Author Events

A Brain for All Seasons receives Walter P. Kistler Book Award

April 3, 2006
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A Brain for All Seasons receives Walter P. Kistler Book Award

Walter H. Calvin has received the 2006 Walter P. Kistler Book Award for his book A Brain for All Seasons: Human Evolution and Abrupt Climate Change. The award, presented by the Foundation For the Future, recognizes authors of science-based books that contribute to society’s understanding of the factors that may impact the long-term future of humanity. Mankind has recently come to the shocking realization that our ancestors survived hundreds of abrupt and severe changes to Earth’s climate. In A Brain for All Seaons, William H. Calvin takes readers around the globe and back in time, showing how such cycles of cool, crash, and burn provided the impetus for enormous increases in the intelligence and complexity of human beings—and warning us of human activities that could trigger similarly massive shifts in the planet’s climate. On April 6, at 7:00 p.m., the University of Washington will host an award ceremony for Calvin. He will be interviewed, participate in a Q&A session, and sign books. The event is free and open to the public. Read an excerpt. . . .

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Nelson Algren birthday party

March 21, 2006
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Nelson Algren birthday party

On March 25, at 8:00 p.m., the 18th Annual Nelson Algren Birthday Party will take place at Acme Art Works (1714 N. Western Avenue). Algren (1909-1981), author of Chicago: City on the Make, is being honored by the Nelson Algren Committee, a group dedicated to promoting interest in Algren, who "made Chicago his trade." The event will feature readings, music, a photographic exhibition, a drawing for Algren books and memorabilia, and of course, birthday cake. Ernest Hemingway once said of Nelson Algren’s writing that "you should not read it if you cannot take a punch." The prose poem, Chicago: City on the Make, filled with language that swings and jabs and stuns, lives up to those words. This 50th anniversary edition is newly annotated with explanations for everything from slang to Chicagoans, famous and obscure, to what the Black Sox scandal was and why it mattered. More accessible than ever, this is, as Studs Terkel says, "the best book about Chicago." We also publish H. E. F. Donohue’s Conversations with Nelson Algren, a collection of frank and often devastating conversations in which Algren reveals himself with all the gruff humor, deflating insight, honesty, and critical brilliance that marked his career. . . .

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Virginia Festival of the Book 2006

March 21, 2006
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Virginia Festival of the Book 2006

This week (March 22-26), Charlottesville hosts the Twelfth Annual Virginia Festival of the Book. This free event features readings, panels, and discussions with authors, illustrators, and publishing professionals. Four of our authors will participate: Joel Agee, translator of Hans Erich Nossack’s The End: Hamburg 1943 will appear on an "Individual Voices" panel on March 24, noon, at UVa Wilson Hall Auditorium, Room 402, (UVa Central Grounds) Johanna Drucker, author of Sweet Dreams will explore how artists draw inspiration and materials from popular culture on March 22, 2 p.m., at the UVa Art Museum, Pine Room (UVa Central Grounds) Louise W. Knight, author of Citizen: Jane Addams and the Struggle for Democracy will appear on the "19th Century Women: Biography" panel on March 25, noon, at New Dominion (404 E. Main Street) Lawrence Weschler, author of A Wanderer in the Perfect City: Selected Passion Pieces will interview comic artist Art Spiegelman on March 25, 8 p.m., at the Culbreth Theatre (UVa Central Grounds). Weschler will make a second appearance, lecturing on modern art on March 26, 1:30 p.m., at the Culbreth Theatre (UVa Central Grounds) Read an excerpt from The End. Read an excerpt from Sweet Dreams. Read an excerpt from . . .

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Author event: Gail Mazur, Zeppo’s First Wife

March 16, 2006
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Author event: Gail Mazur, Zeppo’s First Wife

On March 27 at 8:00 p.m., Los Angeles Times Book Prize nominee Gail Mazur will read from Zeppo’s First Wife: New and Selected Poems at the Blacksmith House (56 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA). The event is part of the Blacksmith House Poetry Series, which Mazur founded in 1973. Zeppo’s First Wife, which includes excerpts from Mazur’s four previous books, as well as twenty-two new poems, is epitomized by the worldly longing of the title poem, with its searching poignancy and comic bravura. In his review of Zeppo’s First Wife, former United States Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky wrote, "Audacity and modesty: In Mazur’s work, those apparent opposites reveal their secret kinship: Modesty from its place on the sidelines can see through the conventional sham of the rules, and audacity has the confidence to embrace the plain, ordinary truth. In the face of demons or emptiness, Mazur offers a song." Read a poem from Zeppo’s First Wife. See all our books by Gail Mazur. . . .

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Author event: Lawrence Weschler, A Wanderer in the Perfect City

March 13, 2006
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Author event: Lawrence Weschler, A Wanderer in the Perfect City

On March 15 at 7:30 p.m., Lawrence Weschler, author of A Wanderer in the Perfect City: Selected Passion Pieces, will sign books at Skylight Books in Los Angeles (1818 N. Vermont Avenue). Lawrence Weschler was a staff writer at the New Yorker for twenty years, where his work shuttled between political tragedy and cultural comedy. A Wanderer in the Perfect City is a collection of his cultural forays, now republished with a new foreword by Pico Iyer. Read the new foreword. Read an excerpt on the Web site of the New York Times, from an earlier edition. See all our books by Lawrence Weschler. . . .

