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Mira Bartók on Fresh Air

Mira Bartók, who contibuted the excellent non-fiction piece Nine Valleys in One Twilight to ACM49, was on Fresh Air with Terry Gross last Tuesday. Bartók spoke with Gross about dealing with the traumatic brain injury she suffered in 1999 and how that experience led her to reconnect with her schitzophrenic mother. Upon finding her after not having spoken to her for 15 years, Bartók learned that her mother only had a few months to live. This experience led her to write The Memory Palace, a memoir about how her brain injury and new life as a result changed the way she understood her relationship with her mother. (h/t The Millions)

Three Things I Love

• My favorite literary prize of the year was recently announced. Rowan Sommerville bested the likes of Jonathan Franzen, Adam Ross, and Christos Tsiolkas in this year's Bad Sex in Fiction Award. He was awarded for his ability to craft gems like this:

Like a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect with a too blunt pin he screwed himself into her.

I don't know how you make love, but for me, it's pretty much exactly like that.

• The fantstic Winter's Bone collected seven Spirit award nominations.

The Millions have started their annual "A Year In Reading." The project stands apart from typical year end lists as it offers writers and readers an opportunity to just write about books they loved and discovered over the previous year, unconfined to a set yearly release date, as opposed to the staid "Top 20" lists.

Women all standing with shock on their faces.

Patti Smith's Just Kids won the National Book Award for nonfiction. Is anyone surprised? I don't think so. Come on now, it's Patti Smith! Jaimy Gordon's Lord of Misrule won for fiction. Released just two days ago by McPherson & Company, a small press (!!!), you can read an excerpt here.

Three Things

You can go to the new Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library come January in Indianapolis if you want. They have an unopened letter from Vonnegut to his son that he wrote during his internment in a German prison camp in WWII. The letter, however, remains unopened. So I guess you can go and admire a brief sampling of his penmanship on the exterior of the envelope, because that is interesting.

Nancy Smith at The Rumpus has started reviewing literary magazines. There have been two thus far since October, and so far have covered two of the better known mags, Ploughshares and Zoetrope: All-Story. I look forward to Rumpusarians continuing this series, and perhaps picking out some more obscure titles (not a shameless plea for attention).

New York Magazine has a fascinating article detailing the newest shenanigans of James"he who pissed off Oprah" Frey." The article details the circumspect deals Frey has young writers sign to shell out Young Adult titles under "co-authorship".

"One of my favorite poets reviews a recent release by another" or "Damian Rogers on Suzanne Buffam's 'The Irrationalist'"

Click here to read a lucid and compelling review of Suzanne Buffam's wonderful Canarium Books release The Irrationalist.

My personal favorite moment in the review is also Rogers' big finish: "I like what Buffam says in these poems, but more than that, I get off on how they operate on my consciousness. All over the world, chemists strive to perfect pharmaceutical formulas so that they can pack into a pill the kind of clear, elevated sensation that Buffam produces with words on paper." This is the sort of poetry we need more of! This is the sort of poetry we want to publish in ACM!

What We Are Doing When We Are Quiet

ACM's been busy combing through final proofs of our first volume of the Chicago issue. We are so excited for this! So excited that we forgot about the internet. We even forgot about pizza. It's all worth it, though, because we'll soon have our precious babies from the printer's in the coming weeks.

The internet went on without us. The Rumpus has been on a roll with posting great things to mull over. I'm looking at you, Sam Twyford-Moore's essay on depression, Ricky Moody's interview with shoe-seller Lauren, and Alex Lemon's "King of the Rats".

Our fair city recently launched two literary-minded websites: Chicago Publishes and CAR-Literary. Both seem to be robust and comprehensive, like coverage of the Paris Review's Lorin Stein's and Stop Smiling's JC Gabel's recent discussion at Maxim's (whoa howdy, apostrophes!). Chicago Publishes even has a Tumblr. (h/t Chicagoist)

More Bits

Just in time for the anniversary of Ted Hughes's death, Mark Ford over at the blog for The New York Review of Books posted about Hughes's "Last Letter". The draft of Hughes's last poem, written for his collection about Sylvia Plath, Birthday Letters, surfaced in the New Statesman a few weeks ago.

The Millions posted "The Paper-Reader's Dilemma" last week in the column, The Future of the Book. I am still thinking about my reading habits and how it would change if I had a Kindle or iPad. I buy a new or used book once or twice a week, but it's no surprise to see me reading on my phone. I am sentimentally attached to my paperbacks and hardcovers, but I would be lost without my BlackBerry. I don't see e-readers as a novelty but a different way of doing something I enjoy. There are books and PADDs on Star Trek! And that's the future!

It is also Mean Week at HTMLGiant.


If you're into it, you can buy books from Anne Rice's personal library over at Powell's. If one were to buy a book from an admired or beloved writer, would you read it like any book at all or keep it as a souvenir, a relic, something to be held in awe? This is kind of weird, yet awesome, no?

For the visually-inclined bibliophile, there's Bookshelf Porn to browse through. A lot of beauts like the recent post of Karl Lagerfeld's two story collection in his studio.

Weekend Reading

The weather's a picturesque autumnal in Chicago right now: not a cloud, lovely shade of blue, a breeze, warming sun. A good time to sit outside and read. The Arts Beat blog at the NY Times posted some short stories from Wes Anderson's, Owen Wilson's, and Colum McCann's undergrad careers at UT Austin. Print 'em out (or use a fancy iPad or internet device, whatever you want), read while sitting in a pile of crunchy leaves, think about bugs crawling around in the grass and said pile of crunchy leaves, feel twee.

This Recording posted excerpts from Elias Canetti's notebooks. Pretty pleasant.

A good chunk of ACMers ride bicycles as a primary mode of transportation. William Fotheringham posted a list of his picks for ten novels about cycling at The Guardian. A trip to the library may be in order.


Here are a few things you should be reading:

Esquire does a big piece on writer Phillip Roth, who is not Jonathan Franzen.

Howard Jacobson wins the Man Booker prize, for his novel The Finkler Question beating out  the house favorite C by Tom McCarthy, the book everyone in the UK placed bets on last Wednesday to win the Booker, because I guess there is nothing better to do in England than gambling (and loosing) on literary awards.

More stuff about the guy who punched Gabriel García Márquez here. (h/t Second Pass)