BLP Conversations: Amanda Dennis and Dr. Molly J. Crockett

Welcome to the BLP Conversations series, featuring dialogues between people whose lifework, like BLP’s mission, explores the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences, and has become a testament to how science and the humanities can join forces to educate and inspire. This online series is inspired by E.O. Wilson and Robert Hass, whose talk about the connections between science and the arts was published in our book The Poetic Species: A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass.

In this conversation Amanda Dennis, author of Her Here, and Dr. Molly J. Crockett, associate professor of psychology at Princeton, discuss selfhood, the connection between narrative self-making and mental health, and the complicated nature of truth. Their conversation is part of the BLP Conversations series from Bellevue Literary Press, featuring dialogues that explore the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences.

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BLP Conversations: Siobhan Phillips & Alicia Kennedy

Welcome to the BLP Conversations series, featuring dialogues between people whose lifework, like BLP’s mission, explores the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences, and has become a testament to how science and the humanities can join forces to educate and inspire. This online series is inspired by E.O. Wilson and Robert Hass, whose talk about the connections between science and the arts was published in our book The Poetic Species: A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass.

 

 

In this conversation Siobhan Phillips, author of Benefit, and Alicia Kennedy, a writer based in San Juan who focuses on food culture and whose cultural and culinary history of plant-based eating will be published in 2023, discuss food writing, labor, the history of sugar, and the revolutionary potential of recipes. Their conversation is part of the BLP Conversations series from Bellevue Literary Press, featuring dialogues that explore the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences.

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BLP Conversations: Maud Casey & Jason Tougaw

Welcome to the BLP Conversations series, featuring dialogues between people whose lifework, like BLP’s mission, explores the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences, and has become a testament to how science and the humanities can join forces to educate and inspire. This online series is inspired by E.O. Wilson and Robert Hass, whose talk about the connections between science and the arts was published in our book The Poetic Species: A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass.

Photo of author Maud Casey on the left, with photographer credit to Zach Veilleux. In the middle of the image, the BLP logo. On the right, a photo of author Jason Tougaw, with credit to photographer David Driver.

In this conversation, Maud Casey, author of City of Incurable Women, and Jason Tougaw, author of The One You Get: Portrait of a Family Organism and The Elusive Brain: Literary Experiments in the Age of Neuroscience, discuss the importance of touch, the relationship between porousness and boundaries, and what can be accomplished by reaching back in time through archives. This conversation is part of the BLP Conversations series from Bellevue Literary Press, featuring dialogues that explore the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences.

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Music to Read By: Maud Casey’s Playlist for City of Incurable Women

Incurable is a word Charcot used: ‘The great asylum,’ he wrote, ‘as you are surely aware, contains a population of over 5,000 people, including a great number of incurables who are admitted for life. . . . In other words, we are in possession of a kind of living pathological museum, the resources of which are considerable.’ That word incurable has a flip side—as in, aren’t we all incurable when it comes to mortality? When it comes to desire? Here’s a playlist of music by women who are that flipside of incurable in their music, and often in their lives—brave, renegade, spilling over.”

Read more about and listen to Maud’s playlist for City of Incurable Women at Largehearted Boy—one of our favorite places on the Internet. It is, in the words of its curator David Gutowski, “a music blog featuring daily free and legal music downloads as well as news from the worlds of music, literature, and pop culture.” In the “Book Notes” series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.


Music to Read By: Amanda Dennis’s Playlist for Her Here

Her Here is about two women, Elena and Ella, one in search of the other. It’s also about travel as adventure and escape, about fleeing the self and being faced with it. Many of the songs below capture the vivid joy and sadness of being always on the move, of wanting to disappear, to escape exposure. Some call up the terror of going too far, of losing track of home.”

Read more about and listen to Amanda’s playlist for Her Here at Largehearted Boy—one of our favorite places on the Internet. It is, in the words of its curator David Gutowski, “a music blog featuring daily free and legal music downloads as well as news from the worlds of music, literature, and pop culture.” In the “Book Notes” series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.


BLP Conversations: Lisa Olstein & Paul Lisicky

Welcome to the BLP Conversations series, featuring dialogues between people whose lifework, like BLP’s mission, explores the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences, and has become a testament to how science and the humanities can join forces to educate and inspire. This online series is inspired by E.O. Wilson and Robert Hass, whose talk about the connections between science and the arts was published in our book The Poetic Species: A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass.

In this conversation, Lisa Olstein, member of the poetry faculty at the University of Texas at Austin and author of Pain Studies, and Paul Lisicky, associate professor at Rutgers University-Camden and author of Later: My Life at the Edge of the World, discuss the coronavirus pandemic, the connection between illness and vulnerability, and the awe-inspiring feeling of being alive. This conversation is part of the BLP Conversations series from Bellevue Literary Press, featuring dialogues that explore the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences.

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Read a story from Frederic Tuten’s The Bar at Twilight in BOMB Magazine.


Music to Read By: Jerome Charyn’s Playlist for Sergeant Salinger

“A good portion of the novel takes place during World War II, when [J.D.] Salinger, a member of the U.S. Counter Intelligence Corps, experienced horror after horror. . . . The Andrews Sisters appear as disembodied creatures in Sergeant Salinger. Sonny, as Salinger was called, had to identify each of the Andrews Sisters at a checkpoint in “The Green Hell” of the Hürtgen Forest, or he might have been arrested as a German spy. He rattles off their names—‘Patty, Laverne, and Maxene’—and gets through the checkpoint unscathed.”

Read more about and listen to Jerome’s playlist for Sergeant Salinger at Largehearted Boy—one of our favorite places on the Internet. It is, in the words of its curator David Gutowski, “a music blog featuring daily free and legal music downloads as well as news from the worlds of music, literature, and pop culture.” In the “Book Notes” series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.


Listening Through Uncommon Measure with Author Natalie Hodges

The following pieces constitute a highlight reel of the music I reference in each of the five chapters in Uncommon Measure—essentially, my personal playlist* and a set of program notes for the book. The recordings I have chosen are by no means the “definitive” ones; rather, they are the performances and interpretations that continue to inflect the way I play, love, and listen to classical music.

*Find a longer playlist on Spotify or click the links below to listen to individual pieces

Chapter One “Untrainment”

“La campanella” from Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 2, Op. 7. III: Allegro spiritoso (Rondo alla campanella) (1826; arr. early 1900s for violin and piano by Fritz Kreisler)

Niccolò Paganini, 1782–1840

Recording: Ivry Gitlis with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Stanislaw Wislocki. October 2, 1966, Paris.

