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Dancer creates book on north Minneapolis tornado

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: January 22, 2013 - 8:05 AM

 

POSTED BY CAROLINE PALMER -- Special to the Star Tribune

On May 22, 2011 a tornado tore through north Minneapolis, demolishing homes, scattering belongings and changing the lives of all who were affected in an area that had already seen more than its fair share of challenges. While many of the stories of that day and its aftermath have been told through the media, there is still more to know about what happened – and what came next – for those in the storm’s path.

Choreographer Stuart Pimsler, who lives near the edge of the destruction (his house escaped damage) said by phone that it “was incredible to see how the neighborhood was visibly changed, there were mature old trees ripped out of the ground, every roof had a blue tarp on it. Some stayed on houses for over a year.” He talked with the members of his company, Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater (SPDT), about creating a project in response. The result is a book, “Temporary Shelter: Tales from the Minneapolis Tornado,” which will be released this Saturday, January 26 at 3 p.m. during a free event at the Capri Theater.

Pimsler’s impulse was natural given SPDT’s “Community Connections” program. Over its 34-year history the troupe has developed a “parallel track” to its performance work, he said, involving “different populations and different subject matter inquiries” in workshops and related activities. While much of this work never goes onstage, it often involves opportunities for individuals to express themselves in ways they might not have before. Health care providers and educators, for example, have been among the program’s participants.

The idea for a book about the tornado and its impact came from the desire to “create a permanent record,” said the choreographer, who was joined in the effort by photographer V. Paul Virtucio. Pimsler started by reaching out to local nonprofits like the North Point Health and Wellness Center, Northside YMCA, the Urban League, Urban Homeworks and Pillsbury United. After talking with staff he received referrals to clients. “By the time we were all done we had talked to in excess of 100 people in the neighborhood and more than 30 organizations,” said Pimsler. Homeowners, renters, small business owners, a landlord, recovery helpers – many voices were heard.

As to be expected, there were a variety of perspectives. Some people had positive experiences with the recovery and received the help they needed to get back on their feet; others felt abandoned by the government, insurance companies and landlords. But instead of bringing a particular political bent to the project, said Pimsler, “We soon found out that everybody had really different experiences. It was really important to be hands-off on having an agenda, to let the cross-section of humanity have time to speak and to allow readers to draw their own conclusions.”

For Saturday’s event at the Capri, Pimsler has asked each SPDT member “to select a person whose story they were drawn to and to do an homage to that story. So everybody will be doing a solo.” In addition to the performance there will be a buffet meal.

The following weekend, February 2 at 7 p.m., marks the opening of “Art in the Everyday: Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater Retrospective,” an exhibition at the Anita Sue Kolman Gallery of “artifacts” from the company’s history including sets, costumes and other design elements. The exhibit will include the work of the late Ronald Aiji Kajiwara, a former design director for Vogue magazine who collaborated with SPDT during its early years. Opening night will include interactive performances and a discussion with Pimsler and Artistic Co-Director Suzanne Costello. The show will run through March 5.

As if a book release and exhibition were not enough to keep SPDT busy in the coming weeks, the troupe will also perform a world premiere, “Walking, Singing and Other Habits,” and two repertory works at the Cowles Center February 15-17.

The book on Bond

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: December 3, 2012 - 4:04 PM
After a half century on the job, a spy deserves a rest. Sean Connery in "Diamonds Are Forever" from Life Books' "50 Years of James Bond."

After a half century on the job, a spy deserves a rest. Sean Connery in "Diamonds Are Forever" from Life Books' "50 Years of James Bond."


So there's a James Bond fan on your gift list and the $299 pricetag for "Bond 50," the new 22-film blu ray extravaganza, feels a trifle steep? Comsider "50 Years of James Bond," a tribute to Ian Fleming's superspy by the editors of Life magazine (Life Books, $27.95.) It's a handsomely designed coffee table book with the depth and quality you would expect from the flagship of photojournalism. Even inveterate Bond lovers will find images here they've never seen before. The pictures haven't been previously published.

There are breezy two-page entries on all the Bond films, including the non-cannonical 1967 "Casino Royale" and Sean Connery's 1983 return engagement,"Never Say Never Again." There's even a chapter on the sacriligeous 1954 CBS TV presentation of "Casino Royale," starring Barry Nelson as an Americanized "Jimmy" Bond. The essays are long on "hey, listen to this" trivia: Did you know that while singing the theme song for "Thunderball" Tom Jones held the last note so long he fainted? Or that in "For Your Eyes only," Roger Moore's Bond bedded a character played by Cassandra Harris, the real-life wife of Bond-to-be Pierce Brosnan? Don't know the connection between the Bond films and George Harrison's passion for the sitar? Learn about it here.

