Nikil Saval reads Cubed with Chad Harbach

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Wednesday, April 30th, 2014 | 1,840 views

Nikil Saval reads from his new book Cubed with Chad Harbach

Over the last century, labor has shifted away from a manual as a dominant form towards clerical office work. Nikil Saval’s book, Cubed, traces the history of this evolution and explores the limits of the office as a place for work. He celebrated the launch of the book at Powerhouse Arena with Chad Harbach, editor of the journal n+1 and author of The Art of Fielding (2011).

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Cara Hoffman, Helen Benedict, and Katey Schultz Talk War Stories

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Friday, April 25th, 2014 | 1,966 views

Cara Hoffman, Helen Benedict, and Katey Schultz Talk War Stories at Word in Brooklyn

Traditional war stories have long featured male protagonists by default. But modern war has meant female soldiers serving alongside their male counterparts. Brooklyn’s WORD Bookstore brought together three authors to talk about their war story books books featuring female soldiers. Cara Hoffman’s new novel, Be Safe I Love you (April 2014) explores the family life of a returning war veteran readjusting. Katey Schultz’s collection Flashes of War (2013) contains a mix of flash fiction and short stories. Helen Benedict has spent several years interviewing soldiers and victims of war resulting in a play, a non-fiction book, and a trilogy. She read from Sand Queen (2011), a novel of two opposing narratives, one an Iraqi medical student caught in a war prison and the other a soldier prison guard.

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A Case for Comedy

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Monday, April 21st, 2014 | 2,795 views

An art form that correlates well with poetry is standup comedy. Such connections are not often made in classrooms or seen on TV classrooms. In my courses, I reference movies or shows in order to connect the more “popular” examples to assigned short stories. Such comparisons are obvious and in no way novel since all of these forms use character and plot. When teaching poetry, many instructors typically compare poetic verse to song lyrics, and I do this, too. Who can’t think of at least one example of the English teacher rapping Shakespeare? (I do not do this). Although this comparison works on many levels, music still, well, uses music: a creation of melodies through instruments, whereas poetry only relies on its words to create tone, cadence, and rhythm—no other sounds accompany it. Thus, the art of standup translates more easily to poetry.

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Second Downtown Literary Festival: A Collective (Abbreviated) Review

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Thursday, April 17th, 2014 | 2,663 views

Tobias Carroll hosts The Greatest 3-Minute Bad Apartment Stories at Housing Works Bookstore Café

At a time when the independent bookstore has been under scrutiny—Julie Bosman of The New York Times, most notably, investigated whether the burgeoning rent costs would drive sellers out of Manhattan—McNally Jackson Books and Housing Works joined together to host the Second Annual Downtown Literary Festival on Sunday, April 13th. Though there were moments when the young age of the festival showed a bit (some events were simply more organized and better prepared than others), the joint McNally Jackson and Housing Works production succeeded in displaying the vibrant literary culture that still exists around Houston Street, adding, in its own way, to the recent trend of criticism and analyses that has centered on Manhattan as the “Writer Mecca” of the United States.

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Akhil Sharma Reads Family Life with George Packer

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Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 | 2,118 views

Akhil Sharma reads Family Life at Center for Fiction

Twelve and a half years and seven thousand pages later, Akhil Sharma’s second novel, Family Life, has been released to rave reviews from places like The New York Times. George Packer, staff writer at the The New Yorker joined Sharma at the Center for Fiction to discuss the novel, a fictionalized, semi-autobiographical account of Sharma’s early life.

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The War of the Words

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Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 | 2,431 views


In one of his classic comedy bits, George Carlin opines that the U.S. is a nation inherently obsessed with war to the degree that we have prescribed it as the cure for everything. We have declared, in the past 60 years, a war on drugs, a war on poverty, a war on cancer, and a war on terror, among others. All problems are seen as conflicts, a collective pitted against some threatening other. Often the other is conveniently difficult to identify or locate. Nevertheless there is a threat and the only response is to do battle with that threat. This ultimate fighting champion mindset seems, like cat hair, to cling to every metaphorical article of clothing in our walk-in closet.

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A Tale of Teaching and Writing (in Parentheticals)

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Monday, April 14th, 2014 | 1,855 views

Remember what you’re here for, my professors repeated during my two years enrolled in the Rutgers-Newark MFA program. Do not permit teaching responsibilities to interfere with writing, they would say. Their words echoed in my adjunct office, bouncing back and forth between concrete walls (there were no windows; it looked like a glorious prison cell). I felt as if I was hiding a shameful secret when I nodded along to their sage words. But here it is in print now: I felt as passionately about teaching as I did about writing, and on many occasions (please don’t tell them), I did let teaching trump writing; I was still learning the program’s requirements and the students’ abilities (or lack thereof) as well as my own (or lack thereof works here, too). I felt I was there for both (like the true rebel that I am).

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Bernardine Evaristo reads Mr. Loverman with Chris Abani and Colin Channer

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Friday, April 11th, 2014 | 2,225 views

Bernadine Evaristo, Chris Abani, Colin Channer

Bernadine Evaristo launched her latest novel, Mr. Loverman, at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn. She was joined by Chris Abani who read from his latest novel, The Secret History of Las Vegas (January 2014). Colin Channer facilitated the discussion.

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