The great lore surrounding Paganini, of course, is that he sold his soul to the Devil in order to play so damned well. An illustration from the late 1820s, by the Viennese artist Johann Peter Lyser, shows him fiddling and stamping inside a runic circle, surrounded by a dancing host of shadows dead and undead, his flashing eyes and floating hair befitting the demon-lover from Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan.” A critic in the French journal L’Entracte proclaimed him a “Satan onstage, Satan knock-kneed, bandy-legged, double-jointed, twisted. . . . Fall to the knees of Satan and worship him.” In a 2007 article in Current Musicology, the violinist and musicologist Maiko Kawabata—citing L’Entracte, Lyser, and others—compiles a list of monikers by which Paganini was known throughout Europe during his lifetime: sorcerer, charlatan, wizard, der hexensohn, Faustus, Mephistopheles, Satan, Zamiel.

Paganini composed frequently in the form of theme and variation, of which rondos like “La campanella” represent their own more specific form. Variant sections revolve around a fixed theme whose inevitable, eternally approaching return fills the listener with a kind of holy dread. Rondos were, I think, ideal for the buildups of unbearable tension that caused audience members to cry out and occasionally collapse during Paganini’s performances, effects that only fed rumors of his demonic powers. Each successive variation is an opportunity for a more daring, more terrible exhibition of the violinist’s skill than the last, while the recurrent summoning of the theme renders the music simultaneously familiar and strange—incantatory, talismanic, chthonic.

The myth of Paganini survives in a persistent modern fascination with his character, particularly in film and, in the American playwright Don Nigro’s 1995 play Paganini, on the stage. “Variation upon variation,” Nigro’s Paganini cries, “but which variation leads to salvation and which to damnation? Music is a question for which there is no answer.” For sheer cool-headed style, I recommend this 1966 performance of “La campanella” by Ivry Gitlis, one of the towering violinists of the twentieth century, with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra.

Chapter Two “A Sixth Sense: Notes on Improvisation”

Wilder Reiter (The Wild Horseman)”, from Album für die Jugend, Op. 68 (1848)

Robert Schumann, 1810–1856

Recordings: Luba Edlina, Schumann: Album for the Young, 1999; Gabriela Montero’s improvisation at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, January 27, 2020.

It touched me to learn, while researching these notes, that 19th-century Europe had its own version of the Suzuki Method (if not so much in organized practice, then at least in spirit): the philosophy that to teach children music is to nurture them toward becoming virtuous people and moral citizens, toward living well and with love. Inspired by Rousseau’s 1762 treatise Emile, or On Education and its emphasis on both the child’s imagination and his independence—his “best right of all”—a new wave of German philosophers and pedagogues began to argue for the incorporation of music into childhood education, essential to Rousseau’s project of “mak[ing] a loving and feeling being—to perfect reason by sentiment.”

Among those influenced was the composer Robert Schumann, who in 1848 published a collection of children’s pieces entitled Album für die Jugend (Album for the Young). Conceived in part as a birthday present for his eldest daughter, Marie, the album is unique in that the pieces are written not just for children to play, but, as the scholar Lora Deahl notes in an essay for College Music Symposium, “from the perspective of a child” (emphasis mine). The eighth piece in the album, for example—a brief tune, at once playful and somber, entitled “The Wild Horseman”—is riddled with surprising and off-kilter accents meant to mimic the ride, as Deahl puts it, of “a child on a hobbyhorse, knocking recklessly against the legs of chairs and tables.” Schumann, a father of eight, wrote that the Album was of special personal significance to him because its scenes “were taken directly from my family life.”

More than a century and a half later, the pianist Gabriela Montero would riff on “The Wild Horseman”—a piece she first learned as a child—to illustrate how, for her, “improvisation was always just a way to narrate life,” crucial to her development not only as an artist but as a human being. You can listen to Montero’s improvisation on this theme at the Radcliffe Institute here (her performance begins at 15:36). For the original piece (and the complete album), I recommend the Ukrainian pianist Luba Edlina’s 1999 recording.

Chapter Three “Symmetry Breaking”

Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 (1904, revised 1905)

Jean Sibelius, 1865–1957

Recording: Jascha Heifetz with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Walter Hendl, 1960.

“My tragedy,” wrote the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius of his early musical ambitions, “was that I wanted to be a celebrated violinist at any price. Since the age of fifteen I played my violin practically from morning to night.” It wasn’t until his mid-twenties, however, a decade after he first began studying the instrument, that Sibelius “had to admit that I had begun my training for the exacting career of a virtuoso too late.” His violin concerto—the only concerto he ever wrote, for any instrument—has thus been widely interpreted as his valediction to a former self. It is a brutal piece, angry, melancholic, unrelenting; wracked with suffering, suffused with tenderness, relieved only occasionally from itself in moments when the fever of its intensity breaks into a dull chordal throb, an ache from beyond. I remember in particular how difficult it is to save enough bow for the long notes in each of the three movements: the strength and restraint required to hold the intensity of the phrase without choking the tone; the locus of tension in the gut, the burning stillness somewhere in the back of the upper right arm.

When I first learned Sibelius’s concerto in high school, for conservatory auditions, I was as frightened by its backstory as I was moved by it. It seemed to me a bad omen, an embodiment of the future I was fighting against, the ghosts of anticipation that moved in my periphery as I played: the double-octave shifts I missed more often than not, the extra noise that, try as I might to silence it, cluttered a difficult bow change in the opening melody.

I didn’t realize until much later, when I was no longer practicing violin in the same way, that the labor that goes into playing the piece—the relentless physical struggle required both to learn and to perform it—is perhaps essential to the music’s emotional power, not to mention its meaning for the generations of violinists who continue to grapple with it. I also think of an anecdote from Erik Tawaststjerna’s 1976 biography of Sibelius, describing his failed audition for the Vienna Philharmonic in 1891, when he was twenty-five years old: “When he got back to his room, Sibelius broke down and wept. Afterwards he sat at the piano and began to practice scales.”

The conflict between Jascha Heifetz’s yearning melodic phrasing and the uncompromising tempi carried forward by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, in their 1960 collaboration with the iconic violinist, captures this struggle with particular poignance.

Chapter Four “Chaconne”

“Ciaccona” from Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004 (~1720)

Johann Sebastian Bach, 1685-1750

Recordings: Rachel Podger, Bach: Sonatas and Partitas, 1999; Sergey Khachatryan, Bach: Sonatas & Partitas, 2010.

