I’m giving away five pairs of tickets to the event. To enter, email me at maudnewton [at] gmail [dot] com by noon (Eastern Time) on February 1, with Ã¢â‚¬Å“Abani-Khoury giveawayÃ¢â‚¬Â in the subject line. All entries will be assigned numbers based on the order received, and a randomizer will choose the winners.
Earlier this month, Laila Lalami reviewed Khoury’s Yalo for the LA Times. The novel, she says, “is composed of confessions — whether forced or voluntary, true or laced with self-aggrandizement, redemptive for the confessor or entirely useless.” It “establishes Khoury as the sort of novelist whose name is inseparable from a city. Los Angeles has Joan Didion and Raymond Chandler, and Istanbul, Orhan Pamuk. The beautiful, resilient city of Beirut belongs to Khoury.”
Abani’s Song for Night has garnered widespread praise. “Not since Jerzy Kosinski’s The Painted Bird or Agota Kristof’s Notebook Trilogy has there been such a harrowing novel about what it’s like to be a young person in a war,” Rebecca Brown has said. And in the New York Times Book Review, Maud Casey admires the lyric joy of Song for Night, and says the “density and swiftness of the [novella] form suit AbaniÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s story.”
Marianne Kjos, my beloved high school creative writing teacher, died last Friday after a protracted bout with ovarian cancer. My friend Carrie, another former student, passed on the sad news Tuesday afternoon.
I could rave about Mrs. Kjos as an inspirational figure, about all the things she did that good writing teachers do. She introduced us to Joan Didion. She got us arguing about books. She praised my fiction when I worked on it and criticized it when I slapped something together, and she refrained from calling the police when I wrote a rousing piece about burning down the school.
But more than that, she somehow sensed that things were bad for me — as they say — at home. Mrs. Kjos never pried, never pressed, but, unlike my friends and my boyfriend and my other teachers, she saw through my reserve. She conveyed to me in the least intrusive way possible that she would listen if I wanted to talk. I didn’t want to talk, though, and she accepted that.
[The rest of this post has been redacted.]
As a devout agnostic who’s as turned off by the proselytizing atheism of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, et al. as by my mother’s blaming and weirdly self-congratulatory brand of Evangelical Christianity (think Jesus Camp), I was interested in much of what Peter Bebergal and Scott Korb had to say last summer at Jewcy in “What the Angry Atheists Get Wrong.”
Below Korb, a self-proclaimed Catholic atheist, talks about his Christian-inflected faith in the things of this world. He and Bebergal are touring in support of their new book, The Faith Between Us: A Jew and a Catholic Search for the Meaning of God. You can catch them tomorrow night at Madison’s University Pres House at 7:30, and on Thursday night at Chicago’s Fixx Coffee Bar, also at 7:30 p.m.
Translator Edith Grossman used to like to buy used books, but is wary now because of bed bugs.
Toni Morrison, heralding Obama’s creative imagination & wisdom, endorses the Illinois Senator.
MON Jan 28: “Jeffrey Marsh continues to blur gender-identity lines using dignity and patience with the help of his musical partner Rick Sorkin. Their two man show, described as ‘Late night talk show meets Sonny & Cher meets Kurt Weill,’ blends traditional 20th century French and German cabaret, musical theater selections, pop music deconstruction, comedy, and audience interaction.” Tonight’s show features special guest Clay McLeod Chapman, the most mysteriously underrated writer-performer in New York. At La Mama Experimental Theatre Club. 8PM, $15. Also, Brooklyn Writers Space Reading Series presents Paula Bernstein, Elyse Schein, Edmund Lee and Dominic Preziosi, downstairs at Union Hall. 7PM, FREE. Noted, with fascination: Bernstein and Schein recently co-wrote Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited.
TUE Jan 29: Romania is enjoying a much-deserved cultural moment. Riding the crest of Times’ critic A.O. Scott’s magazine-length feature, “New Wave on the Black Sea,” is Christian Mingiu’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, playing this week at IFC Center.
WED Jan 30: Debut author Toby Barlow reads from Sharp Teeth, which charts the necessarily chaotic events that unfold when “an ancient race of lycanthropes has survived to the present day,” at 192 Books. 7PM, FREE.
THU Jan 31: “Les Figues Press and editors Christine Wertheim & Matias Viegener, to celebrate The noulipian Analects, an alphabetical survey of constrained writing by some of todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most innovative writers. Hosted by: Robert Fitterman With readings by contributors: Christian BÃƒÂ¶k, Vanessa Place, Brian Kim Stefans, Rodrigo Toscano, Matias Viegener, and Christine Wertheim.” Says the press, “We do not see ourselves as gatekeeper, but gate, providing a portal for literature that is difficult, demanding or otherwise unacceptable to an increasingly risk-averse publishing industryÃ¢â‚¬â€literature whose existence is vital for a thriving culture.” Smash your preconceptions at the The Merc. 7PM, FREE.
FRI Feb 1: At Bluestockings, “Join contributors to WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, as they share selections from the new issue, Activisms, exploring ‘how women (and men) struggle individually and collectively for social justice and gender equity, particularly in the global south. This issue includes photo-essays about U.S. and South African performance art, an interview with renowned human rights activist Charlotte Bunch, and a discussion forum on eighteenth-century British feminist and philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft. Articles, fiction, and poetry examine how art, humor, protests, detective novels, and transÃ‚Ânational networks promote progressive agendas.’ This event is also a celebration of the dynamic, vital and innovative publishing of the Feminist Press.” Highly recommended. 7PM, FREE. And, Paragraph hosts an evening with short story writers Matthew Klam and Nam Le, followed by a reception. 8:30PM, FREE.
SAT Feb 2: The sexy-now-that-it’s-sold-out Association of Writers & Writing Program (AWP) Conference will be open to the public on Saturday. Don’t miss your chance to make out with a poet. (Thanks to Richard for the tip!).
SUN Feb 3: Yesterday I stumbled into Bowne & Co. Stationers, a part of the South Street Seaport Museum but also a fully functioning shop, and it’s a bibliophile’s dream. The printer showed me a limited edition letterpress reproduction made for a Dublin artist of a poster advertising the sale of the contents of Oscar Wilde’s home; I also found the perfect Walt Whitman cards, and some others with all manner of literary quotes (Zelda Fitzgerald on love!), Melville poetry, and an exquisite hand-printed book of Emily Dickinson poems that took my breath away.
The debate over a tomb some claim to be Jesus’ was reopened in Jerusalem last week. The tomb itself remains sealed.
The enduring appeal of Robert Burns, on the occasion of his 249th birthday.
I don’t think Frederic Raphael has pinpointed Graham Greene’s motives as fully as he believes he has.
Day two home from work with a killer cold, and my only consolation is novelist Kate Christensen’s hot toddy. Since she passed it along last fall, the drink has eclipsed spicy tomato soup as the Maud household’s preferred remedy. It proves — as we always knew deep in our hearts — that Bourbon cures everything.
Critics assail the transcription of Robert Frost’s notebooks. William Logan calls it a scandal.