Always happy in the spotlight, or on a dais, or with a microphone pinned to his lapel, Rushdie is now in the odd position of promoting a book about a time when he could do precisely none of these things, when he was living in hiding after Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the author's death. And Rushdie is indeed promoting the book, titled Joseph Anton: A Memoir, with great energy. His appearance Thursday night came amidst a busy calendar of events, including recent appearances in Washington, D.C., and Boston, on "The Daily Show," and at The New Yorker Festival.
As I waited around outside, two other older ladies, each with small, rectangular pieces of cardboard proclaiming that they, too, were looking for tickets, got into a bickering argument when a gentleman in an overcoat decided to give one of the women his spare ticket; the other woman exhibited the injured manner of one whose cab has been stolen. “Can you believe that?” the ticketless woman said repeatedly, to anyone who would listen, shaking her head in disgust.
The next question—about her clothing and style—elicited a more sporting response. That baggy black jacket? Made especially for her by the Belgian fashion designer Ann Demeulemeester. Smith did a little catwalk, twirled and revealed the matching vest’s backless design to cheers from the onlookers. Those rather masculine boots? Brushed, gold-flecked leather pull-on boots by Jimmy Choo. “Fashion-wise, I’m in a Hunger Games mood,” she said. “Sort of Katniss in the woods.”
The site, if you haven't seen it, offers feminist statements over pictures of Gosling looking hot and bothered. But the goal, at least initially, was just to make a silly study guide. Henderson, a graduate student in Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Wisconsin, having recently learned about the Fuck Yeah! Ryan Gosling meme, thought it would be funny to pair feminist theory with the puppy-dog-looking celebrity. “It was literally supposed to be seen by like, five people,” Henderson said. Henderson put up five images on a Friday in October; by November, she had a book deal.
“Whatever E.L. James’s unconscious is doing, she understands this need for women to want to be taken care of and to trade gifts for abuse,” Jong continued. “So on that level, there’s something psychologically true here, even though the book is a piece of shit.”
The biggest cheers of the night came when Rivers answered a question about her opinion of the presidential election. “Both sides are shit, and I think they should take all the money they spend on this campaigning, and put it in the education system,” she said. “And we should have a woman president.” But because she just couldn’t resist, she followed that up with: “Meryl Streep would have made a great president. Wasn’t she great in Precious? She can play any role.”
At last night's Selected Shorts event actress Lois Smith tackled Tóibín’s “A Priest in the Family,” and Tony Award-winning actor Richard Easton read Smith’s 2004 New Yorker- published short, “Hanwell in Hell,” with both authors on hand to chat about their respective pieces before the story readings and, presumably, to lend moral support to their respective literary interpreters.(1)
This month marks nine years since the American invasion of Baghdad. While the United States military mission in Iraq officially ended in December, the impact of war will continue to reverberate for many years to come, both for those who fought it and with those who witnessed it. The latter group was the focus at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism on Wednesday night, where the Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma hosted a panel of Iraq war journalists—many of whom came of age, both professionally and personally, during their time there.
For those who gathered at the New School's Tishman auditorium Wednesday night, it was a chance to see three much-admired writers of short stories—Don DeLillo, Steven Millhauser, and Edith Pearlman—read from their new work and answer questions about their process.
Novelist Heidi Julavits talks about stripping away all that stuff that's a 'waste of time,' and re-embracing Y.A. and early '90s feminism
Speaking last night at the Center for Fiction, where she appeared in conversation with the writer John Wray, Heidi Julavits copped to being a Hunger Games fanatic. Wray, a friend and former poker buddy of Julavits, said that while reading her new novel, The Vanishers, he had also been struck by its YA-ness. The genre, which for years has been one of the book industry's rare growth sectors, has in recent years set off debates about whether such books are, in fact, for adults as well. Julavits had no problem accepting the label.
Michael Ian Black offers some honest advice from his new book, gets interviewed by Meghan McCain, says filthy things
Wednesday night at Greenpoint’s WORD bookstore brought a seemingly unlikely pairing: comedian and actor Michael Ian Black and blogger/personality Meghan McCain. Yet the pairing is more germane than it might sound: McCain and Black are at work on a book together, tentatively titled America, You Sexy Bitch. Yet Black was there to read from his own new book, a comic memoir titled You’re Not Doing It Right, which centers on the honest vicissitudes of marriage and parenthood. McCain interviewed him.
Tweets about pandas, rappers, and dirty stuff plus sex confessions equal a Tao Lin-curated reading at St. Mark's
The literary differences fell, maybe unsurprisingly, along gender lines. The three male readers went for laughs, joked about rappers (as though nothing could be further from their heady literary experimentalism than the black experience), and seemed cooly aloof, while the two women performed their sexuality and their awkwardness, less for laughs than for the sake of some therapeutic confessionalism. If a Muumuu House house style emerged, it was one that was very much in line with the affectless, self-concerned style of Thought Catalog: diaristic essays and Twitter poetry. And it's succeeding. Gaby Dunn, a Thought Catalog writer, scored that Times gig, while Calloway is meeting with literary agents.
Novelist Nathan Englander on writing and theater, the universal appeal of Nora Ephron, and how 'Jewish writing' is not a genre
Since his best-selling debut short-story collection, For Relief of Unbearable Urges, came out in 1999, his name has been mentioned frequently among a generation of writers—Michael Chabon, David Foster Wallace, Zadie Smith—who found their first success in the rosy pre-9/11 days, but were soon being relied upon to usher literature into a different era. Englander fits the mold as his generation’s New York Jewish storyteller, heir to Roth or Bellow, using Jewish characters and milieus in the way Updike played with WASP ones. When I mentioned this to him, he noted that he prefers a more simple designation, “It took me a long time to see that I’m just telling my stories," he said. "Jews with pride will say you’re a Jewish writer. Then a gentile would say you’re a Jewish writer, but it’s not fucking genre fiction.”
Author and lexicographer Jesse Sheidlower explains what the F-word really means, complete with a slideshow
The event at Word bookstore in Greenpoint was billed as "Dirty Words in the Dictionary," but Jesse Sheidlower's presentation—his talk was supplemented by a slide-show—gave the title more bluntly: "Sex in Dictionaries." And certainly, the lexicographer delivered on his prurient promise—though without losing the high-minded, academic flavor one would expect from a clean-cut gentleman associated with the OED.
Talking about addiction, recovery, and writing with David Carr, Mary Karr, Alan Kaufman, and Elizabeth Wurtzel
What an addict means when they talk about hitting bottom is indicative; it's the worst part standing in for a lousy whole. And so it was appropriate that the first thing professor and journalist Susan Shapiro asked the four authors at last night's Housing Works event—which centered on memoirs of addiction and recovery—to describe, was his or her own personal bottom. Shapiro, who has written several books on addiction—both tell-alls about her own vices, and how-tos for readers looking to kick—was moderating a panel of illustrious ex-users: people who had experienced many dark nights of the soul and lived to tell their tales.(4)