Archive for April, 2010

April 30, 2010


Take a gander at Popmatters’ review of SLS friend and special guest Robert Coover’s new crime novel, Noir, wherein the point is made that, unlike certain other A-list authors who have recently dabbled in crime, Coover’s novel is utterly unfilmable–and that’s a good thing.

April 28, 2010


“The Difficulty of Crossing a Field,” the titular opera from SLS Montreal faculty member Mac Wellman’s 2008 collection of plays, recently opened at the University of Texas’ B. Iden Payne Theatre in Austin.  The Austin-American Statesman’s Jeanna Claire van Ryzin was wowed by Wellman’s adaptation of Ambrose Bierce’s 1888 short story, praising it for its enigmatic take on the historical legacy of the American Civil War.  Wellman has received awards and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the New York Foundation for the Arts, and is also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.

April 21, 2010


If you haven’t cruised by Big Think’s website, give it a try.  As you might have put together from their name, they’re dedicated to sharing and discussing of ideas, and have put together quite a panel of thinkers, writers, artists, scientists, and others to discuss whatever happens to be important to those panelists.  SLS Montreal special guest Keith Gessen has his own Big Think page, where you can watch him read from his novel (All the Sad Young Literary Men) or discuss the political role of fiction.  He makes a good case for the humanitarian value of writing, saying, “Fiction still has a real role to play in changing the way that people live,” in its ability to act as something of a mirror for its readers.

April 19, 2010


SLS Montreal special guest Robert Coover wrote prophetically about the future of hypertext and the end of printed books way back in 1992, when the rest of us were still listening to Nirvana and most of us were accessing Prodigy on our dialup connections.  Some of hypertext’s innovations as seen by Coover–the incorporation of statistics charts, song lyrics, newspaper articles, and dictionary entries–have made it into the world of print, and David Foster Wallace would employ almost all of them in Infinite Jest several years later.  Coover ran a hypertext-based writing workshop at Brown back in ’92 and here talks about the good and creative work that came out of that class.  Things have certainly changed since then–Coover’s class was working on Apple 7.0!–but it’s not hard to read his article with contemporary ears.  What he’s calling (and is still called) hypertext, we might simply call the internet.  Indeed, some of the problems Coover presents remain; namely, how to maintain unity, narrative integrity, and voice in an amorphous and community-composed text.  As sampling becomes more accepted by the mainstream, how do these concerns and others affect what we consider art?

With all of the current talk about the possible demise of printed books, it’s interesting to hear a writer as artistically minded as Coover talk about the possibilities inherent in a post-print book world.

(via Understanding Sociology of New Media)

April 16, 2010


Check out this video of SLS Montreal faculty member Martin Espada reading his poem “Who Burns for the Perfection of Paper.” Espada has been called “the Pablo Neruda of North American authors” and recently read a new poem, “Walking,” at the memorial service for firebrand historian Howard Zinn.

April 14, 2010


“Football,” which is here reprinted on’s Page 2 blog, is the centerpiece essay in SLS Montreal faculty member Chuck Klosterman’s most recent book, Eating the Dinosaur.  It’s essential reading for those who think about football in abstract terms (there are more of us than you think), but it’s also worth reading for Klosterman’s reading of football as essentially progressive in its nature, despite the somewhat-conservative nature of its iconography and demographic.  As with most of Klosterman’s essays, the stated subject is only half of the point; it is his paradoxically serious and playful exegesis of why unimportant things are truly on display here.

April 12, 2010


Watch this video of SLS Montreal special guest Gary Shteyngart reading from Nikolai Gogol‘s classic Dead Souls, in both English and the original Russian; Shteyngart’s appearance at New York’s 92nd St Y was in celebration of the Russian writer’s 200th birthday (being Gogol’s 200th, Shteyngart is a relatively springish 37).

(via htmlgiant)

April 8, 2010


New Yorker fiction editor (and SLS Montreal special guest) Deborah Treisman sat down for a Q & A with Joyce Carol Oates upon the New Yorker’s publication of Oates’ “I.D.”  Treisman is an excellent reader, which makes her an excellent interviewer.  Her questions are smart, but always in the direction of a deeper understanding of the story; she never gets bogged down in theoretics or academicism, but concerns herself with the specific contours of the story at hand.  To read (or hear, via the New Yorker’s fiction podcast) her interviews is to see what it looks like to be deeply and properly engaged with a story.

April 6, 2010


SLS Montreal faculty members Elizabeth Bachisnky and Sina Queyras have both been shortlisted for the 2010 Pat Lowther Award for Poetry.  The Award is given annually to a female poet for a collection published in the previous year.  Deanne Beattie of the Vancouver Review called Bachinsky’s God of Missed Connections “a formidable work from this young poet: a considered and important contribution to the quintessential dialogue on Canada’s fractured collective history,” while Xtra! says in a review of Queyras’s Expressway, “[she] writes circles around her contemporaries.” Queyras has previously won the Lowther Award, for 2007’s Lemon Hound.

(via Books Under Skin)

April 1, 2010


SLS Montreal special guest Christopher Sorrentino writes in the L.A. Times about the process of revising his father Gilbert’s posthumous novel, The Abyss of Human Illusion.  Along the way, he discusses questions of ethics (“Does an author’s estate owe posterity what the author might deny it?”) and makes a provocative and convincing case for his having edited his father’s “finished” book.