Because the chapter itself revolves around both the Chaconne and the larger work to which it belongs, I will focus here, briefly, on a detail of that magnum opus, the six sonatas and partitas for solo violin by Johann Sebastian Bach. The original manuscript is titled, in Italian, as per convention, Sei Solo a Violino senza Basso accompagnato, six solos for violin without bass accompaniment. But there is a mistake in the Italian grammar, one by which Bach himself speaks directly to the performer—in other words, no mistake at all. “Six solos” should be sei soli in Italian, not sei solo, which, translated, means “you are alone.” In German, Bach’s native tongue, its sense is even stronger: sei solo is a command, the singular imperative form of the verb sein, to be. In a score practically devoid of articulations, explicit tempi, and even dynamic markings for the performer to lay a course by, Bach’s singular instruction to both player and listener is, simply, to be alone. His violin sonatas and partitas, perhaps like all of his music, simultaneously remind us of our lonely condition and challenge us to face it, dwell in it, rise to meet it as we are.

I mention in the book that there are as many interpretations of the Chaconne as there are violinists, and every violinist, too, will play and listen to it differently at various stages of their life. Two particular recordings meant more to me during the process of writing Uncommon Measure than any others. One is a historical performance by the violinist Rachel Podger, from her 1999 Bach album, on a gut-stringed, Baroque-style instrument whose shadowy resonance somehow captures the lilt and curve of cathedral walls. The other, a 2010 recording by the young Armenian violinist Sergey Khachatryan, harnesses the full power of a modern violin and bow and bristles with verve and energy, raw and clarion in its cry of rage and sorrow.

Chapter Five “The Still Point of the Turning World”

“Café 1930” from Histoire du Tango (1986)

Astor Piazzolla, 1921–1992

Recording: Augustin Hadelich and Pablo Sáinz-Villegas, Histoire du Tango, 2013.

With the structural rhyme of its alternating A–B–A sections and its dual preoccupation with love and time, tango is to classical music as the sonnet is to English poetry: a highly formal expression of desire, a long tradition with a wistful sense of its past. That profound self-consciousness, both sad and celebratory, finds its most explicit outlet in Astor Piazzolla’s 1986 masterpiece “Histoire du Tango,” whose four interlocking movements trace the evolution of tango music from the brothels of early twentieth-century Buenos Aires to the modern-day concert hall. And yet tango, unlike the traditional sonnet, has always been about far more than courtship. It is Argentina’s “street language,” or cayengue, in the words of the pianist Pablo Ziegler, who performed with Piazzolla’s tango Quintet from 1978 to 1988: “Defying and exhibitionist, the authentic tango expresses mugre (filth) and roña (fight). . . . Piazzolla has very sophisticated compositions, and at the same time, they are mugrosas. Such mugre can be felt, in spite of the intricacy with which those tangos were written or whether the language was contemporary, impressionist or expressionist.”

Indeed, Piazzolla is credited above all other composers with transforming tango into concert music: he almost single-handedly developed the style of nuevo tango, which infuses tango’s traditional forms with the full-bodied warmth of chamber music, the electric shiver of jazz. But Ziegler is right that all of Piazzolla’s works retain a shadow—indeed more than a shadow—of the blood and grittiness that make tango, well, tango. The second movement of “Histoire,” for example—the violet-hued “Café 1930,” whose opening murmur conjures the luminous windows and black cobblestones of a rainy Parisian afternoon—expresses its mugre in the form of brief accelerated passages that, like a temper momentarily lost, lurch toward explosive ardor with an intensity that dissipates as quickly as it blooms.

Originally composed for flute and guitar, “Histoire” is commonly performed by violinists in combination with other instruments, usually guitar, piano, or piano and cello. My favorite recording—for its mugre, roña, beauty, grief—is the 2013 album by the German-Italian violinist Augustin Hadelich and the Spanish guitarist Pablo Sáinz-Villegas.


Reading Group Guides for Norman Lock’s The American Novels

Download the Feast Day of the Cannibals reading group guide.

Download The Wreckage of Eden reading group guide.

Download the A Fugitive in Walden Woods reading group guide.

Download The Port-Wine Stain reading group guide.

Download the American Meteor reading group guide.

Download The Boy in His Winter reading group guide.


A Remembrance of Meredith Tax

We at Bellevue Literary Press mourn the passing of Meredith Tax, our beloved friend and author of A Road Unforeseen: Women Fight the Islamic State. Her commitment throughout her life to women’s rights, most recently with her work with Kurdish women, was central to her writing, and her political engagement was propelled by unflagging belief and infused with joy. She was an ongoing source of inspiration to us and many others.

—Gloria Jacobs, Bellevue Literary Press President of the Board of Directors and Erika Goldman, Bellevue Literary Press Publisher and Editorial Director


A Remembrance of Gerald Weissmann from our Founding Publisher

I was quite intimidated by Gerry Weissmann, who was three years ahead of me when I became a resident on the New York University Medical Service in 1970. That feeling persisted, so it was with some trepidation, in 1992, that I asked him to suggest a publisher for a book I had just written (my first). The title was to be A User-Friendly Field Guide to the Subject of Acid-Base Disorders through the Magic of Ion Transport. While I held my breath, Gerry said, “Needs a better title . . . Acid and Basics,” and without missing a beat, he recommended an editor, who then bought my book to be published by Oxford University Press.

That was the beginning of a relationship that included, most importantly, his recommendation that I seek the help of Erika Goldman in finding a publisher for a novel based on the life of Lawrence J. Henderson. That meeting with Erika ultimately led to the creation of Bellevue Literary Press.

He was generous with his praise, when he felt it was warranted, and very supportive of my work. Just two weeks before he died, I consulted him for a reference to a quote by Lewis Thomas. He replied within an hour with both the answer and a Weissmannian quip.

His intelligence and wit will not be matched.

—Jerome Lowenstein


BLP Conversations: Jeffrey J. Kripal & John Horgan

Welcome to the BLP Conversations series, featuring dialogues between people whose lifework, like BLP’s mission, explores the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences, and has become a testament to how science and the humanities can join forces to educate and inspire. This online series is inspired by E.O. Wilson and Robert Hass, whose talk about the connections between science and the arts was published in our book The Poetic Species: A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass.

In this conversation, Jeffrey J. Kripal, professor of religion at Rice University and author of The Flip: Epiphanies of Mind and the Future of Knowledge, and John Horgan, science journalist and author of Mind-Body Problems, discuss the benefits and shortfalls of the scientific method, the nature of consciousness and knowledge, and how to remain spiritually optimistic. This conversation is part of the BLP Conversations series from Bellevue Literary Press, featuring dialogues that explore the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences.

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Music to Read By: Andrew Krivak’s Playlist for The Bear

“Songs about the end of the world are either too gloomy, too playful, or too political, and The Bear is not any of these. Rather, what I’ve tried to do is present a range of new music I came across while I was writing The Bear, music that came to me in a kind of obliquity, which is to say, when I least expected it and really needed it.”

