Odd Words January 6, 2011Posted by Mark Folse in Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
Last week I wrote about Bary Hannah,and someone sent me this link to a NYT reviewer’s take on the Long, Last, Happy.
I accept their criticisms of his iconic treatment of conventional plotting but I wonder myself if conventional narrative is essential. I just watched the film Crash and had a long discussion about it revolving around the idea that it was a story born of story boards, the creation first of characters and the situations that defined them and then the arrangement into a narrative that came not so much as an afterthought but as something born of those character and the situations, an assemblage of flash fiction nuggets into a narrative that ultimately works. Perhaps that worked so well here because it was a collaborative process, a collage assembled by many hands saying “no, no, this goes here”, something natural to Hollywood and the making of film.
In the end, what matters is that the work is engaging, opens a door to another world. For the purposes of pure providing the reader escape from their mundane life conventional narrative is as essential as the conventions of sitcom or daytime drama. If one’s purpose is the transformation of perspective, the opening of doors in the readers’ mind they did not know were there perhaps a disordering of conventional expectation about narrative is essential. If the goal is to take the expectations of a Southern Writer and to smash them and assemble something new out of the pieces, it’s perfect.
And so, to the listings.
§ UPDATE A new reading series hosted by Thaddeus Conti, tonight (Saturday) at 7 a the Jupiter Gallery across from the R-Bar. I was at a birthday party for Jonathan Kline and was told about it but forgot to write down who was reading. I carry a pen and notebook for a reason, or could have put it in the phone but the party was too much fun.
§ The first reading of the year at the Latter Library will be on Saturday, January 8th. The reading will happen at 2pm before the Saints play Seattle. The featured poets are Megan Burns, Jonathan Kline and Joseph Makkos. These readings are organized by another fantastic poet and contributor to A Howling in the Wires, Gina Ferrara.
§ On Sunday, January 9th Poet Bob Matlock reads from his work, followed by an open mike at the Maple Leaf Bar, 3-ish. No Saints game this Sunday so it should be peaceful on the patio.
§ Catholic school children were spared both Louisiana History and Health classes, so I had no idea there was a major slave revolt in New Orleans in 1811, but consider that I lived through (as a small child) the ugly days of New Orleans’ Resegratation in the early 1960s (which at least partly explains why I was in Catholic school). I call it resegratation because that’s precisely what happened, the erection of new structures to defeat attempts to desegregate the schools and we live everyday with the results of the creation of educational Bantustans. I may not make the signing, but apparently I know more about the slave uprising in Naiti than I do in my own state, so even if I miss this the book goes on the list. Garden District Books will host a discussion and signing of American Uprising: The Untold Story of America’s Largest Slave Revolt by Dan Rasmussen Jan. 8 from 1-3 p.m.
§ Maple Street Bookstore is starting a book discussion group for writers, focusing on books about writing starting on January 10th. First up: read and discuss Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. You’ll receive a 10% discount on the book if you purchase it at Maple and join the circle! I’m not anxious to quite The Rumpus online poetry book club, which already sets be back $20 a month for a pre-publication title, but this sounds interesting.
§ In a similar vein Garden District Books will feature The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published. So if you’re got a manuscript or even just a good idea you can drop by and give a one minute to pitch your book ideas to a once-in-a-lifetime, all-star cast of publishing experts, including Arielle Eckstut & David Henry Sterry, co-founders of The Book Doctors and co-authors of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published; Kathleen Nettleton of prestigious Pelican Publishing; and Susan Larson, author, ex-book editor of The New Orleans Times-Picayune who now hosts The Reading Life on WWNO-FM, is vice president for programming of the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Just keep in mind that your chances of success fall somewhere between those of an American Idol contestant and those of the kids up the street at Stalling Park who want to play in the NBA. My recommendation, buy the book on writing at Octavia and Write Like a Motherfucker.
§ New Orleans is a town in love with its history of burlesque, with what seems a half-dozen troops of artists practicing that art of erotic dance. So its no surprise that Octavia Books would host author Karren Abbott and her book AMERICAN ROSE: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee. You have to love the Oscar Wilde quote on the store’s home page announcing this event: ““America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.” January 15 at 6 p.m. at Octavia Books which is of course on Octavia Street.