Books

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tucsonan Lydia Millet's New Novel Earns High Marks in NYT

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2016 at 3:30 PM

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The New York Times gives high marks to Tucson author Lydia Millet's new novel, Sweet Lamb of Heaven. Laura Lippman's review begins:
It’s not bragging if it’s fact: Few ­novels surprise me. This is not because I’m a genre writer, but because I’m a genre reader, sampling broadly — crime, horror, romance, speculative, dystopian and, more often than not, literary fiction. (Yes, honey, you’re a genre too.) When I teach creative writing, I ask my students to experiment with their television remote controls. Mute the sound and scan the channels, landing on a film or television show heretofore unknown to you. ­Normally, it takes only seconds to identify, by shot composition alone, whether we are watching a comedy or a drama, a soap opera or a police procedural. We have intuited each world’s rules even if we’ve never articulated them.

But Lydia Millet’s “Sweet Lamb of Heaven” confounded me, delightfully so. After serving as a judge for the 2015 National Book Awards’ fiction category, I have little patience with literary novels that claim to have the propulsive momentum of a thriller, yet Millet pulls it off. About 80 pages in, I scrawled on the title page: I don’t know where I’m going. Then, a few pages later: How do we leave ourselves behind when we read? The main character’s well-earned paranoia infected me; I felt as if Millet had mined my metadata: mom, concerned citizen, conspiracy skeptic, overwhelmed social media user. But I also sensed that Millet was asking me to transcend my own narrow interests, to open my mind to the possibility of a world I had not — possibly could not — imagine.
Read the whole review here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Ass Kicking and Ass Kissing, 18th Century Style

Posted By on Tue, Apr 5, 2016 at 8:19 AM

COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA
  • Courtesy of Wikimedia
This post has nothing to do with the topics I usually write about. It's just that I started rereading Tom Jones by Henry Fielding, published in 1749, which I read when I was a college sophomore. It's one of those things old English majors, especially after they become English teachers, sometimes do. A few weeks ago, in a moment of boredom, I was thumbing through my free Kindle books, found Tom Jones and started looking it over, thinking I'd spend about 15 minutes there, then move on. Now I'm more than halfway through and enjoying it immensely. Very funny, very witty (Funny and witty aren't necessarily the same thing, by the way. As Alexander Pope once wrote: "True Wit is Nature to advantage dress'd/What oft was thought, but ne'er so well express'd." [Old English teachers never die, they just lose their class, or something like that]).

For those who haven't read the book or seen the marvelous 1963 film starring a then-beautiful Albert Finney and an even more beautiful Susannah York, it's the story of a high-spirited-yet-moral young man who falls into no end of difficulties. And at one point, Tom offends the old Squire Western whose daughter he is in love with, at which time the country squire, a rough-hewn man who loves nothing more than drinking and hunting, says to Tom,
“I wull have satisfaction o’ thee,” answered the squire: “so doff thy clothes. At unt half a man, and I’ll lick thee as well as wast ever licked in thy life.”
The fight doesn't take place, but the squire keeps yelling at Tom. Until I read this passage, I was sure the phrases, "I'm gonna kick your ass!" and "Kiss my ass!" were reasonably modern, along with the term, "Ass kisser." Apparently not. Listen to Fielding describing, rather delicately (this is 17th century England, after all, not Chaucer's 14th century England), the phrases he says one often hears "among the lower orders of the English gentry."
"[Squire Western] then bespattered the youth with abundance of that language which passes between country gentlemen who embrace opposite sides of the question; with frequent applications to him to salute that part which is generally introduced into all controversies that arise among the lower orders of the English gentry at horse-races, cock-matches, and other public places. Allusions to this part are likewise often made for the sake of the jest. And here, I believe, the wit is generally misunderstood. In reality, it lies in desiring another to kiss your a — for having just before threatened to kick his; for I have observed very accurately, that no one ever desires you to kick that which belongs to himself, nor offers to kiss this part in another."

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Friday, April 1, 2016

Zona Politics: The Reason for Flowers, Jan. 8 Memorial Efforts and the Supercollider

Posted By on Fri, Apr 1, 2016 at 5:28 PM

April 3rd, 2016 from Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel on Vimeo.

