GIANT EXCERPT: “There’s a Road to Everywhere Except for Where You Came From” by Bryan Charles

[FYI: I know it’s Mean Week, but here’s something not mean. Bryan Charles’s memoir will be published by Open City Books in November. New York folks, Charles reads with Ed Park at the KGB Bar on Wednesday, 10/27. – JT]

I received a box of business cards that said BRYAN A. CHARLES, STAFF WRITER. I sent one to my mother and she was delighted. I started reading the Wall Street Journal and various financial websites, learning the biz. I made sure Clara saw the Journal open on my desk every morning. Occasionally if I felt comfortable I’d mention an article or some topic of interest to the markets generally. I ran drafts of my “Thinking Primarily About Mutual Funds” piece by Peter, the senior writer. He was in his early thirties, had been at the game a while, and had a great gift. Peter could open his mouth and speak fully formed marketing sentences. But there was an irony in his manner that subtly conveyed the absurdity of our task. Peter taught me that financial services involved pushing and repackaging and reselling the same few concepts: diversification, buying a new home, saving for your children’s college education or your own retirement. But the bedrock tenets of financial marketing were stressing the importance of taking a long-term view and encouraging investors to consult financial advisors.

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David Berman and Epistemological Closure in the Propaganda State

"There is no leisure with dignity in an unfinished world." – DCB, at NYU Writers House, 7/25/10

by Jeremy Schmall

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David Berman’s life has been one of failure and refusal. At least, that’s what he said at the very rare talk he gave at NYU on July 25th, the concluding event of the inaugural Open City Summer Writing Workshop. Although the idea of Berman being a failure was news to me—I am an enormous fan of his book of poems (Actual Air) and his former band (Silver Jews)—he does have a point. He didn’t follow up his book with another book, he refused to tour with his band for years, and when he finally capitulated, and the touring started to eke out money and win over a committed fan base, he quit music to fail at writing a memoir, and then nearly created a TV show based on his life, but walked away when he realized what that would look like. But both writing and music are behind him now. What he’s after instead—and which he communicated through a wide-ranging, associative, often sublime speech marked by long, meditative silences—focuses on his father, Richard Berman, a high-paid PR man who creates and disseminates misinformation on behalf of corporate giants. His work effects the choices we all make everyday.

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New York Area Alert: David Berman–get him while he lasts

Here’s a big ole FYI for y’all. There’s not a thing in this world that would keep me from this event, save for the fact of my being on the other side of said world until mid-August. Take it away, Joanna Yas of Open City:

David Berman will be making a very rare appearance in New York on Sunday,  July 25, 6pm, for a reading and discussion at the NYU Lillian  Vernon Creative Writers House, 58 West 10th Street (btw 5th &  6th).

This event  is part of the the Open City Summer Writing Workshop, but we have a very  limited number of seats available for the public for $15.

Tickets are available here (tickets will not be sold at the door)
http://www.opencity.org/ocsummerberman.html

Let’s Get That City Good and Opened

Three pieces of news from our friends at the other O.C (above, not left).

First, from the Department of How Time Flies- has it really been a year since the last Open City benefit? Well, judging by the fact that the linked-to post is from exactly a year ago tomorrow, I would say “yes.” Last year’s event, at the National Arts Club, featured (among other things) an open bar and a reading by Billy Collins–the two went very well together. This year the benefit is being held in a private residence (wanna bet it’s a nice one?), and will feature a reading by Walter Kirn, author most recently of Up in the Air, which you might remember that Hollywood liked so much they Clooneyed it. (Aside: anyone other than me remember (read= “love”) Kirn’s first book, My Hard Bargain, a taut, brutal little collection of stories edited by some guy named Gordon Lish?) Anyway, it ought to be clear to you by this point that whether it is publishing books and the magazine, or whether it’s fund-raising, the one thing Open City does not do is screw around. These guys define what it means to be indie without being small-time, by which I mean to simply say that I think they are great, but the casual reader may wish to steel her reserve before clicking through to check out all the details and price tickets. If it’s a bit out of your range (dollars-wise or distance-wise), no shame in treating yourself to a shiny new subscription, and/or a couple of books, and calling it a day.

Second, from the Department of Education. The First Annual Open City Summer Writing Workshop will be held at the NYU Writers House over a long weekend in high July. The core faculty is Thomas Beller, Jason Brown, Martha McPhee and Said Sayrafiezadeh. Visiting writers include Mary Gaitskill, Sam Lipsyte, Edmund White, David Goodwillie, and the great David Berman–plus a whole lot more; interested parties should avail themselves of the full details, which live here. Good times!

Last but not least, the 2010 RRofihe Trophy is currently accepting submissions, and will be through October 15. At first I thought (read=”hoped”) that this somehow had something to do with Katie Roiphe, but it turns out to really about short fiction, which is pretty good, too. It’s a contest, to be judged by Rick Rofihe of anderbo.com, and the winner gets $500, an actual trophy, and publication in Open City.

And that’s pretty much everything I can possibly tell you about Open City, short of the colors of their underwears. Reader–would that I could.

Will the Open City benefit look like the above? Mischa Barton wonders, but is sad because she knows that she will probably never find out.

NYers: Open City 28 Party

Yet another reason to be in NYC: next Tuesday’s Open City party, in celebration of their new issue (open bar and a copy with $10 entry), not to mention Sam Lipsyte’s new novel The Ask (also holiday-purchase worthy), and don’t forget their newest book, Rachel Sherman’s Living Room!

31Please join editors Thomas Beller and Joanna Yas for the 2009 Holiday Party to celebrate the launch of Open City #28

Featuring short readings by Jonathan Dee and Sam Lipsyte Tuesday, December 15, 7-9 p.m. (readings will begin at 8 p.m.) The Hi-Fi Bar, 169 Avenue A (between 10th & 11th), NYC $10 Admission (includes a copy of the magazine and open bar) Open City #28 features: Sophie Cabot Black, Jonathan Dee, Louis B. Jones, Gary Lippman, Sam Lipsyte, Miranda Lichtenstein (cover), Sarah Malone, Leslie Maslow, Michael McGrath, Ben Nachumi, Kevin Oberlin, Adam Peterson, James Schuyler, Dan Sofaer, Christopher Sorrentino, and Laurie Stone.

Mark your calendar!

Open City Benefit at the National Arts Club this Thursday

Ever since they debuted with an issue that featured Hubert Selby Jr. and Mary Gaitskill, plus art by Jeff Koons, Open City has been one of the best literary magazines around. And since 1999 Open City has also been publishing books, including David Berman’s Actual Air, Sam Lipsyte’s Venus Drive, Rachel Sherman’s The First Hurt, and Edward St. Aubyn’s Mother’s Milk, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize and named a New York Times notable book in 2005. Open City is either about as cool as prestigious things get or as prestigious as cool things get. I’m not sure which, but I guess it doesn’t matter. The point is, they’re awesome–but for how much longer? The thing about Awesome, see, is that she’s always hungry, and so Open City is holding a benefit to raise some much-needed scratch so that Awesome can eat during the next fiscal year.
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