Archives for category: festivals

A month ago I volunteered at the Texas Book Festival. As an author escort, I met several authors and listened to their talks. My favorite event was with Eimear McBride, author of the prize-winning novel A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing, and Elizabeth McCracken, whose recent collection Thunderstruck & Other Stories is highly regarded.

I bought the last available copy of A Girl at the festival, but I haven’t had a chance to dig into it yet. I’m feeling a little intimidated by it because reviewers (all of whom seem to love the novel) mention Joycean influence (please let it not be as hard to read as Ulysses, which defeated me) and also compare the writing to Faulkner’s. I think it’s an easy comparison based on the fact that McBride employed a difficult stream-of-consciousness style. But more about that book once I’ve read it.

McBride had a hard time getting the book published. She tried for years before giving up. When it did happen, it was via a local bookseller who was starting his own press. He asked to read her manuscript after a casual conversation with McBride’s husband, who mentioned that his wife had a fantastic manuscript that no publisher was willing to take on. I was so impressed by her story and by the initiative of the bookseller that I began wondering about local indie publishers in general. So I researched and found several indie publishers in Austin that I didn’t know before.

A Strange Object caught my interest as they focus on “surprising, heartbreaking fiction.” Sounds promising. Their most recent title, Our Secret Life in the Movies, was released in October and has received rave reviews. I’m ordering it and can’t wait to read it.

Foxing Quarterly publishes a literary and arts journal that also seems worth checking out. I love that they include a variety of genres and modes of expression. Writers take note: they are accepting unsolicited manuscripts.

Timber Mouse Publishing focuses on spoken word poetry: “Our goal is to promote and give voice to the latest and finest artists of spoken word poetry by building a community to print books, cut records, promote . . . ” They help host and promote some great literary events around town. They also are accepting manuscripts.

Are there indie publishers in your town? Please share in the comments. I’d love to check out their offerings.

 

 

Artprize! I’ve been hearing about this art festival for several years, and I made a last-minute trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan in mid-October to catch the end of it. It was a great time! There were impressive works on display, including paintings, sculptures, music, installations, and even some interactive exhibits. There was one piece that had live bees in it! The artist had mounted paintings in a huge glass box. On the paintings, he painted sugar water, which the bees consumed and used to build hives and honeycombs in the installation. That’s something you don’t see every day.

This year Artprize had about 1,200 artworks on display in venues across downtown Grand Rapids, from the city’s art museum to tiny coffee shops. It seemed like nearly every business downtown had registered as a venue and arranged an exhibit. It really is amazing, and it draws some great artists, because the top cash prizes are $200,000 each (one public vote, one juried). And there are several other cash prizes as well. I could go on and on about it, but instead, I’ll share a few photos (regrettably poor ones–sorry!)

Tesserae by Michael Kellner

Tesserae by Michael Kellner

Gun Country by Michael Murphy

Gun Country by Michael Murphy

Intersections by Anila Quayyum Agha

Intersections by Anila Quayyum Agha

Self-Portrait as Bunnies (The Bather) by Alex Podesta

Self-Portrait as Bunnies (The Bather) by Alex Podesta

This piece is a carved wood sculpture. No stains or paints were used; the woods used were naturally those colors!

This piece is a carved wood sculpture. No stains or paints were used; the woods used were naturally those colors!

Japanese papercut by Solo + Kojima

Japanese papercut by Solo + Kojima