January 26, 2010


So contrary to all expectation, I DID get that to-do done yesterday, and trudged back to my bed at 3:17 AM in the morning from the cold, cold studio. Which meant that today was respite and recharging. Specifically, I read Joanna Smith Rakoff's A Fortunate Age. 400 pages! Whew. The experience of truly stepping into the lives of multiple characters, followed over a span of many years, was both engrossing and exhausting. I enjoyed the book, melancholy as some of the storylines were, but it made me realize I've fallen out of the habit of reading long form. I tend to choose poetry, short story collections, or full-length nonfiction (that only tends to run 200 pages or so). This was whole-grain reading: slow to digest, but worth it.

The real world is starting to extend its siren call. Here are three events on the radar for the near future:

Saturday, January 30 - 7:30 PM at the Writer's Center in Bethesda, MD ($20 ticket) / 33rd Birthday Celebration with Pagan Kennedy and Carolyn Forche

Pagan Kennedy is the author of ten books in a variety of genres - from cultural history to biography to the novel. Her most recent novel, Confessions of a Memory Eater, was featured in Entertainment Weekly as an “EW pick.” Another novel, Spinsters, was short-listed for the Orange Prize. She also has been the recipient of a Barnes and Noble Discover Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and a Smithsonian Fellowship for science writing.

Carolyn Forché is the author of four books of poetry: Blue Hour; The Angel of History, which received the Los Angeles Times Book Award; The Country Between Us, which received the Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, and was the Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets; and Gathering the Tribes, which was selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets by Stanley Kunitz. She is also the editor of Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness.

Two amazing authors in support of the great cause, The Writer's Center. And speaking of big names...

Tuesday, February 2 - 8 PM Reading at Georgetown University in Washington, DC / The Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice presents John Ashberry

(Location: Copley Formal Lounge)

John Ashbery was born in Rochester, New York in 1927. His Notes from the Air: Selected Later Poems won the 2008 Griffin International Prize for Poetry. The Library of America published the first volume of his Collected Poems in fall 2008. Planisphere, his latest volume of new poetry, was published by Ecco/HarperCollins in December 2009.

..and finally, the upcoming literary event nearest and dearest to my heart:

Wednesday, February 10 - 7 PM at the Arts Club of Washington at 2017, I St. NW / Rising Stars: Fiction Writers Dylan Landis and Joanna Smith Rakoff

Join the Arts Club as we host Dylan Landis and Joanna Smith Rakoff, two of our brightest contemporary talents, to celebrate their works of debut fiction. Readings will be followed by a question and answer session, then a light reception and booksigning. This free public event is part of an ongoing series at the Arts Club.

Dylan Landis is the author of the novel-in-stories Normal People Don't Live Like This, a Newsday Best Book of 2009 and finalist for the Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction. Landis, a former newspaper reporter, has published stories in Bomb, Tin House, and Best American Nonrequired Reading. Honors for her work include a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Poets & Writers Exchange Award. She lives in Washington, DC.

Joanna Smith Rakoff is the author of A Fortunate Age, one of Booklist’s Top Ten Debut Novels of 2009—a winner of the Elle Readers’ Prize, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and a Barnes and Noble’s First Look Book Club selection. She has written for many publications including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Vogue; her poetry has appeared in The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, and other journals. She lives in New York City.

Elizabeth Strout, 2009 Pulitzer-Prize winner for Fiction, called Landis’s NORMAL PEOPLE DON’T LIVE LIKE THIS “a wonderful, intriguing and original debut.” Booklist, in a starred review, praised Smith Rakoff’s A FORTUNATE AGE for its “heartbreaking clarity.”

THE ARTS CLUB OF WASHINGTON is at 2017 I Street NW, near Foggy Bottom/GWU and Farragut West metro. Headquartered in the James Monroe House, a National Historic Landmark, the Club was founded in 1916 and is the oldest non-profit arts organization in the city. The Club’s mission is to foster public appreciation for the arts through educational programs that include literary events, art exhibitions, musical and theatrical performances.


Kyle said...

I didn't realize John Ashbery was born in Rochester! Score one for my hometown.

Jessie Carty said...

wow! great line up :)