Archives for category: Literature

Challenge yourself this spring! Friends of TED in Austin, TX offers a great class for those who enjoy reading classics. It’s led by an English professor of UT-Austin, and he often invites guest speakers (scholars, most!) to speak about a particular aspect of the book, its historical context, or its author. The literature is always wonderful and the discussion is lively. I learn something new every time.

This spring the class will cover several titles by George Eliot. If you’re in the Austin, TX area, read up and come on out!

 

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.

 

 

“Read, read, read. Read everything.” –William Faulkner

Last summer I spent a lot of time reading. I read for many hours each week. I read Beloved (Morrison), August Light (Faulkner), Jane Eyre (Bronte), To the Lighthouse (Woolf), and a number of others. My favorite was The Ice Palace, a short novel by an author I’d never encountered before–the inimitable Tarjei Vesaas of Norway.

What prompted this literary journey, you ask? I discovered a course–a free course–on Coursera.org. I thought, “That sounds interesting. I’ll give it a try.” The course was called The Fiction of Relationship. It was taught by Professor Arnold Weinstein of Brown University. And it was amazing. The professor is amazing. The content is wonderful. I credit this course with reawakening my love of reading, which in turn inspired me to start writing this blog.

I’m telling you about this because I just learned that Coursera is offering the class again! It’s happening right now. Officially, it began a week ago, but you may still be able to enroll at coursera.org. (And, no, no one asked me to promote this. I just think it’s a genuinely great class.)