Monday, March 28, 2011

Barbara Browning Upstairs

Barbara Browning read from The Correspondence Artist last Thursday with musician Keren Ann as part of their 'Upstairs at the Square' series with host Katherine Lanpher. The good folks at B&N captured the event on video, which is now posted on their website for your viewing pleasure.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thought: Religion Extinction

From 'Organized religion 'will be driven toward extinction' in 9 countries, experts predict' by Richard Allen Greene, CNN:

"Organized religion will all but vanish eventually from nine Western-style democracies, a team of mathematicians predict in a new paper based on census data stretching back 100 years.

"It won't die out completely, but "religion will be driven toward extinction" in countries including Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands, they say.

"It will also wither away in Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland and Switzerland, they anticipate."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Galleys of Joshua Mohr's Damascus

We're about to have back in hand the galleys of Joshua Mohr's forthcoming third novel, Damascus (out October 2011).

"Mohr is the bard of the underbelly, and the Mission District is his playground. Part Harry Crews, part Charles Bukowski, and part Franz Kafka, Mohr will make you squirm, laugh, recognize, and take pause. Behind his wayward and dissolute characters, burns the clear-eyed moral vision of a very unique artist."
-Jonathan Evison

"We're in the belly of the whale, man. We've been swallowed whole."

"It's 2003 and the country is divided evenly for and against the Iraq War. Damascus, a dive bar in San Francisco's Mission District, becomes the unlikely setting for a showdown between the opposing sides.

Tensions come to a boil when Owen, the bar's proprietor who has recently taken to wearing a Santa suit full-time, agrees to host an art show by an ambitious artist longing to take her act to the high-wire by nailing live fish to the walls as a political statement.

An incredibly creative and fully-rendered cast of characters orbit the bar. There's No Eyebrows, a cancer patient who has come to the Mission to die anonymously; Shambles, the patron saint of the hand job; Revv, a lead-singer who acts too much like a lead-singer.

By gracefully tackling such complicated topics as cancer, Iraq, and issues of self-esteem, Joshua Mohr has painted his most accomplished novel yet.

Parties interested in receiving a copy for review or perusal, write to Brian Obenauf at brian[at]

Support Philoctetes

Letter from co-directors of The Philoctetes Center, Francis Levy (author of Erotomania: A Romance and forthcoming Seven Days in Rio) and Edward Nersesian, M.D.:

Dear Friends,

We are always happy to share a few highlights from our current season of programs. Unfortunately, at this time, we have to leaven our good news with some bad news.

First, the good news. The Philoctetes Center's 2011 programs are off to a great start. The January 29 roundtable “The Nature of Reality,” moderated by Deepak Chopra, attracted a standing-room-only audience, many of whom returned for the subsequent roundtables in our “Big Questions” series—“The Limitations of Mental and Physical Reality” and “Theories of Everything.” In fact, turnout for our events has never been greater, and archival videos on our YouTube channel regularly attract thousands of online viewers.

Our poetry and music series continue to showcase the peerless talents of artists and scholars like Jane Ira Bloom, Lewis Porter, and Heather Dubrow, who have organized and hosted events featuring the likes of Marilyn Nelson, Jonathan Culler, Min Xiao-Fen, and Ken Wessel. And our activities have been recognized with renewed support from the New York State Council on the Arts, The New York Department of Cultural Affairs, The Axe-Houghton Foundation, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, The Elsie Wunsch Trust, The Lindemann Abend Foundation, and Bloomberg, along with new grants and contributions from The New York Council for the Humanities, The Educational Foundation of America, Anthony Low-Beer, and, most importantly, supporters like you.

The bad news is that these funds only cover a portion of our roughly $200,000 annual budget, which has been streamlined to cover our most basic expenses: rent; utilities; salaries for our small, hardworking staff; and videography expenses (so that we can continue to share our events with an international online audience). As it stands, we currently have funds to get us through the next two months of programming. After that, we truly don’t know how we are going to continue providing what we believe is an important public service—enriching, one-of-a-kind programs that are free and open to the public.

Now more than ever, we rely on contributions from the people who enjoy our programs. Please consider supporting the Philoctetes Center with a contribution. You can access our Support page here and make a contribution by check or credit card.

Support Philoctetes


Francis Levy & Edward Nersessian, M.D.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Perverted Hobo, by Trinie Dalton

Word Bookstore selected The Correspondence Artist by Barbara Browning as their Word-to-Your-Mailbox pick for February. We gave them a chapbook of a story from Trinie Dalton's forthcoming collection, Baby Geisha (January 2012), to include in their subscriber mailing. It's called 'The Perverted Hobo,' and is about Eugene, Eugene Sr, and Eugene's husky named Bob.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Barbara Browning + Keren Ann

Hot Shit: This Thursday, be sure to stop in and stake out a seat at Barnes & Noble's 'Upstairs at the Square' series, which will feature Barbara Browning and Keren Ann, hosted by Katherine Lanpher.