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Author event: Ann Durkin Keating, Chicagoland

March 10, 2006
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Author event: Ann Durkin Keating, Chicagoland

On Saturday, March 11, at 11:00 a.m., Ann Durkin Keating will discuss her new book Chicagoland: City and Suburbs in the Railroad Age at the Newberry Library in Chicago (60 West Walton Street ). The event is free and open to the public. Copies of Chicagoland will be available for purchase. Historian and coeditor of the acclaimed The Encyclopedia of Chicago, Ann Durkin Keating resurrects for us here the bustling network that defined greater Chicagoland. Taking a new approach to the history of the city, Keating shifts the focus to the landscapes and built environments of the metropolitan region. Organized by four categories of settlements-farm centers, industrial towns, commuter suburbs, and recreational and institutional centers-that framed the city, Chicagoland offers the collective history of 230 neighborhoods and communities, the people who built them, and the structures they left behind that still stand today. See tours of Chicagoland. Visit the Encyclopedia of Chicago Web site. . . .

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Author event: Andrew Wachtel, Remaining Relevant after Communism

March 8, 2006
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Author event: Andrew Wachtel, Remaining Relevant after Communism

On March 9 at 7 p.m., Andrew Wachtel will discuss his new book Remaining Relevant after Communism: The Role of the Writer in Eastern Europe at the No Exit Café in Chicago (6970 N. Glenwood in Rogers Park). More than any other art form, literature defined Eastern Europe as a cultural and political entity in the second half of the twentieth century. Although often persecuted by the state, East European writers formed what was frequently recognized to be a "second government," and their voices were heard and revered inside and outside the borders of their countries. This study by one of our most influential specialists on Eastern Europe considers the effects of the end of communism on such writers. According to Andrew Baruch Wachtel, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the creation of fledgling societies in Eastern Europe brought an end to the conditions that put the region’s writers on a pedestal. In the euphoria that accompanied democracy and free markets, writers were liberated from the burden of grandiose political expectations. But no group is happy to lose its influence: despite recognizing that their exalted social position was related to their reputation for challenging political oppression, such writers have . . .

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Author event: Gail Mazur, Zeppo’s First Wife

March 2, 2006
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Author event: Gail Mazur, Zeppo’s First Wife

Gail Mazur will read from Zeppo’s First Wife: New and Selected Poems on March 4 at 8 p.m., at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA. Yesterday, the Provincetown Banner featured an article about Mazur. Sue Harrison asked Mazur if writing poems about her husband was off limits: "I’m unsentimental and I don’t write love poems," she says, adding that if she does there is usually some wry twist. An exception to that is "Air Drawing" from They Can’t Take That Away From Me, which was a National Book Award finalist. In that poem, Mazur takes a roundabout, unsentimental way to deal with love by recalling Mike’s brush with death. In the poem, the narrator is reading a mystery book and watching her husband sleep. I watch his right hand float in our bedroom’s midnight, inscribe forms by instinct on the air, arterial, calligraphic figures I’m too literal to follow… Is this the way it has to be — one of us always vigilant, watching over the unconscious other, the quick elusory tracings on the night’s space. That night two years ago in the hospital, tubes in his pale right hand, in his thigh, I asked myself, . . .

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Why Are You Laughing?

February 27, 2006
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Why is the slapstick comedy of the Three Stooges funny? Why do we laugh when the Black Knight gets his arm hacked off in Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Paul Lewis, author of the forthcoming book, Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict, recently discussed the appeal of violence in comedy on NPR’s Studio 360. In a Studio 360 segment called "Why Are You Laughing?," Lewis compared violent comedy to a roller coaster: "As you make your way up there’s a sense of apprehension. Will this be dangerous? Will it be thrilling? As you’re on your way down you’re either screaming or you’re laughing or some combination, which is familiar to people who enjoy sadistic or cruel humor." Listen an audio file of "Why Are You Laughing?" on NPR’s Studio 360 Web site. Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict will be published by the University of Chicago Press later this year. . . .

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Robert E. Wright discusses The First Wall Street on NPR

February 22, 2006
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Robert E. Wright discusses The First Wall Street on NPR

Earlier this week, Robert E. Wright talked to NPR’s Cheryl Glaser about his new book The First Wall Street: Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, and the Birth of American Finance. When Americans think of investment and finance, they think of Wall Street—though this was not always the case. During the dawn of the Republic, Philadelphia was the center of American finance. The first stock exchange in the nation was founded there in 1790, and around it the bustling thoroughfare known as Chestnut Street was home to the nation’s most powerful financial institutions. The First Wall Street recounts the fascinating history of Chestnut Street and its forgotten role in the birth of American finance. An audio file of the program is on NPR’s Marketplace Web site. Read an excerpt. . . .

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