Archive for September, 2003
Apologies for my lateness in noting this, but there’s reading tomorrow night at Danny’s Tavern featuring poets Marvin Bell and Anthony McCann. Bell is Iowa’s poet laureate and long an important figure on the Midwest literary landscape. McCann is an Iowa workshop grad whose poetry I don’t know, but am looking forward to hearing. The current Danny’s schedule is here.
Single-event tickets go on sale today to the general public for the Chicago Humanities Festival. This is probably the largest literary event of the year in Chicago (though not only literary), and my personal favorite. Some of the events of literary interest this year are:
Cross-Cultural Literary Panel
Krapp’s Last Tape
And these are only the obvious ones that I could pick out in the ten spare minutes I have this morning. My own experience is that the best events are some of the more obscure ones ï¿½ so spend some time with the schedule ï¿½ you won’t regret it.
It’s just way-hey-hey-hey too difficult to track all the literary events come fall. It’s just an embarrassment of riches. Then comes the new year and we’re skint, as one of James Kelman’s heroes would say.
Anyway, I just added two events I somehow missed: Annie Proulx (Sept 16) and Jhumpa Lahiri (Sept 25) at Harold Wash. Details here.
You know, I’m second to no man in my love for the Chicago Public Library, but would it kill them to add a link for “future events” to their site? Don’t they understand that people might want to plan ahead a bit? I can’t speak for you, but I don’t wait til October 1st to start making my October plans. Kelman has a word for this kind of situation, if I could only call it to mind . . .
The Northwestern University English Department continues to work its vig’rous remedy on the feeble body of university-sponsored literary events in Chicago. I love the “Great Authors on Great Books” seriesÂ - a neat idea. This year’s event features Dave Eggers talking about Mark Twain, which I’d love to see.
However, just to end on the same Johnsonian note I began with (you didn’t notice?), I might add that the title of the series, at least in this case, reminds me of Dr. Johnson’s advice to Boswell when the latter, in his usual enthusiasm, called some modest thing “great”:
Do not accustom yourself to use big words for little matters.
Is it me, or is this the only thing released so far on next month’s Chicago Book Festival? There must be more. When I find it, I’ll post it.
ADDITION: Whatever happened to that irony kid? I can’t find out anything about the CBF, except to confirm that The Chicago Tribune is the “exclusive newspaper sponsor.”
I started this blog in October 2002 because I couldn’t find any listing, online or off, that focused on literary events in Chicago. By literary events I mean literary fiction, poetry, and related non-fiction (literary criticism, literary biography, etc.). So I decided to publish one myself.
I don’t include any of the non-fiction or self-help authors that dominate most lists of “author appearances.” I don’t include genre works (mysteries, thrillers, etc.) unless for some reason they appeal to me. I don’t include plays or other performance art. Where an author is new to me, I do a little research before I add them to the list to make sure they belong here. My ultimate screening criteria are a) does this fit within my definition of “literary,” and b) is this an event I would attend?
I hate listing events whose relevant details – time, place, etc. – aren’t listed elsewhere on the web, preferably by the publisher or author or event host. That can only end in tears, when I inevitably get the time wrong and you arrive early or late or on the wrong day and then blame me. Let’s not spoil this great relationship we’ve developed over the last five years, or five seconds, as the case may be.
I kind of think that putting your details on the web is the least you can do to advertise your events. All else is vanity, as the good book says. Meaning something entirely different, but I think you understand my point.
The posts on Golden Rule Jones are secondary to the events listing. Sometimes they highlight new event series or sponsors, or flag articles about writers coming to town, or talk about my impressions of those writers and their appearances. More often they just reflect random literary matters that catch my attention, Chicago-related or (more often) not. At a minimum, by revealing my tastes and preferences, they should help you determine whether the events I list might be of interest to you as well.
In the old days I would keep this list just for my own benefit. Now, with a tiny amount of added effort, I can share it with you. You gotta love the web.
But despite his enviable track record and a new novel, “Saul and Patsy” (Pantheon) due out Sept. 9, he remains surprisingly obscure, less read and talked about than writers of comparable – or arguably lesser – accomplishment. Part of the explanation may lie with the label “Midwestern” and the mostly dubious associations it implies that hover over his fiction like, well, storm clouds over the prairie.
“When others think about Midwesterners, they think: naive, somewhat simple,” Mr. Baxter said ruefully. “Why else would you live here if not for some failure in judgment?”
He’s being a bit tongue-in-cheek here, I guess tweaking the New York literary crowd a bit while at the same time connecting with a certain strain of self-doubt in the Midwest character.
I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never read Baxter, but after hearing about the new book I brought an armload back from the library last week: The Feast of Love (novel), Believers (stories), Burning Down the House (essays). Time to dig in . . .