Read more about and listen to Andrew’s playlist for The Bear at Largehearted Boy—one of our favorite places on the Internet. It is, in the words of its curator David Gutowski, “a music blog featuring daily free and legal music downloads as well as news from the worlds of music, literature, and pop culture.” In the “Book Notes” series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.


BLP Conversations: Helen Benedict & Nina Berman

Welcome to the BLP Conversations series, featuring dialogues between people whose lifework, like BLP’s mission, explores the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences, and has become a testament to how science and the humanities can join forces to educate and inspire. This online series is inspired by E.O. Wilson and Robert Hass, whose talk about the connections between science and the arts was published in our book The Poetic Species: A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass.

In this conversation, two faculty members of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, who work in very different mediums yet are just as much artists as they are journalists, discuss common themes in their most recent books. Helen Benedict—author of the novel Wolf Season, among several others, as well as an essayist and journalist—and Nina Berman—a photographer, filmmaker, and writer whose most recent book is An Autobiography of Miss Wish—tackle social injustice, violence against women, and the devastating effects of war while pushing back against the stereotyping of victims. This conversation is part of the BLP Conversations series from Bellevue Literary Press, featuring dialogues that explore the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences.

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BLP Conversations: John McWhorter & Kia Corthron

Welcome to the BLP Conversations series, featuring dialogues between people whose lifework, like BLP’s mission, explores the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences, and has become a testament to how science and the humanities can join forces to educate and inspire. This online series is inspired by E.O. Wilson and Robert Hass, whose talk about the connections between science and the arts was published in our book The Poetic Species: A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass.

In this conversation, John McWhorter, linguist and author of Talking Back, Talking Black, and Kia Corthron, playwright and author of the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize–winning The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter, discuss what makes a language “standard,” cultural acceptance of Black English and Black American Sign Language, and accents in literary dialogue, in life, and in the movies. This conversation is part of the BLP Conversations series from Bellevue Literary Press, featuring dialogues that explore the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences.

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Board Member Jan Vilcek Named Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors

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Dr. Vilcek receiving the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2013.

“I’m thrilled and honored by this recognition, and to be named among this group that has contributed so much to humanity.” —Dr. Vilcek

Bellevue Literary Press board member and research professor at NYU School of Medicine Jan Vilcek holds 46 U.S. patents and is co-inventor of Remicade, an anti-inflammatory drug that has improved the health of millions of people worldwide. In a new addition to his list of accolades, Dr. Vilcek has been selected as a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, which honors leaders in academic invention whose discoveries have made a significant impact on quality of life. We are immensely grateful to Dr. Vilcek for his service on our board and congratulate him on this latest honor for the extraordinary contributions he has made to the arts and science communities.


BLP Conversations: Paul Harding & David Oshinsky

Welcome to the BLP Conversations series, featuring dialogues between people whose lifework, like BLP’s mission, explores the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences, and has become a testament to how science and the humanities can join forces to educate and inspire. This online series is inspired by E.O. Wilson and Robert Hass, whose talk about the connections between science and the arts was published in our book The Poetic Species: A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass.

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In honor of the Pulitzer Prize centennial celebrations, Paul Harding, author of Tinkers (2010 winner for Fiction), and David Oshinsky, author of Polio: An American Story (2006 winner for History), sat down to discuss the responsibility of the writer in treating questions of medical science, and the power of authorial imagination to evoke the lived experience of illness in fiction and nonfiction. This conversation was supported by the Pulitzer Prize Campfire Initiative and hosted by the NYU Center for the Humanities.

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Meredith Tax on Writing A Road Unforeseen

I have been writing since the late sixties and though my writing has taken many forms—history, novels, essays, book reviews, pamphlets, leaflets, songs—all of it has been shaped by my determination not to oversimplify or hide behind irony, but to write about women and politics in a voice that reaches beyond intellect to feeling.

My most recent publication, Double Bind: The Muslim Right, the Anglo-American Left, and Universal Human Rights, calls for a politics based on human rights, a politics complex enough to oppose Western invasions and fight bigoted attacks on Muslims, and at the same time be unafraid to act in solidarity with movements in the Global South that fight the Islamist oppression of women, religious minorities, gays, and freethinkers. In it, I ​applied​ the method I developed ​for my first book, The Rising of the Women, combining storytelling, close reading of sources, and a search for patterns—​an approach I am also using in A Road Unforeseen, this time for current history.

When civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, and Assad viciously attacked his own people, I watched in horror, but I was not surprised that the Islamic State took off like wildfire, for I could see no force with sufficient political strength and enough military experience to stop them. This remained true until the summer of 2014, when Daesh swept down upon the Yazidis, a Kurdish minority in Sinjar, promising genocide and sex slavery. The vaunted Iraqi peshmerga had agreed to defend the Yazidis, but melted away when the time came. Out of nowhere came a miraculous rescue—Syrian and Turkish Kurds, including special women’s militias, who cut a passage through the Sinjar mountains to get the Yazidi out, fighting Daesh as they went.

They came from the Rojava cantons, a place I had never heard of. Racing to learn all I could about Rojava, I realized its people were putting core feminist, ecological, and cooperative ideas into practice, based on pluralism and separation between religion and the state, with a bottom-up democratic form of governance, with at least 40% of every organization being women, and co-leadership positions in everything, one male, one female—all in the middle of a fight to the death with Daesh and other Islamist militias, while under siege and unable to even get medical supplies because Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan had closed their borders.

For twenty years or more, my colleagues and I had been saying that only unity between leftwing movements and feminists could provide enough strength to take on both a rising tide of fundamentalism and an increasingly oppressive form of globalized capitalism. Because poor women in the Global South are the real “wretched of the earth,” we said, any movement for transformation had to make their needs central. But no leftwing movement I ever saw took up the challenge until Rojava. As I came to understand what they were trying to do, I knew their experiment was vitally important to all of us, and that I must help them get their story out, so they could get the support they need to survive.

A Road Unforeseen is a feminist reading of the war against Daesh, whose rule by rape and genocide is so akin to an adult-film version of Mordor that I felt the title had to come from Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring: “We must take a hard road, a road unforeseen. There lies our hope, if hope it be.”


Music to Read By: Norman Lock’s Playlist for Voices in the Dead House

“Like the songs of our day, those of the nineteenth century had much to do with current events, whether the hanging of a notorious criminal or a political campaign. Conventions and stump speeches, camp meetings and revivals were likely to conclude in an impassioned singalong. Printed on broadsides and sheet music, lyrics were fresh as newspaper headlines.”

