I’m moderating two panels at community bookstore.
The first one is on Middlemarch. I’ll talk about one of the best books of all time with Rebecca Mead (My Life in Middlemarch) and Kathryn Schulz (book critic for NY Magazine) this coming Thursday (4/24) at 7pm.
Next Tuesday, 4/29, I’ll moderate a panel on essays featuring three fantastic writers: Jessica Hendry Nelson (If Only You People Could Follow Directions), Leslie Jamison (The Empathy Exams) and Valeria Luiselli (Sidewalks).
In one sense, reading is a great waste of time. In another sense, it is a great extension of time, a way for one person to live a thousand and one lives in a single lifespan, to watch the great impersonal universe at work again and again, to watch the great personal psyche spar with it, to suffer affliction and weakness and injury, to die and watch those you love die, until the very dizziness of it all becomes a source of compassion for ourselves, and our language, which we alone created, and without which the letter that slipped under the door could never have been written, or, once in a thousand lives—is that too much to ask?—retrieved, and read. Did I mention supreme joy? That is why I read: I want everything to be okay. That’s why I read when I was a lonely kid and that’s why I read now that I’m a scared adult. It’s a sincere desire, but a sincere desire always complicates things—the universe has a peculiar reaction to our sincere desires. Still, I believe the planet on the table, even when wounded and imperfect, fragmented and deprived, is worthy of being called whole. Our minds and the universe—what else is there? Margaret Mead described intellectuals as those who are bored when they don’t have the chance to talk interestingly enough. Now a book will talk interestingly to you. George Steiner describes the intellectual as one who can’t read without a pencil in her hand. One who wants to talk back to the book, not take notes but make them: one who might write “The giraffe speaks!” in the margin. In our marginal existence, what else is there but this voice within us, this great weirdness we are always leaning forward to listen to?
I’m reading a brand spanking new essay at the Freerange Nonfiction Reading Series this evening!
LINE-UP: Mitchell S. Jackson, Leah Vincent, Robb Todd, Michele Filgate, James Yeh, Erika Anderson.
HOST: Kassi Underwood
DATE: Tuesday, April 15th
TIME: 7 p.m. - 10 p.m. Show at 7:30.
STAGE: CULTUREfix at 9 Clinton Street in the Lower East Side. F train to Delancey; J, M to Essex, B, D trains to Grand
SUGGESTED DONATION: $5 (includes raffle ticket for prizes)
Follow us on Twitter: @FreerangeReads
MITCHELL S. JACKSON is the author of Oversoul: Stories and Essays and The Residue Years: A Novel (Bloomsbury USA). He has been the recipient of fellowships from Urban Artist Initiative and The Center For Fiction. A former winner of the Hurston Wright Foundation’s award for college writers, he teaches writing at New York University and is the literary editor of Dossier Journal. He is a Portland, Oregon native who lives in Brooklyn, New York.
LEAH VINCENT is a writer and activist. The first person in her family to go to college, she earned a BA in psychology as a night student on a Presidential Scholarship at Brooklyn College before going on to earn a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School as a Pforzheimer Fellow. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Unpious and The Jewish Daily Forward. Leah is an advocate for reform within ultra-Orthodoxy and for the empowerment of former ultra-Orthodox Jews seeking a self-determined life. She is a co-producer of the It Gets Besser project and a member and board member of Footsteps, the only organization in the United States supporting formerly ultra-Orthodox individuals.
ROBB TODD, author of the collection “Steal Me for Your Stories,” has worked as journalist, columnist and editor, and his photography has been exhibited internationally. But all he really wants you to know is that he has never seen a pigeon walk backwards. Visit him at robbtodd.com.
MICHELE FILGATE is a writer, indie bookseller/events coordinator at Community Bookstore, and critic. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review, The Rumpus, Salon, Time Out New York, The Daily Beast, Poets & Writers, O,The Oprah Magazine, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Capital New York, The Star Tribune, Bookslut, The Quarterly Conversation, The Brooklyn Rail, and other publications. She lives in Brooklyn.
JAMES YEH is a founding editor and the publisher of Gigantic. His stories have appeared in NOON, BOMB Magazine, Tin House, Tank Magazine, VICE, Fence, the anthology 30 Under 30, and elsewhere. His essays, interviews, and other work have appeared or are forthcoming in the Believer, VICE, The Organist, and elsewhere. The recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and Columbia University, he was named a Center for Fiction New York City Emerging Writers Fellow in 2011. He lives in Brooklyn, where he is at work on a novel, and can be found online at jamesyeh.com or at twitter.com/jamesyeh.
ERIKA ANDERSON is an editorial assistant at Guernica Magazine and teaches for the Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Creative Nonfiction, Guernica, Interview Magazine, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights, where she co-hosts the Renegade Reading Series for emerging writers.
What I am writing is something more than mere invention; it is my duty to relate everything about this girl among thousands of others like her. It is my duty, however unrewarding, to confront her with her own existence.
TONIGHT at Housing Works Bookstore at 7pm: Cut footloose in celebration of Kevin Brockmeier’s memoir of the seventh grade, A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip, and join Kevin Brockmeier, Jen Doll, Anna Holmes, Saeed Jones, Katie Heaney, Chiara Atik, Michelle Wolf, Daniel Ralston and more for music, dancing, and readings about their own awkward middle school experiences. Presented by Buzzfeed Books and Community Bookstore. Hosted by Isaac Fitzgerald.