On this week's episode of Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel: We speak with UA professor Stephen Buchmann, the author of The Reason for Flowers; Dot Kret of the January 8 Memorial Foundation about the plans for a memorial to commemorate the mass shooting at Gabby Giffords' Congress on Your Corner; and UA physicists Mike Shupe and Shufang Su, who talk about their work with the Large Hadron Collider.

The show airs at 8 a.m. Sunday on the CW Tucson, Channel 8 on Cox and Comcast and Channel 58 on DirecTV, Dish and broadcast. You can also hear it at 5 p.m. Sunday on community radio KXCI, 91.3 FM. Or watch it online above.

Here's a rush transcript of the show:

(Nintzel) Hello, everyone. I'm Tucson Weekly's senior writer Jim Nintzel and we're here to talk Zona Politics. Today, we're back to talking about books. My first guest is Stephen Buchmann, a U of A professor and author of nearly a dozen books. The most recent, The Reason for Flowers, is just out in paperback. Steve, welcome to Zona Politics.

(Buchmann) Hi, Jim. It's great to be here.

(Nintzel) You know, this book The Reason for Flowers, it's really a celebration of flowers and the role they play in nature. Why do you find flowers so fascinating?

(Buchmann) The bottom line, I think, is, I like to think that if flowers didn't exist, if they hadn't come on the scene over a hundred million years ago, that maybe humans wouldn't be here. So I think of our distant common relatives as seeing flowers as the harbinger of fruits and food that would soon come next, so they noticed I think this has a lot to do with our innate preference for flowers, and the fact that since they do turn into fruits and seeds, they end up feeding the world.

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Author Jim Harrison Dead at Age 78

Posted By on Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 10:00 AM

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Patagonia writer Jim Harrison died Saturday, March 26. The New York Times remembers the author's many appetites:

At bottom, Mr. Harrison was not so much like Hemingway as he was like something out of Hemingway. Or, more accurately, something out of Rabelais — a mustachioed, barrel-chested bear of a man whose unapologetic immoderation encompassed a dazzling repertory:

There was the eating. Mr. Harrison once faced down 144 oysters, just to see if he could finish them. (He could.)

There was the drinking. One fine summer, he personally tested 38 varieties of Côtes du Rhône. (“It was like a small wine festival. Just me, really,” he told The Washington Post afterward.)

There was the drugging, in his Hollywood period, when he wrote the screenplays for films including “Revenge” (1990), starring Kevin Costner and based on Mr. Harrison’s novella of that name.

There was the hobnobbing with his spate of famous friends, including Jack Nicholson, John Huston, Bill Murray and Jimmy Buffett.

All these ingredients were titanically encapsulated in a dinner Mr. Harrison once shared with Orson Welles, which involved, he wrote, “a half-pound of beluga with a bottle of Stolichnaya, a salmon in sorrel sauce, sweetbreads en croûte, a miniature leg of lamb (the whole thing) with five wines, desserts, cheeses, ports” and a chaser of cocaine.

But constructing Mr. Harrison merely as a rough-and-ready man of appetite — a perennial conceit of profile writers, and one he did relatively little to dispel — ignores the deep intellectualism of the writer and his work. In conversation, he could range easily and without affectation over Freud, Kierkegaard, Stravinsky, Zen Buddhism, Greek oral epic and ballet.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Pima Offering Creative Writing Weekend Workshop

Posted By on Tue, Mar 15, 2016 at 2:00 PM

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Tucsonans inspired by last weekend's Festival of Books, listen up: Pima Community College is hosting a creative writing weekend this Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday. 

From the press release: 
What differentiates the impulse to write poetry from the impulse to write prose? Can that seed go either way?

These questions and other innovative ways of thinking about poetry, fiction, the essay and more will be explored during Pima Community College’s spring 2016 Creative Writing Weekend Workshop on poetry writing led by writer and editor Aisha Sabatini Sloan. We will look at literary models that hover – deliriously – between fiction, poetry and the essay.
The event will take place at Downtown Campus (1255 N. Stone Avenue, room AH 140) March 25-27. 

The workshop beings on Friday at 6 p.m. with a two hour session, and continues on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Pima students can enroll in the course (Writing 298T2, CRN 22557) as they do with regular classes. Non-students must fill out the college admission form before enrolling in the two-credit course. The cost of this three-day workshop is $177 for Arizona residents.

