where I went in May

Here is my long overdue recap of the literary events I was able to attend in May! It’s a big season of change in my life right now, so bear with my lateness. I will also be posting very soon a post of literary news of things happening in the Twin Cities area that aren’t event-specific.

May was a busy month due to a wedding I was in and being out of town, but I caught some really great events featured below!

May Event Recap

On May 1, I was able to attend the Twin Cities bookstore Rep Night where we listened to Random House representatives talk about the exciting new books coming out this summer. I landed an ARC of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (review to come soon!) as well as some others I’m really excited to dive into quite soon. We also listened to short readings and talks by authors Peter Geye, author of recently released Wintering and Nathan Hill, author of The Nix. Other perks of being a bookseller include meeting other booksellers in the area and nerding over our love of books.

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Poetry bingo & Strongbow at honey mpls!

Later that week on Wednesday, May 4, my partner and I went to honey mpls for a poetry reading with Coffee House and Graywolf presses complete with POETRY BINGO, and it was bomb. The release of Amanda Nadelberg’s Songs From a Mountain from Coffee House Press. She was hilarious and, in honor of Mother’s Day, read excerpts from her mom’s journal from when Amanda was a baby. Good drinks with good publishing friends.

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This is my ACR of his short story collection along with teasers of 3 of his re-released novels!

Over the weekend on Saturday, May 14, Andy and I listened to Brian Evanson read at Magers & Quinn from his new short story collection A Collapse of Horses just out from Coffee House Press! It’s a delightfully spooky short story collection best read in Evanson’s voice himself. Saw friends from Coffee House at this event as well!

alimon_brightdeadthingsOn Monday, May 16, Milkweed hosted “Taking the Risk to Change Your Life for Art: A Reading & Conversation with Ada Limón and Joan Vorderbruggen” at Open Book/The Loft Literary Center, which was an absolutely fantastic evening. Ada Limón read from her latest poetry volume Bright Dead Things, which was incredible, and they all had a lovely discussion about creativity and how it does or should fit into our lives. I will be writing up a whole separate post about this talk because it was just that good. And check out Ada’s poetry collection if you want to read some great poetry!

Unfortunately I didn’t make it to many events last month, but we are making up for it in June for sure!

Did you attend any awesome literary events in May, or listening to any readings on NPR or any book-related podcasts? Please share in the comments! 

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favorite (contemporary) lit luminary

Since the name of this blog does imply it’s about human luminaries, I thought I’d start off with one that inspires me the most.

When people ask me who my favorite writer is, I’m often very stumped. Not only do I hate “favorite” questions, but there’s so many to choose from! And then there’s the matter of what works you have read by said writer, and how many are needed to feel justified in favoriting them. I actually don’t read as much or am not as well-read as people think. I wish I was, and yes, I was an English major, but that doesn’t automatically guarantee I’ll know even a lot there is to know about writing, and I wish I knew more writers. Factors such as the school, the professors, preferences, and even the year change things drastically. I haven’t even most of the classics other English majors have (although I have read, finished, and written an extensive literary theory paper on Bleak House by Dickens, of which I am quite proud). So I wanted to focus on my favorite contemporary literary luminary, since lately I’m reading lots of new ARCs and recent lit.

So when I think of my “favorite” writer who is also still alive, I think of someone who, though I may not have read everything by this person,  challenges me almost daily to be a better person. I think of this person’s words almost every day—that is how much they resonate with me.

anne lamottThis writer is Anne Lamott.

My favorite words of hers are always changing. I loved her book Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, but I actually disliked the only novel of hers that I’ve read (Blue Shoe). However, for the writers out there, her writing “advice” book Bird by Bird, which I DID read in college, is UH-MAZING.

But the writing that has resonated the most with me are her occasional Facebook posts. They are small gems of essays that literally look and sometimes read like she wanted to write a Facebook status but then had so much wisdom she just let herself go. Sometimes they’re rambly, sometimes very well thought out, and always insightful.bird

My faith is something so small and quiet these days, and it’s not something I like to talk about very much. However, Lamott reminds me that my roots remain true, that there is hope, and that it doesn’t have to be conservative Republican 😉 (Trying to avoid politics AND faith topics on this blog, just so I can encourage unity, but this is what had to be said. I’ll leave it at that.)

She also is a firm feminist, believes in equality and human rights, and isn’t afraid to speak up or go against the status quo. She talks about the tough stuff. She talks about real life. She has dreadlocks, she gets a little sweary, and her angst is real and raw and admitting to fault but not afraid to say it like it is. And yet she remains a positive voice impacting many—regardless of faith, sexual identity, political opinions, or other differentiating factors. AND OF COURSE she loves books.

“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

—from Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (emphasis mine)

“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.”

Anne Lamott, thank you for your words on life and hope and mental illness and grief and trying to enjoy and life fully each day. You are a one of my favorite voices, and I want to go on reading your Facebook posts forever. If I could have coffee with any writer on earth (which is SUCH A HARD QUESTION) it would be you.

Sincerely,

An admiring writer.

What about you? Who is your favorite contemporary literary luminary? Or, if you could have coffee with one writer on earth, who would it be?

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