Barbara will be reading from The Correspondence Artist while Keren Ann will perform songs from her new album, 101.

'Upstairs at the Square' will take place at the Union Square Barnes & Noble (also known as Francis Levy's Barnes & Noble) on March 24 at 7pm.

This event promises to be super-fantastic. We hope to see you there!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thought: Bookstores

"As paper books become a niche product, niche retailers will be the best place to buy and sell them. Book lovers will always want a place to gather and hear recommendations from a bookseller who knows their reading habits, and their community. . . we may have to go back to shopping for books in stores that let dogs wander through the stacks, and don't even serve coffee."
-Edward McClelland, 'How Borders Lost Its Soul,'

While McClelland's piece very much looks back, Jack McKeown and Don Linn look forward at the "supply gap" resulting from the Borders closures in an essay at InVerso. They propose the development of a Neighborhood Bookstore Development Bank, "modeled after a similar initiative that has worked successfully for independent grocery stores. Its mission would be to spearhead the deployment of capital to a new generation of bookstore entrepreneurs, as well as existing booksellers looking to branch out or upgrade their spaces."

From a 2009 piece by Jack McKeown: "A thriving neighborhood bookstore is recognized as a key element in the social, cultural and economic fabric of any community. This is an opinion widely shared by urban planners, government planning boards, Smart Growth advocates, landlords and real estate developers around the country."

I went to see Andre Schiffrin speak at The New School last fall as part of a series of discussions sponsored by n+1. He shared the view of McKeown and Linn, asking the audience if they needed a Duane Reade on every corner, and said, "It's a question of preserving urban civilization."

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Slow Fade

Drag City has just released an audiobook of Will Oldham with D.V. DeVincentis reading Rudy Wurlitzer's Slow Fade, which you can download as an mp3 or a 5-disc set.

Per the site: “The story alternates between [Wesley] Hardin in Santa Fe, Mexico, and New York — shooting a last-stand Western until the producer blows the whistle and shuts off the funds, generating a cinéma vérité chronicle of his own life — and A.D. and Walker writing their script on the road, so that each movement in the present is complemented by an additional piece of the past uncovered. Apart from generating a respectable amount of plot suspense, this narrative counterpoint allows Wurlitzer to pursue a satirical bent as he charts both fantasy trips, which becomes a contrast between the spiritual excesses of two generations: Yosemite Sam and Mr. Natural, each on a suicide mission.” — Jonathan Rosenbaum

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Book: House of Leaves

This book provided an incredible experience. I took my time with it, maybe finishing it in three months or so. It reminded me in the basic skeletal premise to another book I loved, Jonathan Lethem's As She Climbed Across the Table, but much much darker and taken in an entirely different direction. House of Leaves is engrossing, substantial, and proves yet again the value of book as object.

Thought(s): Francis Levy

Francis Levy, author of Erotomania: A Romance and the forthcoming Seven Days in Rio has a parody of The New York Times' 'Corrections Column' in The East Hampton Star. Here are some favorites:

"In a front-page story our country was mistakenly identified as United States of America. The correct name is The United States of America."

"In Tuesday’s article about the budget, several erroneous statements were made. Offering Social Security benefits only to those in the highest income brackets in order to stimulate investment while eliminating Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements is not part of the current plan to reduce the trillion-dollar deficit."

"In Tuesday’s edition of Science Times, it was reported that the Large Hadron Collider, the most powerful particle accelerator in the world, could create a black hole, which would swallow up the universe. This report was based on rumors among a poll of college art majors and has not been substantiated by particle physicists who have studied the project."

"The Times reported on Thursday that Congress was increasing N.E.A. funding tenfold to bring American arts funding up to the level of France and England. The sentence in question should have read: “Congress has approved a 10 basis points or one-tenth of one-percent increase in arts funding.”"

Friday, March 04, 2011

New Literature Wilderness Exploration Group

Spend an evening with two fiction authors whose new books you should know about! Grace Krilanovich and Jarret Middleton (An Dantomine Eerly) will read from their debut novels, and talk with the audience about the future of fiction, getting published on an indie press, death, food, the woods, and more! Enjoy bizarre book-themed gift-basket raffle, booze, and more talk and fun carried on to a nearby bar after the event.

March 11th: The Waypost, Portland, OR - 7pm
March 12th: Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA - 7pm
March 26th: Stories Bookstore, Los Angeles, CA - 6pm

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Trinie Dalton Live

Trinie Dalton, author of the forthcoming Baby Geisha (1/12), will be reading Friday, March 4th @ 7:30pm in Los Angeles @ Pepin Moore in Chinatown with Sarah Manguso, author of The Two Kinds of Decay.

Pepin Moore (the old China Art Objects)
933 Chung King Road
LA 90012
7:30pm, Fri. March 4th

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Here or There, by Jay Neugeboren

'Here or There' is a story from the forthcoming (May 2011) collection, You Are My Heart and Other Stories, by Jay Neugeboren.

'Here or There' was originally published in Columbia Magazine.