Here are the books, stories, and plays presidential actors read at Michelle Obama event’s last night:

James Earl Jones: “I Hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman.
Chris Rock: Take Me Out, a 2002 play by Richard Greenberg.
Blair Underwood: “In the Wine Time” by Ed Bullins.
Sigourney Weaver: “Stove Top Stuffing” by Margalit Fox.
Cynthia Nixon: “The Matchmaker” by Thorton Wilder.
Geena Davis: “69 Cents,” a Gary Shteyngart remembrance published in the New Yorker in 2007
Sam Waterston: “Life on the Mississippi” by Eugene O’Neil.
Jeffrey Wright: “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” by by Eugene O’Neil.
Cherry Jones: Beloved by Toni Morrison.

After the performance, all the actors watched the first lady from an upstairs balcony.
"I miss all the fun stuff," Michelle Obama lamented to a couple hundred people who had packed into the low-lit sanctuary of 538 Park last night. "They just pull me in."

Here are the books, stories, and plays presidential actors read at Michelle Obama event’s last night:

James Earl Jones: “I Hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman.

Chris Rock: Take Me Out, a 2002 play by Richard Greenberg.

Blair Underwood: “In the Wine Time” by Ed Bullins.

Sigourney Weaver: “Stove Top Stuffing” by Margalit Fox.

Cynthia Nixon: “The Matchmaker” by Thorton Wilder.

Geena Davis: “69 Cents,” a Gary Shteyngart remembrance published in the New Yorker in 2007

Sam Waterston: “Life on the Mississippi” by Eugene O’Neil.

Jeffrey Wright: “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” by by Eugene O’Neil.

Cherry Jones: Beloved by Toni Morrison.

After the performance, all the actors watched the first lady from an upstairs balcony.

"I miss all the fun stuff," Michelle Obama lamented to a couple hundred people who had packed into the low-lit sanctuary of 538 Park last night. "They just pull me in."


As Stein explained it to me, the process of assembling the book involved reaching out to a group of writers, who would in turn select stories from the magazine’s archive for the anthology.
“We were very interested to see who the writers’ writers were, and what they looked for and remembered,” Stein said. And the authors selecting stories represent a sort of literary fiction dream team—a group that includes Lorrie Moore, Sam Lipsyte, Ali Smith, Ann Beattie, Dave Eggers, Mary Gaitskill, Jeffrey Eugenidies, and Jonathan Lethem. Some of their introductions focus on the lives of the writers they selected. Others, such as Eggers’s discussion of James Salter’s “Bangkok,” approach it from the level of craft: Eggers calls it a “nine-page master class in dialogue” in his introduction.
“Our initial concern was maybe that the stories selected would be too well-known, and that it would be a sort of greatest-hits collection,” Stein explained. “Those fears were pretty quickly laid to rest.

Beattie, Moore, Eggers, Gaitskill, Eugenides, Lethem and others publish a master class in the short story for ‘Paris Review’

As Stein explained it to me, the process of assembling the book involved reaching out to a group of writers, who would in turn select stories from the magazine’s archive for the anthology.

“We were very interested to see who the writers’ writers were, and what they looked for and remembered,” Stein said. And the authors selecting stories represent a sort of literary fiction dream team—a group that includes Lorrie Moore, Sam Lipsyte, Ali Smith, Ann Beattie, Dave Eggers, Mary Gaitskill, Jeffrey Eugenidies, and Jonathan Lethem. Some of their introductions focus on the lives of the writers they selected. Others, such as Eggers’s discussion of James Salter’s “Bangkok,” approach it from the level of craft: Eggers calls it a “nine-page master class in dialogue” in his introduction.

“Our initial concern was maybe that the stories selected would be too well-known, and that it would be a sort of greatest-hits collection,” Stein explained. “Those fears were pretty quickly laid to rest.

Beattie, Moore, Eggers, Gaitskill, Eugenides, Lethem and others publish a master class in the short story for ‘Paris Review’


One of the bingo players, Mary, is fixated on her deceased husband. At one point, Anya realizes that she would trade her own loneliness for Mary’s.
“I felt her loneliness,” Anya narrates, “and wanted it. I wanted hers. I didn’t want mine anymore.” It’s a familiar feeling, wanting to trade out of one’s problems, even for someone else’s. Yet in observing these old women, their sadness, regret, desire, Anya realizes that these problems never dissipate.