You shouldn't use this book to settle all your bar bets, though. It asserts that in "You Only Live Twice," "Bond did not pilot any kind of vehicle -- first time ever." How did they miss his airborne duel with four enemy helicopters at the controls of his gyrocopter Little Nellie? It declares that Moore's 007 used a Magnum handgun rather than the traditional Walther, a claim that even a cursory glance at the photos dispels.

Still, there's more to enjoy here than to criticize. There's a compendium of Bond imitators and satirists, nice biographies of the Bond actors and an inflation-adjusted tally of each film's box office take. Those who don't want to trawl the limitless seas of Bond information on the Internet will find this a handy field

Erin Morgenstern's 'Night Circus' was a 'messy process'

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: November 11, 2012 - 9:30 AM

 

Erin Morgenstern backstage at the Fitzgerald Theater before her Nov. 9 Talking Volumes appearance. / Photo by Claude Peck

She labored over scraps and fragments for years, saying “I always thought about writing more than I actually wrote.” But when Erin Morgenstern finally gathered her pieces into a whole, she created an atmospheric world in her debut novel, “The Night Circus.” It captivated readers and made her a bestselling author.

Still just 34, Morgenstern appeared Friday, November 9 at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul and charmed a nearly full house with stories about her characters and her creative process.

Morgenstern was the final guest in a 2012 Talking Volumes author-appearance season that included Junot Diaz, Jeffrey Toobin and Abraham Verghese. She was interviewed by Kerri Miller of Minnesota Public Radio.

Among various things that influenced the Smith College theater major and visual artist was the British troupe Punchdrunk Theater and its “Sleep No More,” which sends audiences through an elaborately decorated series of rooms in a giant New York City warehouse to experience a wordless, nocturnal “Macbeth” based mostly on movement and atmosphere. “I loved that production,” Morgentstern said. “It was immersive and unforgettable.”

Morgenstern also credited her own “vivid dreams" for helping her develop the circus world surrounding her novel’s cast of characters.

A lifelong reader, Morgenstern said the as a girl she often took books into her closet, where nothing could distract her entry into fictional worlds. When she started trying to write her own fiction, she said, she “learned that writing is a really messy process” full of re-ordering, tossing out and revising. “I don’t write in chapters, and I don’t write in order,” she said. “I’m not really an outliner, as is probably dreadfully obvious.”

Morgentstern’s fans keep urging her to come out with another novel. She has three or four ideas in progress, but “my next book will be a while.” And it won’t be a sequel to “The Night Circus,” she said.

The Massachusetts native is in the process of moving from Boston to New York. There, she said, she hopes to get back to writing after a long period on tour to promote her first novel.

Star Tribune interview with Morgenstern, and review of her novel. 

Twin Cities Book Festival moves to State Fairgrounds Sat. Oct. 13

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: October 8, 2012 - 5:43 PM

 

View of the 2010 book fair

 

The 12th annual Twin Cities Book Festival will be held at the historic Progress Center Building on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds on Saturday, October 13. Among the new attractions: Free Parking!

Events include a giant book fair featuring displays from publishers and literary agents, readings and panels with world-class authors, a used book sale, and storytelling in a children's pavilion. Plus assorted freebies. All sponsored by Rain Taxi Review of Books. Hours: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Junot Diaz awarded 'genius' grant

Posted by: Kristin Tillotson Updated: October 1, 2012 - 6:06 PM

 

 Photo by Arthur Pollock

 Author Junot Diaz, pictured here at the living room window of his Cambridge apartment in August, has a special reason to smile today.

 Fiction writer Junot Diaz has won one of the "genius" grants awarded annually by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. In addition to considerable prestige, the award means big money: Diaz will be one of 23 honorees to receive $500,000 over five years. Diaz, who teaches writing at MIT in Cambridge, Mass., won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for his novel "The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao."

Reached Monday afternoon via email, Diaz said "Hate to sound Hollywood but this one is for my community whose sacrifice and courage made me possible," referring to the Dominican immigrant subculture in which he grew up.

As the opening author for the Star Tribune/ MPR Talking Volumes series last month at the Fitzgerald Theater, Diaz was a smart, lively and salty-tongued guest. His third and latest book is the just-published story collection "This Is How You Lose Her," The MacArthur Foundation's release says he "uses raw, vernacular dialogue and spare, unsentimental prose to draw readers into the various and distinct worlds that immigrants must straddle."

Diaz also loves sci-fi, and recently published a story called "Monstro" in the New Yorker. What will he do with that substantial wad of cash?

"I want to write my monster book," he said. "That's what this fellowship will do."

Read a profile of Diaz here: http://www.startribune.com/a1763  and a review of "This Is How You Lose Her" here: http://www.startribune.com/a1764    Also, video excerpts from  his Talking Volumes appearance, with host Kerri Miller of MPR, below:

 

 

 

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