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Archives: September 2008

If You See A Mixed Metaphor, Say Something!

images.jpegSarah Palin made a big splash in the spiderwebs of the Internets last night, mixing metaphors about political leaders and warplanes. BoingBoing linked to an illustrated version of this quote:

“As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska.”

Just like Calculated Risk catches wild similes in the financial press, you should be the first line of defense against the rising tide of purple prose. As guardians of the printed word, GalleyCat readers should monitor these breaches of metaphorical boundaries. Or maybe we should encourage them, in the interest of literary innovation.

Either way, email us your favorite contorted figures of speech from this madcap election season for one mind-bending post.

Mark Batterson: Behind Personal Development, God’s Power

“I feel as called to write as I am to pastor,” Mark Batterson said as we at a table outside Ebenezers, the Washington, D.C., coffeehouse owned and operated by the National Community Church. He’s just published Wild Goose Chase, his second Christian inspirational book with Random House‘s Multnomah division, after years of preliminary effort; he estimated that, once he hit upon the dream of writing while in the seminary, he started and dropped a half dozen different book projects before finally finishing one. He self-published that book as an experiment; “it’s pretty much available on and that’s about it,” he smiled. Things really kicked into gear when Multnomah signed up In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day—which, like Wild Goose Chase, effectively uses the themes and language of secular self-helo literature, then adds a layer of religion. Yes, it’s important to seize opportunities and to pursue your passions, Batterson says, but for what higher purpose? Where, he asks, did that desire for adventure originate in our souls?

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The Unofficial John Berryman Rock & Roll Concordance

berryman.jpgWhy do rock stars love a thick-bearded Minnesotan poet who killed himself in 1972?

Over at MSP Magazine, the poet John Berryman gets a thoughtful profile–speculating that the author of The Dream Songs is “poised for revival.”

One footnote mentions recent indie rock songs that reference the poet. As a public service, GalleyCat has collected those four artists and songs into The Unofficial John Berryman Rock & Roll Concordance. Visit these sites to create a literary mixtape:

Start with The Hold Steady in the song, “Stuck Between Stations.”

Then, listen to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds in the song, “We Call Upon The Author.”

And then, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah in the song, “Mama, Won’t You Keep Them Castles in the Air and Burning?”

And finally, check out Okkervil River‘s masterpiece, “John Allyn Smith Sails.” (Thanks, Fimoculous)

Writers Continue to Show Support for Obama

barack-obama-withbook.jpgBack on Monday, we heard about Ayelet Waldman‘s Books4Barack drive, which wound up raising more than $57,000 for Barack Obama‘s presidential campaign in less than a week. Response to the fundraiser—which provided a bag of ten signed books by a random assortment of authors in exchange for a $250 donation—was so overwhelming that Waldman finally had to admit she was in over her head: “My house looks like a cross between a fulfillment center and Gray Gardens,” she reported yesterday, announcing the program’s closure.

But Obama has other supporters in America’s literary communities. On October 5, Dave Eggers, Daniel Handler, Ann Packer, Tom Perrotta, George Saunders, Jane Smiley, and Abraham Verghese will take part at a Sunday brunch reading at the San Francisco home of Ellen Sussman. Nearby, on October 16, novelist Robert Mailer Anderson hosts a reading with Isabel Allende, Tamim Ansary, Michael Chabon, Anne Lamott and Tobias Wolff.

New York City’s literati are getting into the game as well: On October 4, Salman Rushdie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Kiran Desai, Suketu Mehta, Manil Suri, and Akhil Sharma are headlining a reception at Le Poisson Rouge.

As always, if any authors are going to similar lengths for the on-again, off-again campaign of John McCain, we’ll be happy to mention them here. It’s actually a bit surprising: We would’ve thought to have heard of a few political thriller writers, at least, would’ve casted their lot with McCain by now and put together some show of support.

Mark Twain Draws Support Across American Literary Landscape


Earlier this week, GalleyCat told you about the efforts to save Mark Twain‘s Connecticut home. It’s said that Tuesday night’s all-star reading at the Mark Twain House and Museum went well. The authors who volunteered to take part in the event are (starting at the left) Arthur Phillips, Phillip Beard, Amy MacKinnon, Jon Clinch, David Gates, Tasha Alexander, Tom Perotta, Robert Hicks, Phillip Lopate, Kristy Kiernan, and Stewart O’Nan, joined at the far right by the museum’s executive director, Jeffrey Nichols.