Read more about and listen to Norman’s playlist for Voices in the Dead House at Largehearted Boy—one of our favorite places on the Internet. It is, in the words of its curator David Gutowski, “a music blog featuring daily free and legal music downloads as well as news from the worlds of music, literature, and pop culture.” In the “Book Notes” series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.


BLP Conversations: Norman Lock & Constantin Severin

Welcome to the BLP Conversations series, featuring dialogues between people whose lifework, like BLP’s mission, explores the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences, and has become a testament to how science and the humanities can join forces to educate and inspire. This online series is inspired by E.O. Wilson and Robert Hass, whose talk about the connections between science and the arts was published in our book The Poetic Species: A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass.

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In this conversation, Norman Lock, author of, most recently, the American Novels series, and Romanian visual artist Constantin Severin, founder of the Archetypal Expressionism movement, explore ecstatic visions, healing the world through metaphoric language, and the ways their work seeks to “quote” the past for the purpose of enriching the present.

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BLP Conversations: Cormac James & Philip Hoare

Welcome to the BLP Conversations series, featuring dialogues between people whose lifework, like BLP’s mission, explores the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences, and has become a testament to how science and the humanities can join forces to educate and inspire. This online series is inspired by E.O. Wilson and Robert Hass, whose talk about the connections between science and the arts was published in our book The Poetic Species: A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass.

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In this conversation, Cormac James, author of the novel The Surfacing, and Philip Hoare—whose nonfiction works such as The Whale and The Sea Inside blur the line between literary and natural history—ruminate on the ever-evolving relationship between man and nature, and how that relationship is enriched through literature and science.

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Norman Lock on Literature, History, and his American Novels Cycle: A Series Published by Bellevue Literary Press

We are a nation given over to consumption. The predilection for novelty is everywhere present, not excepting in our art and our literature. For much of my writing life, I believed that the works of the past belonged there. Romantic novels by Hawthorne and Melville or naturalistic ones by Stephen Crane and Frank Norris were to be endured in pursuit of a degree (even if sometimes secretly enjoyed). Once having been examined on past literary achievements, I hurriedly put them behind me in favor of fiction produced by Modernists and Postmodernists. I tended to judge art and literature by its novelty and its stylistic beauties (never mind their worth).

Late in my career, I have taken up the thread dropped forty years ago and am attending to the stories of the American past—that is, of course, how it has come to be known (how it is always coming to be known by successive generations of readers) by its literature. Through my American novels, I hope to understand, a little, the present American era by what came before and shaped its thought, beliefs, prejudices, virtues, vices, and emotional undertow. I want to believe that I am serving a purpose higher than aesthetics, which also has its place in my writing. I love to fashion beautiful sentences, but I hope that they are expressive of the state of my feelings about the world around me and of the truth, as I grasp it, of that elusive world, acknowledging that it is only an approximation.

The literature of the past conferred on readers and writers a larger view. It seems to me that this amplitude of time and space encouraged a corresponding amplitude of theme and purpose. In general, nineteenth-century literature was not small nor did it consider ethical, political, social issues outside the jurisdiction of fiction. It is precisely this old-fashioned grandeur of thought, moral intent, spaciousness, and comprehensiveness—in its breathtaking view of a continent being made and remade—that I hope to emulate in my American novels. Such an ambition is certainly presumptuous, but, with his or her every sentence composed with the intention that it be read, the writer presumes.

*The books of Norman Lock’s The American Novels series include The Boy in His Winter (2014), American Meteor (2015), The Port-Wine Stain (2016), A Fugitive in Walden Woods (2017), The Wreckage of Eden (2018), Feast Day of the Cannibals (2019), American Follies (2020), Tooth of the Covenant (2021), Voices in the Dead House (2022), and The Ice Harp (2023).


BLP Conversations: Michael Coffey & Mark Epstein

Welcome to the BLP Conversations series, featuring dialogues between people whose lifework, like BLP’s mission, explores the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences, and has become a testament to how science and the humanities can join forces to educate and inspire. This online series is inspired by E.O. Wilson and Robert Hass, whose talk about the connections between science and the arts was published in our book The Poetic Species: A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass.

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In this conversation, Michael Coffey, author of the short story collection The Business of Naming Things, and Mark Epstein, M.D., a psychiatrist and author known for exploring the interplay of Buddhism and psychotherapy, discuss the life and work of Samuel Beckett, emotional experiences that surpass language, and literature as a means toward self-discovery and mindfulness.

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A Conversation between Arthur L. Caplan and Jonathan D. Moreno about Impromptu Man

Arthur L. Caplan: People think of you as someone who writes about ethics: ethics of weapons, ethics of national security. What made you decide to take on your dad in book form?

Jonathan D. Moreno: Part of it was the fortieth year since he disappeared. He was eighty-four years old when he died. I was seven when he was seventy. The second reason is that it was an opportunity to write a biography about someone I didn’t know because his most vigorous years happened before I came along. But at the same time, I did know him for twenty-two years. So I had a funny advantage in that respect in writing about him. Also, it struck me that this was a guy who did so much that shaped our time. And in seeing the surprising connections in his ideas from improvisational theatre, to psychotherapy, to social networking, to social media, you view all of those parts of our culture in a different way. Continue reading…


BLP Conversations: Jonathan D. Moreno & John Pankow

Welcome to the BLP Conversations series, featuring dialogues between people whose lifework, like BLP’s mission, explores the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences, and has become a testament to how science and the humanities can join forces to educate and inspire. This online series is inspired by E.O. Wilson and Robert Hass, whose talk about the connections between science and the arts was published in our book The Poetic Species: A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass.

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In this conversation, Jonathan D. Moreno, author of Impromptu Man: J.L. Moreno and the Origins of Psychodrama, Encounter Culture, and the Social Network, speaks to actor John Pankow who plays television executive Merc Lapidus on the Showtime/BBC series Episodes. Together they examine the psychological petri dish of group theater and the ways it grew to influence science and life offstage.

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A Conversation with Sharona Muir on Invisible Beasts

Q: I think we all sense that there is an invisible world around us, but through Sophie’s eyes and the magic of fiction, you allow readers to “see” it. Why is this “seeing” so important?

A: The problems facing humanity’s relationship with nature can seem impossible: the bees we rely on for pollination are dying; the fish we eat are dwindling; pandemics are on the rise; so are the oceans; and species are going extinct en masse. In this time, we need to see through new eyes. We need “consilience”—E.O. Wilson’s term for the unity of knowledge: art, science, and the humanities working together, toward a more harmonious culture. Maybe, too, we need to think a bit crazy, follow Folly. In the words of Sophie, the narrator of Invisible Beasts, “we need to see the beasts that we don’t see.” Continue reading…


BLP Conversations: Sharona Muir & Christof Koch

Welcome to the BLP Conversations series, featuring dialogues between people whose lifework, like BLP’s mission, explores the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences, and has become a testament to how science and the humanities can join forces to educate and inspire. This online series is inspired by E.O. Wilson and Robert Hass, whose talk about the connections between science and the arts was published in our book The Poetic Species: A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass.

