Archive for LIT WORLD

Granta Does Chicago

blog_grantaThis week, UK-based literary journal Granta will descend upon the Windy City to celebrate the launch of its new issue, which is dedicated entirely to Chicago; the publication will host a series of events around the city, including one at the STOP SMILING Storefront on Tuesday, September 15; contributions to the issue include fiction and essays by George Saunders, Stuart Dybek, Aleksandar Hemon, Don Delillo, and Sandra Cisneros, a photo essay by Camilo Jose Vergara and a book jacket designed by Chris Ware; Stop Smiling put out its own Chicago Issue in 2006, which is available via our online store.

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The 2009 Printer’s Ball in Chicago

blog_printersball2009STOP SMILING will be on hand for the Poetry Foundation’s fifth-annual Printer’s Ball this Friday, July 31, at the Ludington Building in downtown Chicago; this annual event brings together the Chicago publishing community and its patrons to evaluate where the industry is headed; this year’s Printer’s Ball will be the first to include publishers from outside of Chicago: presenters include Joe Meno speaking for McSweeney’s, Nick Twemlow for jubilat, Eula Biss for Iowa Review and John Beer for The Hat; also in the Ludington Building (which houses the Columbia College Center for Book and Paper Arts) personal projects and collaborations by Chicago rabble-rouser Anne Elizabeth Moore will be on display in the first exhibit of this work in one location. -SS

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Our Man in Havana

blog-hemingwayIn a 2007 post, we rounded up unusual stories that proved readers’ posthumous interest with Ernest Hemingway. The fascination continues: Earlier this month, the New York Times placed a piece on the front cover about the editorial squabbling over a “recast” version of Hemingway’s incomplete memoir A Moveable Feast; now comes an intriguing short entry from the Guardian about the new book Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, which asserts that Hemingway was “for a while on the KGB’s list of its agents in America” and served as a “dilettante spy” — albeit an incompetent one. Read more on the topic here.

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Salinger to Sue Phony Holden Caufield

blog_salingerLast month the Guardian reported that an unauthorized sequel to JD Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, “which sees a 76-year-old ‘Mr C’ flee a nursing home to journey again through the streets of New York,” was written by the Swedish American writer known as JD California, and published by the “tiny” house Windupbird Publishing — now, appropriately, lawyers for the famously withdrawn author have started legal action in Manhattan to force a recall of what they claim is a “copycat book.” It’s not clear yet whether JD California has his own catcher to help him from falling off the edge of some crazy cliff…

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Literary Chicago’s Spring Bloom

blog_pegasusChicago’s lit world emerges from a long winter with two notable events next week: The Poetry Foundation will present its 2009 Pegasus Awards on May 19th to Fanny Howe, who will receive the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize (along with $100,000), and to Ange Mlinko, winner of the Randall Jarrell Award in Poetry Criticism (Mlinko’s contributed to the first-annual 20 Interviews issue of STOP SMILING); meanwhile, the second-annual Pilcrow Lit Fest will host readings, panels and gatherings focused on small press publishing May 17th-23rd throughout the city.

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The Second Pass

picture-2One negative effect of the split-second, hyperactive stream of content spewed forth by the Internet is the near-immediate rate with which one bit of information replaces the next, creating an innate element of forgetting; a new book review site, The Second Pass, launched by frequent STOP SMILING contributor John Williams, battles against this effect by not only reviewing books that are new and hot, but also revisiting older obscure and out-of-print books that are both completely relevant to contemporary literate discourse and much easier to acquire via online search tools than they once were; along with reviews of classic-but-oft-forgotten books like Eve’s Hollywood and Michael Herr’s Dispatches (as well as of new books), The Second Pass features a very smart book blog and an edited section of book suggestions from readers; the site is an example of how innovative bookworms can use the Web to counterbalance all those vanishing newspaper book sections in a way that might even improve upon the dying breed’s model.

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What’s Love Got to Do with It?

blog_flowersAs the saccharine taste of mid-February develops, tales of bastardized un-love assume strangely attractive qualities: Slate presents an outstanding analysis of the PR crisis that Portland Mayor Sam Adams finds himself in after a steamy fling, and its author wonders if the political fallout would have not been more severe had the city’s chief been involved in a heterosexual tryst; famously uncuddly odd-couple Israel and (occupied) Palestine shared a tender moment as Israel fleetingly unparalyzed exports from Gaza to allow a shipment of 25,000 carnations bound for European lovers just in time for V-Day; and the current issue of The Believer features an interview with Mary Gaitskill (whose short story was adapted into the Sundance darling The Secretary) in which Gaitskill, with all due respect to her husband, admits her desire for a wife because they have been traditionally so helpful to writers. -SS

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The Mindbending Developments of Digital Books

blog_cell_phoneDo you love staring at tiny electronic screens? Google and Amazon sure hope so, as they’ve begun to concentrate efforts to format digitized versions of books so they are readable on mobile phones — can’t stand the weight of 700 pages of Dostoyevsky on your legs? Plan on digesting In Search of Lost Time in fifteen minute increments during your subway commute? There’s your solution (does David Lynch feel the same way about reading books on iPhones as he does about watching films on them?); meanwhile, Robert Darnton, the head of the Harvard library system, pens a stern, thoughtful warning to the public in the New York Review of Books that we must stay vigilant of Google’s commercial interests as a recent class action lawsuit settlement will likely allow it to begin to build what is essentially the largest library in the world. Ever.

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The Ghost of Christmas Verse

blog_angell4The New York Times offers a meditation on and an announcement of the triumphant return of the New Yorker’s usually annual holiday poem, “Greetings, Friends!” The page of cheerful verse has dropped the names of the year’s notable characters (this year includes Ben Bernake, Bristol Palin, Lebron James and Christian Bale, among many more) since 1932, when the magazine was still under the stewardship of founder HW Ross, a primer about whom appeared in the STOP SMILING Downfall of American Publishing Issue; New Yorker baseball writer and editor Roger Angell has scribed the piece since 1976, but has put the poem on hiatus since 1998 for lack of inspiration.

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Where’s the Latin Love?

Though the hearts of Latin American literature enthusiasts have been aflutter lately in response to the heaps of excitement surrounding Roberto Bolano — and the prospect of that attention bringing about a renaissance of Spanish-language lit in the States akin to that of the 1960s — the lists of “best books of 2008″ that have begun to emerge show Bolano largely alone among mostly English texts; Bookslut editor Jessa Crispin notes in the introduction to her NPR’s “Best Foreign Books of 2008,” which includes Horacio Castellanos-Moya’s Senselessness, that Nobel Prize judge Horace Engdahl’s criticism of American publishers being uninterested in translations is difficult to refute; meanwhile, as the US scratches its head over California’s passage of Proposition 8, Mexican transvestites in Oaxaca are living fabulously with the blessings of their community.

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