Brooklyn author Karolina Waclawiak’s discusses her debut novel, the immigrant experience, and Russian gangsters

One of the bingo players, Mary, is fixated on her deceased husband. At one point, Anya realizes that she would trade her own loneliness for Mary’s.

“I felt her loneliness,” Anya narrates, “and wanted it. I wanted hers. I didn’t want mine anymore.” It’s a familiar feeling, wanting to trade out of one’s problems, even for someone else’s. Yet in observing these old women, their sadness, regret, desire, Anya realizes that these problems never dissipate.

Brooklyn author Karolina Waclawiak’s discusses her debut novel, the immigrant experience, and Russian gangsters

Tags: books lit

“What is an activist? I’ve never really understood. Is it somebody who votes? It’s going to set you apart from a lot of the populace if you do…. There are also professional activists. That’s their job. They’re involved with an organization. They have an agenda. That’s their job. That’s fine. I’m not one of those people, although I’m frequently called upon to front this or that. And there’s a very good reason for that: I don’t have a job, so I can’t get fired. So people like me, who are freelancers, are often called upon for that reason. So you’re put in that position by the mere fact of having the freedom—which it is—not to be subject to the strictures of your place of employment.” - Margaret Atwood on being a political writer and an “activist,” a description she dismissed.

“What is an activist? I’ve never really understood. Is it somebody who votes? It’s going to set you apart from a lot of the populace if you do…. There are also professional activists. That’s their job. They’re involved with an organization. They have an agenda. That’s their job. That’s fine. I’m not one of those people, although I’m frequently called upon to front this or that. And there’s a very good reason for that: I don’t have a job, so I can’t get fired. So people like me, who are freelancers, are often called upon for that reason. So you’re put in that position by the mere fact of having the freedom—which it is—not to be subject to the strictures of your place of employment.” - Margaret Atwood on being a political writer and an “activist,” a description she dismissed.

“I’m not worried about chasing people away,” he said. “How many more people can we chase away by writing? Nobody reads. It’s not like I’m dropping an album, I’m like an M.C. and I’m like ‘Yo, I need all the beats to be polka beats.’ Okay, I might lose people, and there’s money involved. But there ain’t no money in this fucking game. If you get 2,000 readers, you’re good. You’re good. So you might as well do what your dream tells you to do and be happy that the people at the other end of the page are happy to see you.”
Junot Díaz on writing about 11 Dominicans, getting ‘lunch money’ from Miramax, and the generosity of his readers

“I’m not worried about chasing people away,” he said. “How many more people can we chase away by writing? Nobody reads. It’s not like I’m dropping an album, I’m like an M.C. and I’m like ‘Yo, I need all the beats to be polka beats.’ Okay, I might lose people, and there’s money involved. But there ain’t no money in this fucking game. If you get 2,000 readers, you’re good. You’re good. So you might as well do what your dream tells you to do and be happy that the people at the other end of the page are happy to see you.”

Junot Díaz on writing about 11 Dominicans, getting ‘lunch money’ from Miramax, and the generosity of his readers

Yikes. More shocking stats from The Atlantic (The Atlantic!), the New Yorker, the Paris Review, the New York Times and more.

Yikes. More shocking stats from The Atlantic (The Atlantic!), the New Yorker, the Paris Review, the New York Times and more.

"True dat" - President Obama to New Yorker editor David Remnick, in an off-the-record meeting.

"True dat" - President Obama to New Yorker editor David Remnick, in an off-the-record meeting.

Tags: lit books

"Really, almost everything that’s been done since was done in Don Quixote and Tristram Shandy. So I find that very heartening, too. Just remember this was invented as a flexible, strong and swaggering form that could do all kinds of things that other forms couldn’t do."

Jennifer Egan is hopeful about the novel’s ability to assimilate other forms. In Capital New York [by Dan Rosenblum via ] (via sarahwrotethat)

Also:

She told the story of a failed attempt to write about identical twin rappers named Dyme. She described following them around and going to a Notorious B.I.G. release party, where her most embarrassing journalistic moment took place.

“I was just trying to find my way around,” she said, “and just trying to blend in and learn the lay of the land, and so I went up to someone and I went, ‘Could you point out Biggie to me?’ And of course it was a posthumous release.”

(via sarahwrotethat)

peterwknox:

The Millions : How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Write ‘The Marriage Plot’
Eugenides guest post.

"But you don’t write a novel from an idea, or at least I don’t. You write  a novel out of the emotional and psychological stuff that you can’t  shake off, or don’t want to. For me, this had to do with memories with  being young, bookish, concupiscent, and confused."

peterwknox:

The Millions : How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Write ‘The Marriage Plot’

Eugenides guest post.

