The library that was home last year to Corey Michael Dalton during his week-long stunt tied to Banned Books Week has been awarded a grant from the Freedom to Read Foundation's Judith F. Krug Memorial Fund.
Judith F. Krug was the founding executive director of the Freedom to Read Foundation and helped found Banned Books Week in 1982. The FTRF began awarding Banned Books Week grants in 2010 and also became an official sponsor in 2012.
The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, in the historic Emelie Building in downtown Indianapolis, was one of seven organizations nationwide to receive this award. It's the first institution devoted to an individual to receive the grant. Banned Books Week will take place from Sept. 22-28 this year.
These seven days celebrate the freedom to access information and draws attention to the harms of censorship.
"The quality of this year's application was tremendous," said FTRF Executive Director Barbara Jones. "We're confident that the chosen projects represent a range of innovative, creative ideas that will result in great events."
For this year's events, the Vonnegut Library will host an invitation juried art show and sale, hold a local writer captive in a "prison" of books, stage a First Amendment Film Festival and present a talk on "Corrupting Our Kids: The Attack on YA Literature."
Events and library admission are free to the public. Click here for more information.
The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library is a public-benefit, nonprofit organization that serves as a cultural and resource facility - all of which show characteristics of beloved writer Kurt Vonnegut. As a museum, art gallery and reading room, this library seeks to engage people, especially youth, in the written word.
The library is open daily from noon to 5 p.m. except on Wednesdays and major holidays.
A week remains for Hoosiers to submit nominations for the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Author Awards. The nominations, accepted via the Indiana Public Library Foundation site through March 22, will factor into voting for the fifth annual awards, which recognize the contributions of Indiana authors who have altered the literary landscape in a significant way. Some award winners will be announced in early fall; others will be announced at an Oct. 26 gala funded by the Central Indiana Community Foundation's Glick Fund.
An eight-member panel of statewide experts in the field of literature will select three nominees: a regional and national winner, as well as an emerging author, who will all be recognized during the gala in October. Winning authors are given a cash prize anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 as well the opportunity to recognize their hometown libraries, who will be awarded with a cash prize of $2,500 in the form of a grant.
Any author who was either born or has resided within Indiana for five years is eligible for the award. The nomination process is quick, easy and painless. Visit http://www.indianaauthorsaward.org/ to nominate your favorite Indiana authors or email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
More than 150 seekers of all ages gathered June 13 for the fourth annual Scavenge the Ave, a scavenger hunt through businesses and other points of interest along Mass Ave. NUVO was stoked to be a headline sponsor of the event, which acted as a fundraiser for Indy Reads, promoting literacy awareness while encouraging participants to shop local and get in touch with the community.
Seekers began their quest at the Athenaeum, where they received their instructions, a special bookmark and a list of riddles. Looking at the list, a participant might have found something to the tune of: "Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer true: where can I go to buy a cycle with one wheel or two?" And after a few minutes of humming "Daisy Bell," they'd then stumble across Bikes on Mass Ave.
One of the event's only issues was that too many businesses were interested in participating this year - "Not that that's a problem!" said Katie Lindahl Smith, board member of Indy Reads and the chair of the Literary Advocacy Committee.
Because so many businesses took part, they had to be divided among several different lists in order for all of them to be represented. Joining the festivities provided many of these businesses some great exposure.
"It's a win/win," organizer Lindahl Smith said. "It costs businesses nothing, people get to enjoy Mass Ave and they support a good cause."
Inside Bikes on Mass Ave, intrepid adventurers found a pair of volunteers waiting for them, marker in hand, ready to sign them off as having found one of their destinations. But first our participant had to answer another question: "What percentage of adults can't read at or above a sixth grade reading level?"
Among those who didn't already know, the answer shocked them: a whopping 20 percent. Each destination had its volunteers who asked a different literacy related trivia question. According to Lindahl Smith, the trivia "creates one long mission moment - participants are constantly reminded what they're supporting."
And that thing they were supporting was Indy Reads, which provides free tutoring to adults who are struggling with illiteracy. The $12-$15 registration fee went to help fund the organization, which receives no direct government funding. All of Indy Reads' bills are paid by grants and donations, and consequently the overwhelming majority of its services are provided by volunteers. More than 40 of those volunteers donated their time and energy to Scavenge the Ave, where the majority of them acted as 'site-sitters' at the 26 participating locations.
As the night drew to a close, the valiant scavenger hunters returned to the Athenaeum, where they received raffle tickets in exchange for the signatures they'd collected around Mass Ave, as well as receipts for purchases they'd made over the course of the hunt. Those tickets were entered into a raffle drawing for more than 36 separate prizes, featuring everything from T-shirts to prize packs to gift certificates for local stores. But Indy Reads itself brought home the biggest prize by raising awareness of the adult illiteracy problem.