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In this conversation, Sharona Muir, author of the highly acclaimed debut novel Invisible Beasts, speaks to Christof Koch, Chief Scientific Officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science and author of numerous books, about our scientific understanding of consciousness and subjectivity in relation to art and culture. As their thinking pushes beyond the realm of modern humans, they relate these topics to prehistoric man and the animal kingdom.

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A Conversation with Eduardo Halfon on Monastery

Q: Throughout his travels in Israel, the secular narrator of Monastery is challenged about his commitment to his Jewish heritage by a number of characters, including the casually devout Tamara, his ultra-orthodox brother-in-law-to-be, and a nationalistic cab driver. Why are their questions such a struggle for him?

A: I think only a Jew questions his sense of Jewishness. A Catholic doesn’t question why he’s a Catholic. A Muslim doesn’t question why he’s a Muslim. They either are or aren’t. But us Jews, inherently, neurotically, question our identity as Jews, we struggle to figure out what it means to be a Jew. I don’t know why exactly. As if, to exist, we need a struggle, any struggle, even one that is imaginary. It’s like the waiter in a deli who goes up to a table of old Jewish men finishing their meal, and asks, “Is anything alright?” Continue reading…


BLP Conversations: David C. Cassidy & Dava Sobel

Welcome to the BLP Conversations series, featuring dialogues between people whose lifework, like BLP’s mission, explores the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences, and has become a testament to how science and the humanities can join forces to educate and inspire. This online series is inspired by E.O. Wilson and Robert Hass, whose talk about the connections between science and the arts was published in our book The Poetic Species: A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass.

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In this conversation, David C. Cassidy, author of Beyond Uncertainty: Heisenberg, Quantum Physics, and the Bomb, and best–selling science writer Dava Sobel discuss the “quantum leap of creative imagination” it took to make the transition into writing historical science drama. Staged readings of their first plays—Cassidy’s Farm Hall, about captured German nuclear scientists at the end of World War II, and Sobel’s And the Sun Stood Still, about Nicolaus Copernicus—were presented before meetings of the American Physical Society.

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BLP Conversations: Mary Cappello & Christine Montross

Welcome to the BLP Conversations series, featuring dialogues between people whose lifework, like BLP’s mission, explores the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences, and has become a testament to how science and the humanities can join forces to educate and inspire. This online series is inspired by E.O. Wilson and Robert Hass, whose talk about the connections between science and the arts was published in our book The Poetic Species: A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass.

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In this conversation, Mary Cappello, author of the memoir Awkward: A Detour, explores the divergence between literary and psychiatric narratives of disease with Dr. Christine Montross, a practicing psychiatrist and poet. Together, they delve into the disconcerting pleasures of poetry and the mysterious unknowability of the mind. Continue reading…


BLP Conversations: Tim Horvath & Mark Changizi

Welcome to the BLP Conversations series, featuring dialogues between people whose lifework, like BLP’s mission, explores the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences, and has become a testament to how science and the humanities can join forces to educate and inspire. This online series is inspired by E.O. Wilson and Robert Hass, whose talk about the connections between science and the arts was published in our book The Poetic Species: A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass. Horvath-Changizi-banner

In this conversation, Tim Horvath, author of the short story collection Understories, and Mark Changizi, a theoretical cognitive scientist, discuss the evolutionary science behind language and reading, while exploring the brain’s response to written language and music, and the potential for harnessing both in evocative fiction. Continue reading…


Music to Read By: Melissa Pritchard’s Playlist for Palmerino

“Eighteenth and early nineteenth century music ornaments many of the scenes in Palmerino. . . . Music was as indispensable to Vernon Lee’s intellectual and emotional life as were the books she read and wrote. As she grew older, near total deafness isolated her. Deprived of music and conversation, a remaining consolation was her ability to ‘hear’ music perfectly through il chant interieur, the memory of music.”

Read Melissa’s entire playlist for Palmerino at Largehearted Boy—one of our favorite places on the Internet. It is, in the words of its curator David Gutowski, “a music blog featuring daily free and legal music downloads as well as news from the worlds of music, literature, and pop culture.” In the “Book Notes” series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.


BLP Conversations: Charles L. Bardes & Tom Sleigh

Welcome to the BLP Conversations series, featuring dialogues between people whose lifework, like BLP’s mission, explores the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences, and has become a testament to how science and the humanities can join forces to educate and inspire. This online series is inspired by E.O. Wilson and Robert Hass, whose talk about the connections between science and the arts was published in our book The Poetic Species: A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass.

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In this conversation, Charles L. Bardes, physician and author of Pale Faces: The Masks of Anemia (from the BLP Pathographies series), and critically acclaimed poet Tom Sleigh explore the way myths influenced their psyches, and how the narratives of the gods were transposed onto classrooms and football games and suburban neighborhoods in their early writerly minds. Continue reading…


BLP Conversations: Austin Ratner & Joseph E. LeDoux

Welcome to the BLP Conversations series, featuring dialogues between people whose lifework, like BLP’s mission, explores the creative territory at the intersection of the arts and sciences, and has become a testament to how science and the humanities can join forces to educate and inspire. This online series is inspired by E.O. Wilson and Robert Hass, whose talk about the connections between science and the arts was published in our book The Poetic Species: A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass.

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In the first installment of the BLP Conversations series, Austin Ratner, author of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature award–winning novel The Jump Artist, speaks to Joseph E. LeDoux, professor and director of the Emotional Brain Institute at NYU, about the brain-mind and art-science divides. Their conversation traverses the more provocative theories of biology, psychoanalysis, and technology—from emergent properties to Freud to the Singularity. While LeDoux, a neuroscientist, discusses the neurological complexities of fear, Ratner, a trained physician who left the field to focus on writing, comes to terms with his own fear of one day being replaced by a novel-writing robot. Continue reading…


Music to Read By: Norman Lock’s Playlist for Love Among the Particles

Norman Lock shares his playlist for Love Among the Particles at Largehearted Boy:

 

“John Adams’s “The Chairman Dances,” from Nixon in China, which I heard for the first time in 1985, determined, in no small way, the course of my mature work. That sardonic and sensuous foxtrot confirmed for me what Doctorow’s Ragtime had first brought to my attention in the 70s: that one could bring into one’s fictions—a dreaming on paper—persons who had had actual lives, as opposed to persons with equally plausible and often more satisfying imagined ones. (That being said, one can hardly deny that an aspect of real life, in any guise, is always at least partially imagined.) And so, the dancing Chairman Mao, a charming conceit, drew me after him into realms of story-telling that led, first, to A History of the Imagination (FC2, 2004), then Land of the Snow Men (Calamari Press, 2005, in which Captain Scott and his doomed Antarctic explorers waltz on the Ross Ice Shelf), and now—thanks to the good offices of Erika Goldman and the excellent Bellevue Literary Press—Love Among the Particles.”

