Books

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Catch 'My Heart Can't Even Believe It' Author Amy Silverman at Antigone This Friday

Posted By on Tue, May 17, 2016 at 3:16 PM

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Enjoyed last week's cover story? Author Amy Silverman will be at Antigone Books this Friday, May 20 at 7 p.m.

A short excerpt from Silverman's book:
Some of my earliest childhood memories are of walking through the sliding doors of Good Samaritan Hospital in downtown Phoenix, feeling a whoosh as the hot outside air mixed with the icy air conditioning, ushering me inside a grown-up, important place. I loved the gift shop at Scottsdale Memorial Hospital, particularly the flower arrangements you could order that looked like a clown or a shaggy white dog. I didn't know how they did that, but I knew that if I was ever in the hospital (I never was, not till I had babies), that's what I wanted. Years later, as an adult, I was poking around that same gift shop and noticed something in the back of the refrigerator case. A clown flower arrangement! It didn't look as good as I remembered, just a carnation in a cheap vase, decorated with googly eyes and pipe cleaners. But that wave of nostalgia was a huge rush.

Here in the hospital, at the bedside of an elderly grandparent or great aunt, I'd see cousins, aunts, and uncles I hadn't seen in months (or longer), tape my homemade card on the wall, and head down with other visiting family members for what I considered to be an exotic meal in the cafeteria. Even my father, not the most sentimental of souls, often showed up for visiting hours, which tended to involve minor injuries and illnesses. Nothing too serious (I was not brought along on those visits, anyway), and as far as I know, no one in our family ever had a baby with any kind of significant health issue.

Until Sophie.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Tucson Novelist Thinks Maybe It's Time To Just Start Writing Porn

Posted By on Mon, May 9, 2016 at 2:00 PM

Lydia Millet: Finally ready for a career that pays?
  • Lydia Millet: Finally ready for a career that pays?
Over at Salon, Tucson novelist Lydia Millet offers a modest proposal about giving up on literary fiction and jumping into writing porn:

So we’ve got the unmoving words on the page. That’s the first black mark against us. Second: do we get to the point? How soon? Here’s the answer: no. We don’t get to the point, not for 200 pages at least. Sometimes 3,600, if we’re Knausgaard. At writing workshops they taught us to show not tell — well, showing takes time. We paint a slow picture. You can see the brushstrokes. We don’t get to the point, and sometimes when we do our readers don’t notice, in fact. It’s so couched in nuance it can fly right over a person’s head. What was that you said? I couldn’t quite make it out.

Third, sound bites. We don’t have them. No pull quotes. No celebrity names. Few if any pictures. The list of what we don’t have is a long one. Our tools for captivation are few, and often ungainly.

Which is why I’ve settled on porn, come to a decision that my next book after this one will be devoted to relentless, often hardcore pornography. I can’t give you an exact preview here on the pages of Salon, of course: this is a decent website. Plus that would be a spoiler.
All joking aside: Millet's new novel, Sweet Lamb of Heaven, continues to draw rave reviews. At Slate, Laura Miller writes:

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Zona Politics: UA College Dean Joaquin Ruiz Talks Biosphere Anniversary, Amy Silverman Talks About Her New Book & More!

Posted By on Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 4:57 PM

May 1st, 2016 from Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel on Vimeo.

On this week's episode of Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel: UA College of Science Dean Joaquin Ruiz stops by to talk what's going on at the Biosphere—including the One Young World conference, the Landscape Evolution Observatory and some plans for farming—as the giant terrarium's 25th anniversary approaches. He also fills us in on some of the latest news with the Lunar and Planetary Lab's space program. Then Phoenix New Times managing editor Amy Silverman joins us to discuss her new book, My Heart Can't Even Believe It, about how having a daughter with Down syndrome changed her family's life. And then Valerie Trouet of the UA Tree Ring Lab talks about some of her work, including a new study that used tree rings and shipwrecks to recreate a Caribbean hurricane record that dates back centuries.

You can catch the show at 8 a.m. Sunday mornings on the CW Tucson, Channel 8 on Cox and Comcast and Channel 58 on DirecTV, Dish and broadcast. You can also hear it Sunday afternoons at 5 p.m. on KXCI Community Radio, 91.3 FM. Or you can watch it online here.

Here's a rush transcript of the show:

(Nintzel) Hello, everyone. I'm Tucson Weekly senior writer Jim Nintzel, your host for Zona Politics. Today We're going to detour away from politics to talk about science and books. We begin with our friend, Joaquin Ruiz, the dean of the U of A College of Science. Dean Ruiz, welcome to Zona Politics.

(Ruiz) Always a pleasure to be here.

(Nintzel) So the Biosphere is celebrating its 25th Anniversary. You have a big event coming up there this month One Young World Environmental Summit. What's that all about?

(Ruiz) Well, this organization called One Young World specializes in having meetings around the world, in which 18-to-30-year-old leaders meet and discuss whatever the topic may be. The last one was in Thailand. And now they've decided that they want to focus on the environment, specifically a summit on the environment. They're using the Biosphere as the venue, so it's beautiful. We expect to have at least 300 people, maybe even more. Again, leaders. They're either from Apple or Caterpillar or other companies and people from other countries and it will be a day and a half of meetings, conferences. We have inspirational people that are going to come and talk, and to me, the most important thing about the whole meeting is, one, allowing folks from around the world to come and see the Biosphere, and coming to see Tucson and what the UA has to offer with respect to the environment.

(Nintzel) And you have had the Biosphere, now, in the control of the College of Science for almost ten years, and, how's it going out there?

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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. 

Staff Pick

Carnival of Illusion: Magic, Mystery & Oooh La La!

Carnival of Illusion conjures an evening of old-world magic by blending their international travel theme with all… More

@ Scottish Rite Grand Parlour Saturdays, 5:30 p.m., Sat., Oct. 3, 8 p.m. and Saturdays, 5 & 8 p.m. Continues through April 22 160 South Scott Ave

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