Here's the catch: The deadline to sign up is Feb. 1, so get on over to worldbooknight.org post-haste. Volunteers will be selected based on their pitch for where and why they're participating and to whom they plan to give books.
Those selected by World Book Night poohbahs will be notified by mid-February if they're in or out. Big Hat Books has a pick-up party planned for April 16 from 6-9 p.m.; book givers will then have until April 23 — UNESCO's World Book Day, as well as the anniversary of Shakespeare's birth and death and Cervantes's death — to distribute their lot. No monetary investment is required on the part of volunteers, who must be aged 16 and older and able to pick up and distribute books.
Here's the list of the 2012 World Book Night titles.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Blood Work by Michael Connelly
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
The Stand by Stephen King
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Just Kids by Patti Smith
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The publication of this 925-page behemoth by prolific Japanese author Haruki Murakami was a sensation of the 2011 literary world.
It took me until 2012 to finish it.
The task was not without its rewards, but it sometimes felt like toil, if for no other reason than adjusting the sheer weight of a hardback book on my stomach or in my lap.
I first fell for Murakami with his 1997 book, The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, a mysterious and magical tale of a passive protagonist, Toru Okada, who loses his wife’s cat and in the process of looking for it, loses his wife as well, falling down a Tokyo proverbial rabbit hole. I proceeded to read a number of his novels, including A Wild Sheep Chase and Norwegian Wood (soon to be a major motion picture!). And you can hardly pick up a New Yorker without stumbling into one of his short stories.
His work explores surrealistic territory; one part science fiction (without the science), one part fantasy (without the dragons). It can be enraging at times, as you grow impatient for answers; but the results are quite worth the struggle.
But when the equation includes schlepping around a 900-page book, stakes are raised. And, for a while at least, 1Q84 is as beguiling a work as any Murakami has published.
The story follows two distinct narrative paths; one is Aomame, a 30-year-old woman who — in the year 1984 — discovers a parallel world, a world she dubs 1Q84. Meanwhile, an aspiring novelist (and passive protagonist) named Tengo finds himself pulled into 1Q84, as he gets too close to a dangerous religious cult. Aomame and Tengo were elementary schoolmates, and so the novel spends some 850 pages keeping them apart.
The beginning of the book reminded me of Philip K. Dick’s Flow My Tears the Policeman Said, and Dick and Murakami share a similar stature in the world of letters: eschewed by the literary establishment, but embraced by readers — and Hollywood producers.
Dick is not the only shadow looming over this book. I couldn’t help but think of Don DeLillo’s massive tome, Underworld. Underworld, like The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, was published in 1997, and at 827 pages is nearly as colossal as 1Q84.
DeLillo’s Underworld did not win the National Book Award that year. Inexplicably, Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain won; I daresay Cold Mountain has not stood the test of time, while DeLillo’s book is now considered a masterwork of contemporary fiction.
Thing is, DeLillo’s work since Underworld has been, well, underwhelming. I was concerned at the time that this author — who had already crafted such extraordinary books as White Noise and, my personal favorite, The Names was in danger of blowing his literary wad with Underworld, and his small, terse novels since then have reinforced that concern. It’s not just the size of his novels, of course; it’s the overly familiar terrain — language and imagination.
And don’t get me started on David Foster Wallace and Infinite Jest. One can surmise DFW blew his allotted existential wad on that one.
I don’t want 1Q84 to be the 62 year-old Murakami’s blown wad, because it is no Underworld-scale masterwork.
Well into the second half of the book, I began to skim entire passages. Some chapters seemed downright gratuitous; not much happens at all. Especially irritating are chapters focused on a third major character, an antagonist named Ushikawa, introduced two-thirds into the narrative. It’s unknown why Murakami spends so much time straining to build character nuances into Ushikawa. He could have easily trimmed his narrative by spending less time on Ushikawa.
Even more irritating is the way Murakami shorthand-names his characters, like The Dowager, The Professor and Ponytail, or the magical creatures in the story, the Little People. It’s one thing to rely on these naming conventions in a traditional-sized narrative, but 900 pages of reading about The Dowager and Ponytail and Buzzcut becomes downright silly.
Ultimately the title of the book tells all. It’s… well, it’s awkward. Who knows how to pronounce it? It’s supposed to evoke Orwell’s 1984, and the Q stands for the word “question,” but the “1” looks like an “I” and thus looks like “IQ” — um, Intelligence Quotient? Does someone in the book have an IQ of 84? Nope.
Fascinating, compelling and sometimes annoying, 1Q84 ends up buried beneath its own weight.