Continue reading Norman’s playlist at Largehearted Boy—one of our favorite places on the Internet. It is, in the words of its curator David Gutowski, “a music blog featuring daily free and legal music downloads as well as news from the worlds of music, literature, and pop culture.” In the “Book Notes” series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.


A Conversation with Carol Ann Rinzler on Leonardo’s Foot

Q: How did you come to write about the human foot?

A: I had just published the 5th edition of Nutrition for Dummies and was looking about for my next project. I started the search for a subject (a moment all writers anticipate with both pleasure and dread) and my first thought was to explore the cleft lip/palate, but that lacked reach beyond the medical. My second idea was rubella, but there is already an excellent book on that. And then I thought about the foot—inelegant, overlooked, underreported and completely indispensable  (it turns out) to our climb out of the caves into modern civilization. While it is common to credit our progress to the evolution of our increasingly more complex brain, in fact, we stood straight before we began to think straight, and our two feet have influenced our language, our politics, our religion, our legislation and, of course, our medicine.

Who could resist such a mix? Continue reading…


Bellevue Literary Press board member Jan Vilcek, MD, PhD receives the National Medal of Technology and Innovation

“It’s clearer than ever that our future as a nation depends on keeping th[e] spirit of curiosity and innovation alive in our time. These honorees are at the forefront of that mission.”

—President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama honored Jan Vilcek, MD, PhD with a prestigious National Medal of Technology and Innovation during a White House awards ceremony on February 1. This year eleven individuals received this medal, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government upon scientists, engineers, and inventors. We are deeply grateful to Dr. Vilcek for his service on our board—and for the contributions he has made to the arts and science communities throughout his extraordinary career.


A Conversation with Michèle Forbes on Ghost Moth

Q: Set in Belfast, Ghost Moth alternates between the 1940s and the period leading up to what came to be known in Northern Ireland as “The Troubles,” the late 1960s. What interested you in these time periods?

A: Belfast in the late 1940s was a very different city to the one in which I grew up. I remember hearing stories about that time from my father. Although still recovering as a city in the aftermath of the Second World War, Saturday nights would see the city bustling with crowds, with people queueing for cinema tickets and dancehalls, lively couples in busy cafés, and families happy to stroll the streets and window-shop late into the evening. As a teenager growing up in Belfast in the ’70s this seemed to me a strange and exotic thing, that a city could be vibrant, exciting, and safe.

This contrast in how I experienced  growing up in Belfast with the idea that a very different city could and had existed was important to me. As a writer I wanted to explore that difference. I knew I couldn’t ignore the fact that by the end of the summer of 1969, Northern Ireland was on the brink of a civil war—no writer writing about that time can—but I also wanted the narrative to remain insular, to be able to focus on the protected world of the child, the family, the home. I believed that even in the face of such impending political turmoil, smaller stories still had their place. That was a difficult tenet to hold on to. But I held onto it, and still do. Continue reading…


Music to Read By: Michèle Forbes’ Playlist for Ghost Moth

Michèle Forbes shares her playlist for Ghost Moth at Largehearted Boy:

“Music has always played a vital part in my creative life. In my work as an actress I have performed in many new plays that utilized original scores and this can mean being lucky enough to end up working together with musicians on stage. I listened to music mostly when I was driving over the period in which I worked on Ghost Moth. It was a great way for ideas to casually and creatively knit together for me, for images and words to link in new way and just to let the subconscious do its work. The music I’ve chosen here either appears in Ghost Moth as an integral part of the story, played its part in inspiring me to write the novel in the first place, or just kept me going.”

Continue reading Michèle’s playlist at Largehearted Boy—one of our favorite places on the Internet. It is, in the words of its curator David Gutowski, “a music blog featuring daily free and legal music downloads as well as news from the worlds of music, literature, and pop culture.” In the “Book Notes” series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.


“A Book Can Change the World”: Gordon Weiss on The Cage

As a publisher, it is one thing to believe that our books can change the world, but it’s an extraordinary feeling when those responsible for focusing attention on global affairs discover a book that guides their thinking. With The Cage: The Fight for Sri Lanka and the Last Days of the Tamil Tigers, we have published such a book. As diplomat Charles Petrie, who investigated the United Nation’s role and responsibilities during the Sri Lankan conflict, said:

“When I was commissioned to do this report, the first thing I was handed was a copy of The Cage. Weiss’s scrupulously balanced account should serve as a guidepost for decision-makers and scholars of international affairs. A book can change the world.”

Read more from Gordon Weiss about why he wrote The Cage:

My objective in writing The Cage was to challenge the myth that few civilians had been killed during the crushing of the Tamil Tigers by Sri Lankan government forces in 2009. I wanted to argue that given the nature of the long civil war, it was in some sense predictable that the conclusion of the war would be extremely vicious.

I had also been thinking about, or dealing with, many of the matters I discuss in this book in my daily work with the United Nations: human rights, international law, war, insurgency groups, nationalism, idealism, historical events, global currents, and the media, so The Cage was also an opportunity to distill some of those ideas, and bring them to bear on the topic at hand. Continue reading…


Tim Horvath on the inspiration behind Understories

The title of the collection, “Understories” has several layers of meaning. The most literal is a reference from “The Understory” to the plants that grow at the base of the forest canopy, farthest from the crowns’ light and glory but just as critical to the overall habitat, and surely as intriguing when you hunker down close and know what to look for. I took a class called Forest Communities of New Hampshire where we went out hiking and examined the various layers in different forest stands, and I was amazed at how much you could learn by looking down as well as up and discerning connections between the levels. Even in “The Understory,” though, the word has a double meaning, referring also to the hidden stories, the stories that lie underneath the received version of events or the surface narrative that a person presents. Continue reading…


A Conversation with Eduardo Halfon on The Polish Boxer

Q: The narrator of The Polish Boxer shares your name and the entire novel has been described as semi-autobiographical. What does fiction allow that a memoir would not?

