Second Downtown Literary Festival: A Collective (Abbreviated) Review

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Thursday, April 17th, 2014 | 3,177 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 | 2,755 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 | 2,937 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 | 2,357 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 | 2,978 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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Douglas Watson Reads A Moody Fellow Finds Love and Then Dies

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Friday, April 11th, 2014 | 1,932 views

Douglas Watson reads his novel A Moody Fellow Finds Love and Then Dies

Douglas Watson celebrated the release of his novel A Moody Fellow Finds Love and Then Dies at WORD bookstore in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Watson is a local and the store offered a fitting place for him to launch the novel; much of the novel was workshopped in the very room with the Greenpoint Writers Group. The workshop is run through WORD.

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Contradictions in the American Dream from a First-Generation American Writer

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Monday, April 7th, 2014 | 3,073 views

My grandfather, Luigino Adamo, sold most of what he had in the summer of 1957 to buy four one way tickets for a boat to America. He landed with only the Italian language and a fifth grade education. Born in the southern Italian farming town of San Mango D’Aquino, Calabria, his first destination was a relative’s farm in Pennsylvania. After working with them for three months without seeing financial results, Luigino took his family to Brooklyn and set about finding work. As an uneducated laborer, his options revolved around factory work, plumber assistantships, and gardener positions. He worked, saved, and looked toward his future. By 1958, he acquired a part-time, seasonal job in a cemetery that would eventually turn into a full-time gravedigger position and then a heavy equipment operator.

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Rachel Urquhart Reads The Visionist with Elissa Schappell

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Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 | 1,735 views

Rachel Urquhart Reads The Visionist with Elissa Schappell, co-founder and editor of Tin House at Community Bookstore in Park Slope Brooklyn

Pacifist, celibate, and highly religious, the Shakers are perhaps best remembered for their furniture. But they also possessed a fascination with the mysticism surrounding teenage girls who spoke tongues. Two of these teenage girls are the focus of Rachel Urquhart’s new novel The Visionist. She was joined by Tin House co-founder Elissa Schappell at Community Bookstore to talk about the novel and the Shaker influence.

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