It is always charming when a writer's mother sends a polite e-mail, trying not to boast, but wanting to make sure that I had seen something noteworthy that their writing child has done.
And this time, what the writer's mother had to offer was really, really cool. It's just a two-minute book trailer on YouTube, but it's a funny two-minutes. The book is "States of Confusion: My 19,000 Detour to Find Direction," by Minneapolis native Paul Jury (who now lives in L.A.).
In his book, Jury visits each of the 48 contiguous states in just 48 days as a way to figure out where he wanted to go in life. I've not read it yet, but if it's as funny as the trailer, he's got a hit. And actually, the trailer itself is a hit--1.3 million hits so far. In it, he races through each state (including Alaska and Hawaii), stopping to deliver his own slogan. North Dakota? "Somehow even worse than South Dakota." Wisconsin? "It's too cold to be sober." Minnesota? You'll just have to watch and see.
Jury went to Hale, Field, Folwell and South High Schools, and somewhere, his mother tells me, a comment from his kindergarten teacher is buried in the YouTube comments.
By the way, the Dave Schwimmer-like guy in the video is not Paul Jury! Paul's working the camera, and wrote the lines.
Read it and weep, St. Paul. Linden Hills poet Elissa Cottle has started a bimonthly reading series in art galleries, but only in Southwest Minneapolis. This is partly because she is too time-deprived (like many of us) for "schlepping all the way out to St. Paul, or wherever," whenever she's hungry for literature. (This quote is from an interview with patch.com.) Hmph. Well, then, St. Paul will simply have to come to her.
Since last fall, every few weeks she has gathered up four or five writers, found a welcoming gallery, and curated what might be called a lovely salon. In June, she and four writers will be at Simply Jane Open-Art Studio on 54th and Nicollet.
The event begins at 6:15 p.m. on Sunday, June 12, and you can listen to George Roberts, Cottle's first writing teacher and the author of "the blessing of winter rain." (That lower-case title is his, not mine.) Also, Margaret Hasse, author of "Milk and Tides," which won a Midwest Book Award. Also, Paul Mattes, a poet and memoirist. And also Monika Deinard, who writes flash fiction and likes to ride her bike. Appetizers and beverages to follow.
It's all free, and it sounds most pleasant. Oh, and Gwendolyn? There isn't one. Cottle just likes the lyrical name.
To be considered for the Aug. 14 reading at Uniquely Yours gallery, e-mail one page of your best writing to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oh, and here's an update from the previous blog entry, about the overnight reading sponsored by Rain Taxi Review. If you're a writer, and you're interested in taking part, send an email to the folks at Rain Taxi to get a time slot. They have openings from 3 to 4 a.m., and from 4 to 5 a.m. Good luck and don't forget the no-doz.
One of the joys of being a subscriber to Granta is seeing, with each issue, what theme the literary journal is going to tackle this time. Themed issues began in 1979, under editor Bill Buford, and they have been both eclectic ("What Young Men Do") and frank ("Losers").
The themes continued when John Freeman took over a few years back,and the most frankly-themed issue of all ("Sex") was a best-seller. And now we have "The F Word," which is not what you might think it is.
The newest issue of Granta tackles feminism, and it plunges right into the topic with pieces by Francine Prose, A.S. Byatt, and Edwidge Danticat. Eudory Welty is in here, too. So is Louise Erdrich.
"The Ojibwe Week," Erdrich's offering, is from her novel "The Antelope's Wife," which, according to the contributors' notes,is forthcoming in a newly revised edition.
The folks at Granta have created three short films, inspired by three of the pieces. One film, inspired by Helen Simpson's "Night Thoughts," is posted on the Granta website. I can't link to it here because this is a family newspaper and the film is mildly -- well, imagine what you might be thinking about when you're lying awake at 3 a.m. and there you have it, darkness and all.
We are in the thick of awards season now, and last night it was MIPA--the Midwest Independent Publishers Association, which handed out awards in 35 categories.
Nominees came from the whole Upper Midwest, 12 states. Winners included a fair number from Minnesota, including Michael Nordskog and Aaron Hautala, authors of "The Opposite of Cold," that book that is pretty much known by its unofficial title, "The Sauna Book."
Their book, published by the University of Minnesota Press, took first place in the category of Midwest Regional Interest.
Other local winners included Beaver's Pond Press, which won no fewer than 15 prizes (both first prize, and runner up), Tristan Publishing of Golden Valley, and Bethany House.
Self-published authors, take heart; even iUniverse won a prize. A complete list of winners follows:
|Books (36)||Movies (1)|
|Theater (1)||People (1)|
|Books and resources (5)||Awards (10)|
|Behind the scenes (3)||Book news (256)|
|Galleries (1)||Minnesota authors (12)|
|Museums (1)||St. Paul Como Park (1)|
|Television (1)||Author events (173)|
|Best sellers (7)||Book reviews (8)|
|Book stores (50)||Local authors (152)|
|Readings (67)||Book awards (114)|
|Illustrators (8)||Workshops and conferences (30)|
|Libraries (30)||Local publishers (36)|
|Minnesota Book Awards (10)||World Book Night (6)|
|Club Book (6)||Pen Pals (3)|
|Talk of the Stacks (8)||Talking Volumes (2)|
|E-books (2)||Coffee House Press (5)|
|Competitions (2)||Garrison Keillor (4)|
|Graywolf Press (16)||Louise Erdrich (10)|
|Milkweed Editions (2)||Poetry (20)|
|Robert Bly (5)|