I haven’t read the New York Times in a while now. Not since the paywall went up. But yeah, I read that article the other day by Jennifer Medina about college students asking for “trigger warnings” on the books and movies they encounter in class. It’s good that I’m not a professor. I’d get in trouble somehow.
I know about the article because John Landis read it out loud at a PEN Center USA event last Sunday in LA. The event was Forbidden Fruit, PEN’s fundraiser where authors and actors read passages from some of the most banned books of all time. (Lolita, check.) Landis was the emcee. Panio Gianopolous, Maria Bello, Molly Ringwald, Jill Sobule, Frances Fisher, Hill Harper, and others read work from authors like Ken Kesey, Anais Nin, Orwell, Updike, Steinbeck, and Nabokov. All writers whose books might need a trigger warning, I guess.
Mission Creek 2014 and all its Art, Film, Music and Lit is almost upon us with Phillip Glass, Rachel Kushner, The Head and the Heart, Warpaint, Brian Evenson, etc.
And this year HTMLGIANT will be part of the Litcrawl (Friday, April 4th) where Colin Winnette and Grant Maierhofer will read from their work featured on HTMLGIANT as part of an “Electronic Literature” event at The White Rabbit.
(The Iowa Review, Red Hen Press, Hobart, Spork, Black Ocean and others will also be a part of the Lit Crawl.)
…but then got ran over by a bus and died. No im totally kidding! but you really did get the flu and couldn’t join me.
The talk was at Housing Works, and it included two other speakers: David Gordon and Michael Kunichika.Your expectations were unclear: talk about Russian writers who, though they left us long ago, remain potent presences for readers and writers today. From Dostoevsky and Tolstoy to Vasily Grossman and Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, we’ll learn about obsession, madness, realism, fables, and more, in an event with all the drama and pathos (well, at least some of the drama and pathos) of the great Russian novels themselves.
Here are all the texts I would have sent you, in chronological order and without clarifying who said what, because color-coordinating via SMS goes a step too far:
truth-seeking urgency intrinsic in russian lit
antithesis to beckett & writers who focused extensively on beauty of language
falling in love w/ english language, less plot driven urgency
dostoevsky similar to conrad in terms of truth-seeking urgency
multivocality of dostoevsky
there is no right, just different truths
dostoevsky threw the best literary parties (metaphorically speaking, as a creator)
proust s parties were too long, and maybe the guests were wearing better clothes
abstract psychological curiosity in motives, including abnormalities–>russian approach
going in depth for big questions, characters not being introverted
serialization of lengthy works, such as ‘war & peace,’ adds towards creating a broader debate. they become part of the broader debates occurring during their time
some compare the creation of microcosms of russian lit to ‘the wire’
comparing to british office, where they look at the camera at moments of despair but the viewer cannot do anything to help // to embarrasing dostoevsky characters
nabokov disliked dostoevsky for his “bad writing”
dostoevsky had a v diff approach to writing from nabokov: almost got executed literally, then was told he had another five years
that is also why dostoevsky did not pursue inanimate writing, unlike tolstoy (?)
nabokov didn t like music!
neither did dostoevsky !! (probably diff reasons)
saul bellow s ‘dean of december’–>similar urgency in truth-seeking (someone from the audience)
can reading a book be so vivid it appears like a different life?
if yes, it depends on willingness of writers to go to great lengths in creating characters who go too far, embarrass themselves/ are visceral
perhaps a key element that helps bring about the urgent truth-seeking: religion s role for the writers
religion, like their fiction, was trying to explain what goes on beyond the physical
nabokov s direct ancestor was dostoevsky s jailor. weird how he was not willing to cut him any slack, considering
dostoevsky was crowd-pleasing oriented bc he lived off writing
Short notice, but for those of you in Chicago, tomorrow night will see a plum event as the Danny’s Reading Series convenes, 7:30pm sharp at Danny’s in Bucktown (1951 W. Dickens, just off Damen). Reading will be Barry Schwabsky, Mark Yakitch, and the incomparable Virginia Konchan. As always, a DJ and dancing will follow.
today is National Dress up Your Pet Day (ok, sure, come here, doggie)
today is also National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day (yeah, I’m hungry. sure, why not)
and (sigh) today is National Poetry at Work Day (knife in stomach)