surprising us with readings from American literary greats: from Cole Porter, to Wallace Stevens, to Emily Dickinson.

Just above see Murray read an excerpt from American great Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Murray’s appearance at the 1996 Barnes & Noble event apparently came as a surprise to the audience—and to himself. The excerpt he reads might also surprise many readers of Twain’s classic, who probably won’t find it in their copies of the novel. These passages were originally published in Life on the Mississippi but reinserted—“correctly, I guess,” Murray shrugs—into Huck Finn in Random House’s 1996 republication of the novel, marketed as “the only comprehensive edition.” (Read a publication history and summary of the changes in this brief, unsympathetic review of the re-edited text.)

1996 was an interesting year for Twain’s novel. Long at the center of debates over racial sensitivity in public education, and banned many times over, the book figured prominently that year in a tense but fruitful meeting between parents and teachers in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. These discussions produced a new curricular approach that PBS outlines in its teaching guide “Huck Finn in Context,” which offers a variety of responses to the thorny pedagogy of “the ‘n’ word,” racial stereotyping, and reading satire. Beyond the issue of derogatory language, there also arose that year a pugnacious challenge to the book’s place in the American literary canon from novelist Jane Smiley. Smiley’s polemic prompted a lengthy rebuttal in The New York Times from Twain scholar Justin Kaplan.

More at: http://www.openculture.com/2014/09/bill-murray-gives-a-delightful-dramatic-reading-of-twains-huck-finn.html

[Editor’s note: the over hour-long video contains much more than Murray’s reading and is worth watching for its own merits and authors on the panel.]

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22 Books You Pretend You’ve Read But Actually Haven’t

22 Books You Pretend You've Read But Actually Haven't.

Most people lie and say they’ve read these classic books to seem smarter, according to a survey in The Guardian. Chances are, you’re one of those people too.

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Trivia Question: “Literature”

Answer to yesterday trivia question was Germany.

Answer will be posted on Tuesday.

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Reading Literature Makes Us Smarter and Nicer | TIME.com

Reading Literature Makes Us Smarter and Nicer | TIME.com.

Deep reading.

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Writing tip Wednesday: “New Millennium Writings”

New Millennium Writings

New Millennium Writings

New Millennium Writings is now accepting submissions for its Thirty-sixth Consecutive Awards for Fiction, Poetry, and Nonfiction. Writing competition winners will be published in NMW and on this website. Current contest deadline is midnight June. 17.

$4,000 offered in Literary Grants and Awards, Plus Publication
$1,000 for best Poem
$1,000 for best Fiction
$1,000 for best Nonfiction (Nonfiction includes humor, memoir, creative nonfiction, travel, opinion, essay, interview, features, investigative reporting, etc.)
$1,000 for best Short-short Fiction

Visit www.newmillenniumwritings.com for user-friendly guidelines and much more, or jump straight to www.writingawards.com and employ our simple submissions process.

To apply online, follow these guidelines

1. No restrictions as to style, content or number of submissions. Enter as often as you like.

2. Winners announced beginning in September. All contestants will receive our high-quality 2014 anthology.

3. Send between now and June 17, 2013, Midnight, all U.S. time zones.

4. Simultaneous & multiple submissions welcome. Previously published material welcome if under 5,000-circulation or if previously published online only.

5. Each fiction or nonfiction piece is counted as a separate entry, and should total no more than 6,000 words except Short-Short Fiction (no more than 1,000 words).

6. Each poetry entry may include up to three poems, not to exceed five pages total per entry. All poetry Honorable Mentions will be published.

7. Save cover sheet or letter with the submission you’ll be uploading and send as one file. Should you forget to include such covers, however, it’s OK, as contact information is automatically forwarded to us when you pay online.

8. Payment is $20 per submission in order to cover our many expenses and reserve your book. Payment will be by credit card or echeck through PayPal

9. Each entry must be in a separate file (up to 3 poems in one file (See #6)). Many file formats are accepted.

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Writing tip Wednesday: “Southern Lit Alliance”

April 18 - 20, 2013

April 18 – 20, 2013

Basic information:
Southern Lit Alliance
3069 Broad St., Ste. 2,
Chattanooga, TN 37408
web: www.SouthernLitAlliance.org
Phone: 800-267-4232 or 423-267-1218
Thursday, April 18 – Saturday, April 20, 2013
Celebration of Southern Literature

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Serendipity comes to an end

rosster on cage

The rooster atop the birdcage. Through the window are books offered for sale.

By David E. Booker

I have worked at a struggling independent bookstore. I used to joke that I couldn’t hang out in bars, so I hung out in bookstores instead. Truth is, I probably wouldn’t be hanging around bars anyway. They never held much attraction for me.

But a neighborhood bookstore in a former bar, and on top of that a bar that has a reference in literature? Sometimes more serendipitous things have happened, but for slightly over two years Central Street Bookstore was just such a place. Housed in what was formerly the Corner Lounge, the same Corner Lounge referenced in Cormac McCathy’s novel Suttree, it was a place where you could find a good used or rare book as well as stand at the bar that may have been around when Cormac McCarthy lived in Knoxville.

You could also find interesting curiosities such as an orrery, a smiling Buddha with red nipples, a limber-headed statue of Edgar Alan Poe, and a rooster sitting atop a birdcage housing lights. It was a place, as owner John Coleman said, “where people can still make serendipitous discoveries,” be those discoveries novels by authors you knew or didn’t know (including Suttree and other books by McCarthy), books of poetry, history books, and copies of books you might not find anywhere else, including comic books and even the occasional book on tape. I found and bought probably way too many books there for myself and friends, including some this past Christmas.

Books on shelves

Some of the books for sale at Central Street Books.

Unfortunately, that will all end this March 2013, when Central Street Books closes its doors. John says the store is too small to be profitable, and that at least for the moment, he’ll concentrate on his Internet book selling and traveling to sell at book fairs. He will also have some books at a local antique mall. The struggling independent bookstore I worked at over 15 years ago is also closed. Has been for many years. The building is now home to an Oriental restaurant.

It was a serendipitous that this bookstore showed up in my neighborhood, even if for only two years. I’m just not sure where my next serendipitous finds will be found.

Book sign

Books and more.

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