A: To me, all literature is fiction disguised as memoir. Or perhaps memoir disguised as fiction. In other words, in my own work, I don’t see the difference between these two genres. I start writing from within, from myself, from my own experiences, but somewhere before the words hit the page they get shellacked with a coat of fiction. I can’t describe this process. And I don’t pretend to understand it. There’s something magical, and surreal, and intimate, and absolutely ludicrous about writing fiction. Continue reading…


Notes on the Translation of The Polish Boxer & More About the Translators

The Polish Boxer brought together author Eduardo Halfon and an international group of five accomplished translators who—instead of competing for a contract—decided to work in concert with each other to deliver an exquisite manuscript. Their collaboration is a concrete example of the passion Halfon’s work generates among English-speaking readers and further proof that exhilarating literature has no geographic or linguistic boundaries.

Discover even more about the book’s remarkable path to English publication from author Eduardo Halfon at New Spanish Books. 

A Note from Translator Daniel Hahn

Doing any kind of creative work collaboratively entails certain risks. Writing is no exception; and translators are, of course, creative writers. Sharing the task of creating a voice between two different writers can lend the text an uneasy irregularity; sharing it between five is more than a little foolish. But that’s what we’ve done with The Polish Boxer. It helped that all five translators (and author Eduardo Halfon) have taken part in the British Centre for Literary Translation’s annual summer school, so we did have some experience of the pleasures and challenges of collaborative translation work. The aim was always to produce one final translation, a single unified text, rather than lots of different-flavored fragments all sort of bolted together, a hybrid with all-too-visible joins. And I believe we’ve succeeded, too. Continue reading…


Literature as Life’s Laboratory: Welcome to Our New Website

Thanks to the dedicated staff at Sonnet Media, we now have a place to share all the stories behind the books we publish. Over the coming months, we’ll be adding Q&As with our authors, excerpts from their books, reading group guides, videos, and more. We are also excited to unveil our new logo, which impressed author Jonathan D. Moreno as being an accurate reflection of our belief that literature is indeed life’s laboratory. We hope you’ll visit us often to enjoy our latest concoctions.

While we’re thrilled to have found a new home online, it may be many weeks before we can return to our office in Bellevue Hospital Center. In the New England Journal of Medicine, our board member Eric Manheimer offers a personal reflection on Hurricane Sandy, aptly quoting Theodore Rothke in his epigraph: “In a dark time, the eye begins to see.”

Also in the New England Journal of Medicine, Danielle Ofri, our board member and the editor of The Best of the Bellevue Literary Review, recounts the extraordinary efforts of New York University Medical Center staff in the wake of the hurricane and beautifully evokes the reason we are so proud to be a part of the NYUMC community:

“Bellevue’s enormity is more than its imposing physical presence, more than its legacy as the oldest public hospital in the country, more than its outsized reputation in popular culture. Its grandeur resides in its status as a living, breathing medical organism. It possesses a gritty industriousness and a cacophonous vitality. The ferocious loyalty it has engendered for the past 276 years is apparent in its staff as well as its patients. Many of us have spent our entire working lives at Bellevue and couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”

We can’t wait to get back.

UPDATE: We are thrilled to announce, that as of March 29, 2013, we have returned to our offices in Bellevue Hospital.

 


Music to Read By: Melissa Pritchard’s Playlist for The Odditorium

Melissa Pritchard shares her playlist for The Odditorium at Largehearted Boy:

“The eight stories in The Odditorium took shape as I exhumed human ‘curioddities,’ to borrow Robert Ripley’s coinage, attempting to conjure historical persons dwarfed by neglect or mythicized and made into hollow giants—each one imprisoned, unmoving, within glass cabinets of half-fact and false fact. I listened to almost no music as I wrote these pieces, since it seemed to take every last aural wit I possessed to ‘hear’ what a specific time and place, what specific persons, might sound, look and think like. So the original playlist for this collection is largely subliminal, made up of quaint, sublime, sorrowing or frantic compositions and ghostly harmonies, sung by voices begging redress, exoneration, new life and breath.”

Continue reading Melissa’s playlist at Largehearted Boy—one of our favorite places on the Internet. It is, in the words of its curator David Gutowski, “a music blog featuring daily free and legal music downloads as well as news from the worlds of music, literature, and pop culture.” In the “Book Notes” series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.


Music to Read By: Tim Horvath’s Playlist for Understories

Tim Horvath shares his playlist for Understories at Largehearted Boy:

“There are a handful of stories in the collection—they literally fit in the palm of the hand—that remind me of Minutemen songs—short, thwacky, flirting with absurdity, but, one hopes, possessing a logic of their own. Several of the two or three pagers are like this. What I love about the Minutemen is what I love in the best flash fiction, the way they subvert expectations in a matter of words/chords/minutes (usually two or less), their sublime way of making things gel, their staccato wit, the way they tinker endlessly with form. Or maybe you’d want to call them poets, formal poets who leap from villanelle to haiku to sonnet to form upon form of their own idiosyncratic invention without missing a beat. There are some pieces in Understories I’d consider more prose poems than stories, and they’re the ones that take about a minute to read.”

Continue reading Tim’s playlist at Largehearted Boy—one of our favorite places on the Internet. It is, in the words of its curator David Gutowski, “a music blog featuring daily free and legal music downloads as well as news from the worlds of music, literature, and pop culture.” In the “Book Notes” series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.


A Conversation with Gregory Spatz on Inukshuk

Q: What is the significance of the title, Inukshuk?

A: For the longest time the book had another title, which I never liked: Ice Masters. That title always made me picture a figure-skating tournament or exposition, but I couldn’t think of anything else to call the book, so I seemed stuck with it. Then, as often happens in the final stages of drafting and revising a thing, I was struck by something out of the blue and just kind of knew, like the proverbial light bulb coming on—there’s my titleContinue reading…


Music to Read By: Gregory Spatz’s Playlist for Inukshuk

Gregory Spatz shares his playlist for Inukshuk at Largehearted Boy:

“I grew up hearing my parents sing and play as a ’60s folk-rock duo. All of my earliest recollections have to do with that music —a constant soundtrack—and not just their music either, but anything I loved and happened to get my hands on: The Beatles, Frank Zappa, Boccherini, The Clancy Brothers, Mendelsohn, The Red Clay Ramblers, Fairport Convention and Vivaldi were memorable favorites. I was musically obsessed, and a musical omnivore. And at that age I was also completely sure that there was zero distinction between the music I loved and whatever stories I was reading or engrossed in.”

Continue reading Gregory’s playlist at Largehearted Boy—one of our favorite places on the Internet. It is, in the words of its curator David Gutowski, “a music blog featuring daily free and legal music downloads as well as news from the worlds of music, literature, and pop culture.” In the “Book Notes” series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.