The museum’s financial problems are not over yet, though, and the fundraising drive continues.

Exclusive Interview with Jeffrey Friedman, Director of Howl

Howl.jpegNext year, a star-studded cast–James Franco, Alan Alda, Jeff Daniels, Mary-Louise Parker and Paul Rudd–will dramatize the literary life and times of Allen Ginsberg in the biopic, Howl.

After a summer dominated by superhero blockbusters, it seems somewhat quixotic to make movie heroes out of poets and literary critics. The film also faces the daunting task of getting the Internet generation excited about a 50-year-old poem.

Intrigued, GalleyCat caught up with Howl‘s co-director Jeffrey Friedman. In this exclusive interview, the veteran director of the documentary Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt wasn’t worried:

“We’ve been surprised by the number of young people who have told us not only that they are familiar with the poem, but that it means a lot to them. A generation accustomed to being bombarded with random sensational imagery will be able to easily keep up with our animated reinterpretation of the poem–a dreamlike world of madness and monsters, burning oilfields and cosmic orgasms.”

More after the jump…

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Housing Works Moves Street Fair to Sunday

If you were planning to come into Manhattan tomorrow to find some bargains at the fourth annual Housing Works Bookstore Café “Open Air Book Fair,” be advised: the inclement weather has led the store to move the sale to Sunday afternoon. Now you’ve got some strategizing to do: Come early and catch the first wave of “more than ten thousand books, records and CDs, DVDs and VHS for a dollar a piece”? Or wait until late afternoon, when you can stop inside the store for a group reading by American and Slovenian poets co-sponsored by Ugly Duckling Presse and Literatura magazine?

Seth Godin Gets the Business Week Treatment

sethgodin-actionfigure.jpgBusiness Week profiles marketing super-expert Seth Godin on the eve of the publication of his latest book, Tribes. Though some critics dismiss his writing as overfluffy, and his arguments lack sufficient evidence, supporters say his “breezy” voice is a perfect fit for the contemporary market; as he himself puts it, “The big win is when I say something that’s just vague enough that it’s useful, but people think I wrote it just for them.” (Full disclosure: At least half of what GalleyCat understands about marketing is ripped straight out of Godin’s playbooks, and anybody who dreams about writing a book or working in publishing should read The Dip very thoughtfully.)

In just about a month, Godin will be launching Tribes with an early morning presentation at the TimesCenter in midtown Manhattan, where people who bought the book in advance and other fans—as well as some lucky folks who’ll score free tickets just by asking for them—will be invited to hear a new presentation—and to bring their digital video cameras with them, so they can post it online afterwards… something we’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for.

Wall Street Bailout Books

200px-JohnSteinbeck_TheGrapesOfWrath.jpgAs news of a possible Wall Street bailout agreement hit the wires, journalists and editors wondered how history will remember these dark days.

Over at HarperStudio, Julia Cheiffetz is editing a finance book by journalist Anna Bernasek, but she keeps quizzing her author for insight into the current crisis. Instead of predictions, Bernasek focuses on a gloomy hypothetical question: “who will ultimately bear the financial losses[?]”

Browsing through the 25 Harshest Reactions to the Wall Street Bailout, you can see the contours of an epic tome about politics, back-room deals, and monumental consequences. It could be a Daily Show coffee table book, a post-apocalyptic thriller, or a grim John Steinbeck novel. So far, the two best book titles are: The Greatest Depression (from New York magazine) and The Bailout of All Bailouts (from former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich).

How will writers tell this story when the first wave of financial books hit shelves next year?

Poetry G.P.S.

globe.jpgIt’s 2:30 pm. Do you know where your poets are?

Poets have always struggled for recognition, fighting small print runs, an indifferent reading public, and the general impossibility making a living with poetry. Worst of all, most people don’t even know where to find poetry when they need it.

Over at the Poetic Asides blog, Robert Lee Brewer is compiling a meta-directory of poetry event listings around the United States. Want poetry? Use this highly scientific Poetry G.P.S. to find a reading near you. Start in New York. Head to Chicago. Then go south to Atlanta.

Check the crowded comments section for more directories from other cities, including Pittsburgh and Dublin. (Thanks, Practicing Writer)