Announcing a project very near and dear to me, several months in the works. First, a bit of preamble.
Everyone knows most author readings are boring. And everyone knows most book trailers are terrible. Why not find a solution for both?
FSG is partnering with GQ to try something different: authors and musicians in conversation, hosted by David Rees (Get Your War On, Artisanal Pencil Sharpening, Kale City), in an intimate West Village loft space. We’ll film each event and edit it down to a compelling short film for broadcast online.
The first event? November 8th, with John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead, and Brooklyn’s own Caveman. Continue reading
Like a rising phoenix with questionable IP usage, Nerd Jeopardy is back for round three. It’s just like every other literary trivia night you’ve attended, except this one comes with free wine (courtesy of Möet Hennessy) and a time-tested structure (courtesy of Alex Trebek).
Unlike the game show, all of our questions are about books, publishing, and pop culture. Three teams of three compete (the prizes are middling; the glory, everlasting) in two rounds, with some audience participation thrown in for good measure. There will be surprise appearances from some notable novelists in the form of the immortal Video Daily Double.
As an added bonus the whole ordeal’s going down at one of my favorite bookstores: McNally Jackson.
NB: The event’s presented by my little newsletter for FSG, Work in Progress. (If you haven’t subscribed yet, you should. There’s a nice little bonus package for subscribers in the July 15th issue.)
Thur. July 21st, 7pm
McNally Jackson (basement), 52 Prince St
If you’re ever wondered, “What’s the point of books?”, you now have an answer: to best other nerds at a literary trivia show. I’ve checked and double-checked all the questions, watched hours of Alex Trebek footage, and translated everything into Latin (and then back again into English, at Housing Works’ request). We’re as ready as we’ll ever be.
So what can you expect? First, decide if you want to compete. If yes, grab two friends (PhDs in Comparative English Lit. preferred), invent a team name, and drop your name in the hat tomorrow night. I’ll select three teams around 7:15pm.
If you’d rather watch, making loud pshaw!s and harrumph!s–which are encouraged–you can jump in during the Audience Quiz at intermission.
A few tips:
- Don’t even bother rereading DeLillo’s Underworld, you either know it or you don’t at this point.
- There are fewer categories about Foucault than last time.
- Curiously enough, the questions will get easier in round two, even though the point values for each question double. This is to take into account the contestants’ mounting inebriation.
- Anytime all three teams are stumped, feel free to yell out the answer if you know it. This will augment their humiliation, and make the victory that much sweeter for the winners.
- The T-Shirt Cannon I jerry-rigged to fire first editions was a really, really bad idea. (FSG Intern Stan, R.I.P.) Back to the drawing board on that one. It may make its debut at Nerd Jeopardy #3.
- Puns, there are a few.
- There are no questions about Borges. Okay, maybe one.
The afterparty’s at Botanica
. Is there a drink special in the works? Indeed there is.
At a recent event for Harper’s, an interviewer asked Zadie Smith whom she counts among her favorite contemporary book reviewers. She immediately replied with one name: Geoff Dyer.
If you haven’t read Dyer, it’s likely you have a friend who is incredulous at such an omission. Dyer tends to incite fervor in readers: “You have to read this, now. Take my copy. Call in sick. Go to jury duty tomorrow.” I admit I am one such friend. And in the case of this month’s Work in Progress, I hope his essay “Reader’s Block” wins a few more converts.
The strange thing about this is that at twenty I imagined I would spend my middle age reading books that I didn’t have the patience to read when I was young. But now, at forty-one, I don’t even have the patience to read the books I read when I was twenty. At that age I plowed through everything in the Arnoldian belief that each volume somehow nudged me imperceptibly closer to the sweetness and light. I readWar and Peace, Anna Karenina, Ulysses, Moby Dick. I got through The Idiot even though I hated practically every page of it. I didn’t read The Brothers Karamazov:I’ll leave it till I’m older, I thought—and now that I am older I wish I’d read it when I was younger, when I was still capable of doing so.
Now go read the rest of it. Then read Out of Sheer Rage.
The other piece I’m excited about is Tristan Garcia’s interview in BOMB Magazine, which they’ve offered to post online for WIP subscribers. Garcia’s novel Hate: A Romance appeared and then quickly disappeared last fall, unfortunately. While it’s cliché to say it’s a novel unlike any I’d read before, I stand by it. Continue reading
The first Work in Progress of 2011 is alive and well, with a hodgepodge o’ content. I’m most excited about the U.S. debut of a Mario Vargas Llosa essay on how he cured his fear of flying. (It’s not sleeping pills.)
There’s an extended conversation between editor Jonathan Galassi and poet Gjertrud Schnackenberg, which goes into incredible depth about the myriad sources behind her work: Buddha, Carl Sagan, and the Lutherans all play a part.
The third article started out with an appeal from a couple of our writers. Justin Spring and Wendy Moffat, both biographers of gay historical subjects, asked if we could make a video for the It Gets Better campaign. Hearing how E. M. Forster and Sam Steward, very different men, lead successful lives despite social prejudice was quite heartening. I also like Justin Spring’s comment about how much good sex is in store for homosexual teens later in life.
And finally, David Levithan asks readers to write dictionary entries. Kind of.
I had a lot of fun producing this video for David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary. And thanks to the good Mr. Scott Ordway for providing the score.
I’m pretty excited about the book itself, too. Last January, FSG published the (very fucking) excellent Lost Books of the Odyssey, and this January we have another experimental novel by a young writer. The dictionary entry conceit is cute at first, then quite moving, and, ultimately, as good a lens as any other for looking closely at a relationship. It also helps that Levithan’s written several books already and is quite adept at conveying intimacy and pain with incredible precision.
A quick thanks to everyone who came out on Thursday to Nerd Jeopardy. It was a big success and we’ll definitely do it again. I’m thinking February, at a bigger venue to accommodate the crowd. (Best way to find out about the next one is to sign up at Work in Progress.)
Thanks to Team TK, The First Mrs. Rochesters, and The Merry Husbands of Windsor Terrace for competing. The Merry Husbands took first, showcasing a breadth of literary knowledge essential to winning Nerd Jeopardy (and more or less useless anywhere else). Personally, the whole night was worth it for my “MockingJay-Z” pun.
And congrats to Iris Blasi, who won the Audience Award: a Kobo ereader.