"But you don’t write a novel from an idea, or at least I don’t. You write a novel out of the emotional and psychological stuff that you can’t shake off, or don’t want to. For me, this had to do with memories with being young, bookish, concupiscent, and confused."

"MIt was actually law at Brown in 1982 that you had to study semiotics. They still have that law in the books, I’m told. But this is when it was new. When I got to Brown, they were having this battle because you’d have these professors who were New Critics who would read essays they’d written 30 years before on yellow paper on Shakespeare, and you’d go from those courses to the courses on semiotics where another cohort in the English department had decided that the New Criticism was over and that they would become constructionists and deconstructionists. There was this big battle when I was there and Madeleine is sort of stuck between it."

Jeffrey Eugenides at Greenlight bookstore last night, discussing his new novel, The Marriage Plot, and one of its main characters Madeleine. Read more ——->

always1895:

I strongly suggest checking out an upcoming event on mystery fiction and NYC history featuring author and Sherlockian Lyndsay Faye (Dust and Shadow and the upcoming The Gods of Gotham) along with Joseph Wallace, and Edgar-winner Stefanie Pintoff. Along with the integration of history into their novels, they will be discussing issues of gender, race, and ethnicity in early New York City and how such issues have changed over time.

Recommended! September 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Gotham Center.

Tags: NYC history LIT

liquidnight:

“There are roughly three New Yorks.
There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and turbulence as natural and inevitable.
Second, there is the New York of the commuter—the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night.
Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these three trembling cities the greatest is the last—the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high-strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion. And whether it is a farmer arriving from Italy to set up a small grocery store in a slum, or a young girl arriving from a small town in Mississippi to escape the indignity of being observed by her neighbors, or a boy arriving from the Corn Belt with a manuscript in his suitcase and a pain in his heart, it makes no difference: each embraces New York with the intense excitement of first love, each absorbs New York with the fresh eyes of an adventurer, each generates heat and light to dwarf the Consolidated Edison Company.”
— E.B. White, Here is New York
[photo via All Things Amazing, photographer unknown]

Required reading, always. 

liquidnight:

“There are roughly three New Yorks.

There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and turbulence as natural and inevitable.

Second, there is the New York of the commuter—the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night.

Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these three trembling cities the greatest is the last—the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high-strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion. And whether it is a farmer arriving from Italy to set up a small grocery store in a slum, or a young girl arriving from a small town in Mississippi to escape the indignity of being observed by her neighbors, or a boy arriving from the Corn Belt with a manuscript in his suitcase and a pain in his heart, it makes no difference: each embraces New York with the intense excitement of first love, each absorbs New York with the fresh eyes of an adventurer, each generates heat and light to dwarf the Consolidated Edison Company.”

— E.B. White, Here is New York

[photo via All Things Amazing, photographer unknown]

Required reading, always. 

(via skibinskipedia)

It’s as though Lalitha’s trans-global cache gives an ethnic figleaf to Franzen’s white American satire, allowing him to steer clear of any talk of America’s dominant minorities, namely blacks and Latinos. In the only scene in the novel when racial difference becomes an issue, Walter and Lalitha end up at a commercial steakhouse in small-town West Virginia: “He felt … glaringly urban, sitting with a girl of a different race amid the two varieties of rural West Virginians, the overweight kind and the real skinny kind.”

esquared:

“To live in Manhattan is to be persistently amazed at the worlds squirreled inside one another, the chaotic intricacy with which realms interleave, like those lines of television cable and fresh water and steam heat and outgoing sewage and telephone wire and whatever else which cohabit in the same intestinal holes that pavement-demolishing workmen periodically wrench open to daylight and to our passing, disturbed glances. We only to pretend to live on something as orderly as a grid.”
~Jonathan Lethem, Chronic City
[pic via kitty]

This goes for all the boroughs, in our opinion.

esquared:

“To live in Manhattan is to be persistently amazed at the worlds squirreled inside one another, the chaotic intricacy with which realms interleave, like those lines of television cable and fresh water and steam heat and outgoing sewage and telephone wire and whatever else which cohabit in the same intestinal holes that pavement-demolishing workmen periodically wrench open to daylight and to our passing, disturbed glances. We only to pretend to live on something as orderly as a grid.”

~Jonathan Lethem, Chronic City

[pic via kitty]

This goes for all the boroughs, in our opinion.

Tags: NYC lit