Visit PCC's website for more information. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Let's Watch Margaret Regan, Luis Alberto Urrea and Teresa Duncan at the Tucson Festival of Books

Posted By on Mon, Mar 14, 2016 at 11:00 AM

Margaret Regan
  • Margaret Regan
In case you didn't make it to the Tucson Festival of Books yesterday—or you decided to attend a different panel—CSPAN has posted the panel author and featuring longtime Tucson Weekly contributor Margaret Regan (The Death of Josseline, Detained and Deported), Luis Alberto Urrea (The Devil's Highway, The Hummingbird's Daughter) and attorney Theresa Duncan (who represents The Guantanamo Diary author Mohamedou Ould Slahi).

I was lucky enough to moderate the panel, which examined the human cost of the U.S. border policy and the decision to keep detainees locked up in Guantanamo without trial—or even charges, in the case of Slahi.

You can watch the whole thing here.

Regan did an open-phones segment with callers from across America that you can watch here.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Check Out These 5 Festival of Books Events

Posted By on Fri, Mar 11, 2016 at 9:00 AM

It's March in Tucson, and while that means spring has sprung, the Tucson Festival of Books has also. The annual Festival will take over the UA campus this Saturday, March 11 and Sunday, March 12 and features more than 200 events, according to my calculations. I'm a journalist, so don't take that number for gospel, but trust me—the Festival hosts a lot of readings, discussions, panels, and petting zoos, among other things. 
COURTESY TUCSON FESTIVAL OF BOOKS FACEBOOK PAGE
  • Courtesy Tucson Festival of Books Facebook Page
Hitting up every single ones of these is pretty exhausting, so if you're not looking to really delve into all the Festival has to offer, but still want to stop by for a taste, be sure to check out these five events. 

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Find Tucson Weekly People at the Festival of Books

Posted By on Thu, Mar 10, 2016 at 12:51 PM

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Mari laid it out in this week's Editor's Note, but in case you missed that, here's a day-by-day guide to where you can run into TW folks at this weekend's Tucson Festival of Books: 

Saturday

  • Arts contributor and former editor, Margaret Regan will be on the panel Women Journalists on the Border moderated by UA School of Journalism's Celeste Gonzalez de Bustamante. Social and Behavioral Sciences Tent, Saturday, March 12, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

  • Editor Mari Herreras will be at the Politics of Poetry: Social Activism with a Fine Point Pen panel, Saturday, March 12 at 1 p.m., Pima County Public Library/Nuestras Raíces/Presentation Stage with Odilia Galván Rodríguez and Enrique Garcia Naranjo, and moderated by Tucson Poet Logan Phillips.

  • Mari Herreras will moderate Bordertown and Other One-sided Arguments with Chicano author and illustrator Lalo Alcaraz, Pima County Public Library/Nuestras Raíces/Presentation Stage, Saturday, March 12, 4-5 p.m. 

Sunday

  • Mari Herreras will be at Poetry of Resistance: Voices for Social Justice, Sunday, 10-11 a.m., Student Union Kiva with Tucson writers Elena Díaz Bjorkquist, Andrea Hernandez Holm and Roberto Rodriguez. Moderated by poet Odilia Galván Rodríguez.

  • In the Human Rights panel, Margaret Regan is joined by author Luis Alberto Urrea and attorney Teri Duncan. Student Union Gallagher Theater, Sunday, March 13, 10-11 a.m. Moderated by TW senior staff writer Jim Nintzel.

  • In That's Border Life, She Said, Regan shares the stage with Kathryn Ferguson and Gayle Jandrey. Student Union Kachina, Sunday, March 13, 1-2 p.m. This forum will also be moderated by Jim Nintzel.
That's it! The rest of us will just be running around, enjoying the literary goodness. 

Staff Pick

PCC theatre arts: Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

The crazy antics of Willy Wonka creates anticipation as Charlie Bucket and the rest of the golden… More

@ Pima Community College Center for the Arts Fri., Sept. 23, 7-8:30 p.m., Sat., Sept. 24, 2-3:30 & 7-8:30 p.m., Sun., Sept. 25, 2-3:30 p.m., Fri., Sept. 30, 7-8:30 p.m., Sat., Oct. 1, 2-3:30 & 7-8:30 p.m. and Sun., Oct. 2, 2-3:30 p.m. 2202 W. Anklam Road.

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