It’s November and the War on Christmas season has already begun? GROAN! Have no fear, brave crusader Sarah Palin is here–literally here, in Bethlehem, to wage war on this war. Palin’s rolling into the local Barnes and Nobles there on Tuesday, November 12th to hawk her new book Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas.
Your new book chronicles how you did something new every single day for a year. Midlife crisis?
I was just in a bad place, and I really didn’t know what to do about it. There was so much change around me at work that was really overwhelming. And life changes—my daughter had gone off to college. And all this technology was coming along that I hated.
It’s not like your life had lacked for challenges. You lost your large intestine at 33, had breast cancer at 35 and kidney cancer at 45. … You weren’t content to just put your feet up?
I want to live passionately. And I think I just hit a wall. It went on for about a year where I was really upset and angry. I was waiting for something to change around me, and nothing did. And I realized: I’m going to have to make the change.
As we pack away our summer clothes, it’s also time to put away the summer book fluff. So while the weather gets chillier and we switch from white to red wine, we want to read something that’s a bit meatier, a bit more substantial. But with new releases every week, it’s hard to know where to even begin. Here are ones that I’m excited about:
According to a new book from Eric Schlosser — the investigative journalist behind the books Fast Food Nation and Reefer Madness — Philadelphia almost fell prey to a nuclear bomb accident more than forty years ago.
In the course of reporting the just-released book, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident and the Illusion of Safety, Schlosser obtained a newly declassified document about a United States Air Force B-52 bomber that broke up over North Carolina in 1961.
Two hydrogen bombs fell from the plane, each carrying a four megaton warhead, hundreds of times more powerful than the bomb that hit Hiroshima. The only reason that this nuclear bomb accident didn’t lead to an explosion was because we got very, very lucky.
While parts of North Carolina would have been completely obliterated, reports say that lethal fallout would have been deposited over northern cities, including Philadelphia and even New York.
In total, Schlosser finds that approximately 700 “significant” nuclear bomb accidents or incidents occurred between 1950 and 1968.
Last week, esteemed
old white guy author Jonathan Franzen offered up a lengthy old white guy rant diatribe against the Internet, Twitter, and how modern technology enables and encourages “Jennifer-Weinerish self-promotion.”
Jennifer Weiner, a Philadelphia novelist, was not amused. She responds in The New Republic:
Maybe Franzen takes issue specifically with my use of Twitter, which falls into two broad categories: urging mainstream publications toward more inclusive book coverage and live-tweeting “The Bachelor.” Neither preoccupation has done much for my book sales, so neither one is truly self-promotional.
Maybe it’s personal.
In 2010, I coined the hashtag Franzenfreude. It was very bad German for a very real problem: When Franzen’s most recent novel, Freedom, was published, newspapers and magazines devoted thousands of words to the book and its author, while giving other literary books far less attention, and, in some cases, ignoring commercial works completely. Perhaps Franzen’s recent name-check was payback for when I implied that he was the face of white male literary privilege, or for pointing out that he’s the kind of writer who goes on Facebook only to announce that he won’t be doing Facebook, with the implication that he doesn’t have to do Facebook, because the media does his status updates for him. Or maybe he just really, really hates “The Bachelor.”
Other literary writers have won prizes, or Oprah’s endorsement. Other writers have appeared on Time’s cover, or have been able to shun social media, but only Franzen’s done it all. From his privileged perch, he can pick and choose, deciding which British newspaper gets the honor of running his 5600-word condemnation of self-promotion that ends with an unironic hyperlinked invitation to buy his new book. Few—no—other writers have it so good. For the rest of us—commercial and literary alike—there is social media for fun, ads and tours for publicity, billboards and book trailers only if we’re lucky.
Ouch. Maybe “Weiner-ish self-promotion” means “offering up well-aimed shivs at the heart of your critics.”
Legendary LGBT bookstore Giovanni’s Room, which owner Ed Hermance has run for 37 years, is up for sale (both the building and the store). He (and the community, surely) is looking to keep the bookstore alive, but will sell it outright if there isn’t enough cash to make it happen. And in case he doesn’t, you better head to 12th and Pine and get your fix. Much more at G Philly.
Here’s a press release we just got, announcing details for this year’s 215 Festival.
THE 215 FESTIVAL RETURNS THIS OCTOBER 17-20, ALL OVER PHILLY
Philly’s rambunctious literary festival to touch down in four different neighborhoods; benefit event on Sept. 13
Twelve years on from its inception as the McSweeney’s Festival, The 215 Festival is slated to return this October 17-20th, touching down each day in a different neighborhood of Philadelphia, that great city of neighborhoods. This literary arts celebration serves to highlight the creative efforts of our fellow thinkers from both within our (questionably) humble area code, and beyond. And we’re pleased to announce that this year, we’re using as much of that area code as we possibly can. With festival creative director Joey Sweeney of Philebrity.com returning this year, the broad strokes of the 2013 edition of The 215 Festival are as follows:
· Thursday, October 17: Opening night festivities include: Nicholson Baker at the Free Library, followed by Writer’s Night In America, a live chat show hosted by TJ Kong, at Underground Arts.
