By the time I got home, my jeans were soaked, my shoes had puddles at the toes, and shivers signaled the onset of a mid-September cold. It was so worth it. Brooklyn Book Festival 2010 may have been drenched, but that didn’t keep me from feasting on literary splendors from near and far, at a veritable buffet of authors, critics, publishers, journalists, comedians and more. And kudos to the crowd for showing up in droves to walk the outdoor bookstalls, settle under umbrellas to hear readings on the steps of Borough Hall, and splash through the rain to get from one great event to another.
Thanks to a film adaptation that became a canonical classic, the Japanese fiction writer Ryūnosuke Akutagawa is best remembered for the stories “In a Grove” and “Rashomon,” on which filmmaker Akira Kurosawa based his film Rashomon (1950), taking the plot from the first story and the tone of existential despair from the second. Akutagawa was a short story writer who lived a troubled life and killed himself at the age of 35, and much of his fiction seems to reflect the darkness of his biography.
This semester I handled two classes of a course called Interactive Storytelling, which is offered as an elective to students from the College of Computer Studies at my university. It’s intended to enhance the training of Computer Science majors who might be interested in developing video games or educational software. It’s usually team-taught by a fiction writer and a hypertext specialist, but because I used to work as a web designer and web design teacher, I could handle both aspects of the course, in theory.
Really cool packaging and design concepts for a fragrance line coming out of Poland. All the scents are named and inspired after famous writers. Now as for a the smell... that's only something folks out in Poland can attest to.
A stalwart advocate for freedom of speech, Taslima Nasrin is an exiled political and artistic refugee who has had her share of literary revenge. Despite her work being banned in Bangladesh and India, and even as multiple fatwas have called for her head, she continues to write, speak out, and win awards around the world. Her latest North American release, Revenge (Feminist Press, 2010), is a short novel whose title, in keeping with the life of its author, promises struggle and ready action.
Readers of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 typically enter this whirlpool of a novel through its first section, “The Part About the Critics.” Recent editions of the novel have split it up by section into five shorter books, as Bolaño specified before his death, opening up the possibility of a non-sequential reading of the work. The five sections could certainly be read in any order, but one wonders if a re-sequencing would have a significant impact on one’s interpretation of the novel.
This year, October 30 marks the centennial birth anniversary of the Spanish poet Miguel Hernández, who died in prison in 1942. Unlike Federico Garcia Lorca, Pablo Neruda, Cesar Vallejos, Juan Ramon Jimenez, and other writers associated with the Spanish Civil War, Hernández remains relatively obscure outside Spain, where he continues to be loved and remembered.
An interesting point pertaining to prose fiction style caught my attention in the second part of the interview “One Story, Many Voices” (read Part 1 here). Mantle editor Shaun Randol points out that In My Dreams, It Was Simpler doesn’t have a lot of description, eliciting varied reactions and defenses from the novel’s many authors.