Of course, not many authors have John Green's near-cult following, amassed on the strength of his New York Times bestselling young adult novels and a YouTube channel — Vlogbrothers, an ongoing video conversation between Green and his brother — that's earned over 18 million views.
When Green took the stage on Tuesday night, he was greeted not only by his pack of followers — who refer to themselves as Nerdfighters — but plenty of other stragglers who were curious to see what event was drawing such a large crowd on a Tuesday.
During the 43 minutes on stage, Green captured the attention of audience members, non-Nerdfighters and Nerdfighters alike, with his self-deprecating humor, readings and life-lessons.
Green, an Indianapolis native, talked about his life as a Vlogger, an author and his latest book, The Fault in Our Stars, which is due to come out in January. Still months away from release date, the book has already been No. 1 on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com’s best seller list.
After Green announced the book’s title in June, thousands of people logged on to pre-order the work. When Green upped the ante by promising to sign every single first-copy of the release — all 250,000 of them — sales went through the roof.
“It’s the first-est of first world problems to have, but I felt completely overwhelmed by the number of books I had to sign,” Green, who has all but about 3,600 left to sign, said during his appearance. “I’ve completely killed the market for my autograph.”
“Human oblivion is really at the center of the story,” Green said. “We’re all suffering from a terminal illness, in a way. We do ourselves a disservice when we don’t realize that.”
The story largely draws on Green’s experiences studying to be a chaplain at Kenyon College, a university with fewer than 2,000 students in Gambier, Ohio. He spent a lot of time working with children with terminal illnesses at a nearby hospital as part of his studies.
“I wasn’t cut out for it. I couldn’t walk away like I needed to,” Green said.
He decided to give writing a shot.
“I wanted to capture the things I had experienced and the stories I had witnessed, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it,” Green said. “Every attempt was too self-indulgent, and I wasn’t comfortable with that.”
Still determined to one day come back to the idea of writing about a children’s hospital, Green put the stories in the back of his mind. Years later, Stars became a vehicle for those ideas and stories.
The novel is set in “the 137th nicest city in America”—Indianapolis.
Green said that when his wife, Sarah, was offered a job as a curator at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, he was reluctant to make the move back to his city of birth. His opinion of the city has since changed.
“I see Indianapolis as my home more than any other place I’ve lived,” he said.
Thursday, October 6, 7:30 pm
Lilly Auditorium, IUPUI University Library, 755 W. Michigan St.
Maurice Manning is on a roll. If you’ve met him, if you’ve been in his poetry class at DePauw or IU or Warren Wilson, you might not have even known that he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Many of his friends and colleagues didn’t know until it got media attention. He tends to be humble about these things.
Manning was born and raised in Danville, Ky., and those roots are important to him—he’s worked meticulously to combat mountaintop removal and other things that plague his home in Appalachia. He’s interested in preservation. But he’s also spent a good deal of time in Indiana. Manning attended Earlham College before earning his MFA at the University of Alabama. He returned to Indiana to teach at DePauw University. Since the fall of 2004, Manning has taught in the creative writing program at IU.
Manning’s first collection of poems, Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions, was awarded the Yale Younger Poets Award—chosen by W.S. Merwin. His subsequent books include A Companion for Owls: Being the Commonplace Book of D. Boone, Lone Hunter, Back Woodsman (2004), Bucolics (2007) and The Common Man (2010), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.
His poetry deals with characters whose history and voices aren’t necessarily his own, or not entirely so. It's also steeped in research and curiosity and imagination. Manning also sets rules for himself with meter and length and the refusal to use certain words. These books are worth reading and re-reading, but Manning’s voice—especially when referencing various characters within the poems—adds something that can’t be experienced when merely flipping through the pages alone. He sort of performs them.
Manning will present his work in the Lilly Auditorium of IUPUI’s University Library as a part of the Rufus and Louise Reiberg Reading Series. Readings are free and open to the public. Map and directions are available at University Library's website.
NUVO: What’s the idea behind the Indy Underground series? What kind of authors do you try to bring in?
Barrett: Indy Underground was started by the author Will Allison when he lived in Indianapolis and served on the Board of the Writers' Center in order to provide a less academic, more celebratory reading series to complement the excellent university readings we have at Butler, IUPUI and University of Indianapolis. The series has always featured lively writers, beer or wine, and great venues. We feature a local writer alongside our visitor. Last summer we brought in Donald Ray Pollock. He read from the then-unfinished novel The Devil All the Time, which has now had a fabulous debut. Earlier this year, Alan Heathcock read from his story collection Volt — along with Allison Lynn, who we’re really privileged to have living in Indy and teaching at Butler, reading from her next novel. All of those readers and books are terrific, but I’m particularly excited to feature Frank Bill, an Indiana writer just now making it big. We love writers whose work is fresh and energetic and new.