· Friday, October 18: “Neighborhood Takeover” in Fishtown, with no less than a dozen literary events that evening, followed by a, er, “mixer.”
· Saturday, October 19: “Neighborhood Takeover” in East Passyunk, with both day programming and no less than a dozen literary events that evening, followed by a, er, “mixer.”
· Sunday, October 20: “Neighborhood Takeover” in Rittenhouse: A full schedule of YA Lit events that day at the Rosenbach Museum, followed by a final reading event/book talk/cocktail party at the Philadelphia Art Alliance.
At this time, new authors are being confirmed daily, but we can say that Neal Pollack, Nicholson Baker, Bruce Smith, Liz Moore, Wesley Stace, Tom Moon, Jason Fagone, Lord Whimsy, Thom Devaney, Nathaniel Popkin, Sarah Rose Etter, Nic Esposito and Doogie Horner have all been confirmed. Additionally, we’re happy to announce that this year’s festival will see events curated by an unprecedented amount of literary journals: Among them, our sponsor, DelanceyPlace.com, Apiary Magazine, The Head & The Hand Press, American Poetry Review, Tin House, The Paris Review, Barrelhouse, The Philadelphia Review of Books and more. Partner organizations this year include the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, SEPTA, NKCDC, GPTMC, Visit East Passyunk and The Rosenbach Museum.
But before all of that happens, we’re also pleased to announce The 215 Festival Benefit & Preview, to be held Friday September 13th 2013 at the legendary Port Richmond Books. Featuring appearances by Tom Moon’s Ensemble Novo, comedian/author Doogie Horner, poet Elizabeth Scanlon, author Sarah Rose Etter and the world-famous TYPE-IN typewriter happening, this fundraiser/preview will be held in one of the city’s most revered and awesome spaces for books — Port Richmond Books, which is an old silent movie theater on Richmond Street that is stacked wall-to-wall with, you guessed, books. For more info, check out the Facebook invite: https://www.facebook.com/events/155063471359899/
ABOUT THE 215 FESTIVAL: Founded in Philadelphia in 2001, The 215 Festival is a literary arts festival celebrating the written, spoken and visualized word. The 215 Festival showcases the vibrant community of literary talent in Philadelphia, and highlights the continued relevance of letters in a growing range of mediums, from books and poetry to music, film, and blogs. To help contextualize our local scene, the 215 Festival also seeks to present national and international talent. Past events include author readings, book-themed dance parties, literature-informed musical events, book fairs, literary film screenings, and blogger panel discussions. Over the years, the 215 Fest has played host to some of today’s most interesting writers, including Jonathan Lethem, Neal Pollack, Ben Greenman, Matt Klam, Amy Fusselman, John Hodgman, Legs McNeil, George Saunders, Sarah Vowell, Zadie Smith, Jeffrey Eugenides and Patti Smith among many, many others.
Having conquered the film world so decisively, movie maker M. Night Shyamalan, who resides on the Main Line, is about to release a book called I Got Schooled: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America’s Education Gap. It’s about education reform.
He told Wall Street Journal‘s Alexandra Wolfe all about it in the Saturday/Sunday edition of the paper:
Until recently, he says, moviemaking was his real passion. “I’m not a do-gooder,” he says. Still, after the commercial success of his early movies, he wanted to get involved in philanthropy. At first, he gave scholarships to inner-city children in Philadelphia, but he found the results disheartening. When he met the students he had supported over dinner, he could see that the system left them socially and academically unprepared for college. “They’d been taught they were powerless,” he says.
He wanted to do more. He decided to approach education like he did his films: thematically. “I think in terms of plot structure,” he says. He wondered if the problems in U.S. public schools could be traced to the country’s racial divisions. Because so many underperforming students are minorities, he says, “there’s an apathy. We don’t think of it as ‘us.’ ”
One reason that countries such as Finland and Singapore have such high international test scores, Mr. Shyamalan thinks, is that they are more racially homogenous [sic]. As he sees it, their citizens care more about overall school performance — unlike in the U.S., where uneven school quality affects some groups more than others. So Mr. Shyamalan took it upon himself to figure out where the educational gap between races was coming from and what could be done about it.
You can pre-order I Got Schooled now on Amazon. The book is set to be released on September 10th via Simon & Schuster.
Imagine this: James Buchanan, Newt Gingrich, Kobe Bryant and Taylor Swift are sitting around a pool on a steaming summer’s day, tossing back some beers and idly Googling themselves on their iPhones. “Have you ever thought, just maybe, y’all belong with me?” Swift asks.
So, what does this motley crew have in common, if anything?
A bit, actually. For one thing, they were all born in the Philadelphia area (can you guess which one still cherishes childhood memories of being down the Shore?)
It is that time of the year. The time when, with images of white beaches and umbrella’d drinks firmly in mind, we want to surround ourselves with things that will help us relax. To let our minds rest. To take us away. Like good, highly readable books. But with scads of new books being released every week, not to mention myriad “Best Summer Books” and “Best Beach Reads” lists being published everday, it’s overwhelming (i.e., not relaxing) to know where to being.