Tag Archives: authors

Book Nerd Alert! Come See Dave Eggers and Marlon James Talk Books in St. Paul

We are serious about our books here in the Twin Cities. For a woman who loves books as much as I do, that is good news.

Imagine my excitement when it was announced that Marlon James and Dave Eggers would be talking books in St. Paul. You can still buy tickets for the Thursday February 4th event here.

The event benefits the Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute, an after school program that helps students aged 6-18 work on their homework. The nonprofit focuses particularly on writing and gives kids the opportunity to publish their own books. According to an article in The Star Tribune, the Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute is somewhat based on the “network of writing and tutoring programs that Eggers co-founded, called 826 National.”

Despite his work with 826 National, Eggers is a polarizing writer. Many people find him arrogant. He did, after all, write a book called, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I get that doesn’t come across as particularly humble.

I also understand the need for arrogance as a writer. You have to think your writing is better than the writing of most other people. You also need to have enough ego to survive the inevitable series of rejections.

So Eggers’ ego has never bothered me. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius was the first Eggers book I read, and it remains one of my favorite books. And I mean favorite books ever.

I read it after losing my brother, and I found it funny and beautiful and devastating. To me, it was an honest book about what it is like to lose someone (or two someones in Eggers’ case) you love.

When you lose someone, you try to mourn and not become overwhelmed by sadness. You also need to go on living. You need to find the joyful and funny moments when you can. This is what I love about A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Eggers shows himself laughing and crying and f*cking his way through a completely devastating situation. It is messy and at times awkward. But so is life, and so too is death.

Eggers has also written other books I’ve loved. Two of his other equally compelling and devastating creative nonfiction books are Zeitoun and What Is the What. Zeitoun follows the Zeitoun family through Katrina, and What Is the What is the story of a young Sudanese refugee, one of the so-called Lost Boys of Sudan. The Circle is one of Eggers’ fiction works, and it is basically a modern day 1984. The book is a disturbingly, realistic scenario of how technology could change our lives and not for the better.

James just received the Man Booker Prize for his historical fiction novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings. The novel is set in Jamaica and depicts the attempted assassination of Bob Marley. James lives in Minneapolis and teaches at Macalester College.

I have only just started A Brief History of Seven Killings, and I haven’t read James’ other novels. But so far, I can attest that James is an incredible writer.

So when I saw the event with Eggers and James pop up on Facebook, I knew I had to go. I don’t go to nearly as many readings as I should, but when a favorite author reads, I get there.

So if you’re around the area and a fan of these authors, I suggest you get there too. And oh yeah, it’s for a good cause. Nothing better than that for a book nerd like me.

This week’s video is “People Got A Lotta Nerve” by Neko Case.

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Coming Together and Saying Those Unsayable Things

I lost my brother Karl to suicide a little over ten years ago. It is still hard for me to speak about, but I am slowly, getting better at saying those unsayable things.

This summer I started working with Canvas Health, a non-profit organization that helps children, adolescents, adults, and families who struggle with mental health, chemical health, and domestic and sexual abuse. Working with Canvas makes me feel like I am, in a small way, helping people like my brother.

This fall, I decided to coordinate an event for Canvas Health on International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. The recognition day takes place this year on November 21st.

According to survivorday.org, Survivors of Suicide Loss Day was created through the efforts of Senator Harry Reid, who lost his father to suicide in 1972. In 1999, Reid introduced a resolution to the US Senate requesting a day of recognition for suicide loss survivors. After it passed, “the US Congress designated the Saturday before Thanksgiving ‘National Survivors of Suicide Day,’ a day where friends and family of those who have died by suicide can join together for healing and support.”

Our event will feature local writers reading about suicide, loss, and survival. We are trying to bring together people who have survived suicide loss, in an effort to build community and foster support.

SubText Books has generously agreed to host the event on 2:00 pm on Saturday November 21st in St. Paul, MN. SubText will feature the books of the writers who read at event. Canvas Health will also have information about its programs and services available.

I have contacted several writers and received a “Yes!” which I am extremely excited about. The talented Matt Rasmussen has agreed to read from his deeply moving book of poetry, Black Aperture. He was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2013 and won the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets in 2012.

This is where you come in.

I need more writers. The writers don’t need to have a book out to be included in the event. If your work has only been published online, that’s fine as well. I am looking for writers that are comfortable reading in front a group. Also I want writers whose work focuses on suicide and would contribute to the atmosphere of healing and support.

If you know any talented writers or are a talented writer located in Minnesota, please contact me. This event means a lot to me, and I think it will mean a lot to this community. You can email me at pameladewey4010@gmail.com or tweet at me @agnesofiowa. I appreciate any help you can direct my way.

This week’s video is “Come Together” by The Beatles.

 

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