NUVO: What do you think of Frank Bill’s work? Is it rare for an Indiana author to score a two-book deal with a major publishing house?
Barrett: Frank’s book is going to be — is becoming already — that rare book that transcends its genre without betraying it, that walks the line between crime and literary. It’s living in the best of both worlds, with the sales potential of crime fiction but the credentials of literary writing.
Indiana has produced a ton of great writers, many of whom have done well in big publishing, whether they’ve stayed or gone: Patricia Henley, Elizabeth Stuckey-French, Christopher Coake. Now, a strong crop of young writers (30-something is young for a writer) is coming up in the city, writing terrific books, just making their ways into the publishing world. Within a few years, books are going to be pouring out of this area; two- book deals will be no surprise whatsoever.
Indiana resists a concrete literary identity in the way that it resists an easy identity generally. And geography matters less and less to the business of writing. I don't think that, right now, it’s any more surprising to see an Indiana writer than a writer anywhere get a great contract. But the question is going to become moot in the fairly near future.
Indy Underground Reading Series featuring Frank Bill and Victoria Barrett
The Irving Theater, 5505 E. Washington St.
Thursday, Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m., free, all-ages; beer and wine available
Making America laugh is often no simple task. However, over the past 20 years author David Sedaris has managed to master the feat. And in April, he'll bring his satire to Indianapolis with an appearance at Clowes Memorial Hall.
In case you need reminding, Sedaris is arguably the most prolific comedic author of today. His stories are mainly woven from his own memories of childhood in the middle class and the misadventures of his young adulthood. His self-deprecating reflections on the life experience are refreshingly hilarious. Sedaris easily finds humor in the imperfection of the human condition, making his work both relevant and relatable. His ability to hit a main artery of truth shows how life is — well, just funny sometimes.
Since releasing his book Barrel Fever in 1994, Sedaris has rumbled his way up the book lists and into the libraries of a diverse audience. His subsequent collections of personal essays, including Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, and When You Are Engulfed in Flames have all become New York Times’ Bestsellers.
As well as writing, David Sedaris has a lot of experience entertaining an audience; he has shared stories over the airwaves of NPR and the BBC as a radio host.
For his visit to Clowes, Sedaris is celebrating the success of his most recent book, an illustrated collection of tales entitled Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary. These animal fables are a new stylistic endeavor for the author, but the flavor's still strong. He will read from his classic work, but it’s likely you’ll hear some stuff you haven’t even read yet.
What do writers do for fun? Well, they write, sometimes. Well Done Marketing — an Indianapolis based marketing and interactive firm — prides itself on employing talented writers: creative people. About a week ago, they launched an online literary magazine, Punchnel’s. It’s not necessarily modeled after another publication, but many of the people involved love Slate and Salon: places where pop culture and politics can mingle with creativity.
Creative director at Well Done, and editor-in-chief for Punchnel’s, Ken Honeywell, says, “There are tons of outlets for fiction and poetry, but we wanted to do something that was actually edited and that paid writers.”
He and Scott Woolgar (who has an English degree from Butler), president of Well Done Marketing, had been talking for over a decade about starting a magazine. “We initially talked about a print magazine, but now, because the web makes it possible to do all of the design stuff and distribution for free, it makes it more feasible to start something, and to pay writers.”
Punchnel’s publishes all kinds of creative writing: poetry, nonfiction, short fiction, photo essays, humor and reviews. New content is posted every weekday. Honeywell suggests that people check the site out often, “Keep coming back; we’re trying a lot of new things. And if you’ve got a great idea, let us know.” So far, the fiction has gotten a lot of traffic, and so they’re hoping to continue to get good short fiction up.
Because Well Done Marketing is based in Indianapolis, most of the people working on the site are local, but Punchnel’s has already gotten web traffic from all over the country. “We’re not trying to grow from Indianapolis out,” says Honeywell, “We’re just trying to publish the best work out there.”
Right now they’re advertising via Facebook and Twitter and constantly publishing new things on the site. Word travels fast and wide on the web; even after just a week Honeywell and others were happily surprised at how much traffic they had gotten. Although many of the writers at Well Done are contributing to the site, submissions are open to all.
Honeywell says, “We’re hoping, of course, to be wildly successful, so that we can keep paying writers to do what they do.” Seems like a good plan.
[A+E] Written + Spoken Word
[A+E] Visual Arts + Museums
[A+E] Visual Arts + Museums
[A+E] Theater + Dance
[A+E] Theater + Dance