Monday, September 20, 2010

Book Review: STORIES by Scott McClanahan

S. McClanahan, Stories. Pittsburgh: Six Gallery Press, 2009. Fiction. 146 pages. ISBN: 978-0981009124.

Scott McClanahan is one of the most refreshing writers of fiction I've read in a long time. I love his debut collection, STORIES, which revives the pleasures of the age-old art of storytelling. McClanahan's narrator is funny and profane, at least a little bit self-depricating but somehow always compassionate to his subjects. As a writer, McClanahan is smart and hilarious, evoking layers of pathos from the twists and turns his stories and narration take. His tales revisit familiar Appalachian characters, small-town disasters, and gothic themes that Flannery O'Connor, Breece D'J Pancake, or Tom Waits could love (lost limbs, jailtime, disfigured strippers, hit-and-runs, the small-town down-and-out), but the tone of the narrator makes them something I've never heard before, immediate and contemporary. With many more stories up his sleeve, McClanahan is going places. Highly recommended for collections of: contemporary fiction, short stories, young authors of fiction, Appalachian fiction, small press fiction, first-person fiction, rural fiction, or West Virginia fiction.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Howl! Festival in New York

In honor of the three-day, eighth annual Howl! Festival that starts today in New York, I've decided to repost two resources I made last December for finding out more about (or teaching) Howl via the library.

The first is a two-part video I made about the history of Ginsberg's groundbreaking poem, and about how to find books and other resources on Howl at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh:

See part one of the Howl video HERE.

Part two is HERE.

The second resource is a LibraryThing catalog I complied of 58 resources on Howl. Essentially an annotated bibliography, this catalog includes notes on the relevance of each resource to the poem and helpful aids like links to online resources (including some readings of the poem) or relevant page numbers for anthologies. LibraryThing itself is useful for always being one or two clicks away from Worldcat, Amazon, or reader suggestions.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Library Tourism in Action

Andrew Carnegie at the Braddock Carnegie Library, dedicated in 1889.

Following up on my July op-ed about public library advocacy through Library Tourism, I will be conducting a library tour in Pittsburgh a week from today. In fact, as part of the Pittsburgh Small Press Festival's month of events, I have been asked to conduct two tours. On Sunday, September 12th, I will be taking a trolley-full of people to tour a few major libraries in Pittsburgh, and on Sunday, September 19th, I will conduct a tour of six of Pittsburgh’s indie bookstores.

Pittsburgh has such an embarrassment of riches when it comes to historic libraries and indie bookstores, that we won’t get to all of them, but I’ll talk about the ones we don’t go to. Both tours will be from 1:00-4:30pm, both cost $10, and both will come with a “swag bag” of goodies, including one free Autumn House Press book for each tour participant, as well as a brochure-map of either Pittsburgh's historic libraries or the city's indie bookstores (respectively). You must sign up before the tours. Tickets and details are HERE for the Library Tour and HERE for the Bookstore Tour.