7 p.m. South on Main. Free.
The Oxford American begins its programming at its new South on Main venue with a good'n: author Nathaniel Rich. His latest novel, "Odds Against Tomorrow," has been praised pretty much across the board.
It's about Mitchell Zukor, a young mathematician who takes a job that puts him at the forefront of corporate hedging, calculating the odds of various disasters that might befall society. But soon an actual catastrophe unfolds. It's sort of a comedy of manners/apocalypse thriller that Vanity Fair called "scarily prescient and wholly original."
Rich will read from the book, and if you have not yet secured a copy of it, WordsWorth Books & Co. will have some on hand, presumably so you can get him to sign his name on it. Little Rock-based writer Jay Jennings will emcee, and The John Burnette Duo will play music.
Here's a somewhat rare Sunday event at White Water Tavern: "No Place in Particular," a poetry and music event that promises to be a good time.
It starts at 5 p.m. with poetry readings, with music to follow. Check the flier right above for all the pertinent details. Looks like a very nice way to wind down the weekend.
If you can believe it, it's been 10 years since Yours Truly, David Koon, Arkansas Times reporter and definitely not the secret identity of The Plump Shadow, who strikes fear in the hearts of criminals by cover of night, beheaded my wife's coat rack, stuck a slanted board on top to turn it into a lectern and launched the Times bar reading, Pub or Perish, on the Saturday night of the first Arkansas Literary Festival, which is also celebrating its Tin Anniversary this year. I'm a little grayer and no wiser, but I'm smart enough to know our own 10th year will be a doozy.
After a sojourn to Sixth Street last year, Pub or Perish is coming back home to the River Market for two hours of poetry, fiction, memoir, drinking and fun in the big room at Stickyz. In addition to the great venue, this year looks to be yet another humdinger from the talent side of things as well, with a crew of excellent lit fest and local writers on the bill, including Kentucky "Affrilachian" poet Frank X. Walker, Amoja "MoMan" Sumler, Justin Booth, Sandy Longhorn, Holland Colclasure, Randi Romo, Deb Moore and others, and there will be drink specials all night long.
Best of all is: It's free. Pub or Perish is free, I mean. Not the drinks. Gotta pay for those. You can't win 'em all, my friend.
— David Koon
7:30 p.m., UCA College of Business Auditorium, room 107. Free.
I don't think I've read a book I've liked more than Jennifer Egan's "A Visit from the Goon Squad" since it was published in 2010. The novel, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011, is made up of chapters each told from a different character's point of view, with characters later popping up in supporting roles as the book zips back and forth through time. Most all the stories orbit around an aging punk rocker-turned-record executive and the troubled woman who works for him.
Egan's often categorized as a post-modernist, but "Goon Squad," for all its non-linear-ness, is grounded in always compelling realism. As Egan told Heidi Julavits in Bomb magazine, "More and more I feel you'd better not try and say anything too clearly or too loudly in fiction, because you end up eliminating the mystery that's at the heart of any great literary experience."
Egan will read and sign books on Tuesday and talk craft and answer questions at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Thompson Hall 331.
Little Rock minimalist designer extraordinare Matt Owen has won a contest by Simon and Schuster to design the book jacket for the 60th anniversary edition of Ray Bradbury's seminal dystopian classic, "Fahrenheit 451." You can see the official announcement of Owen's win here.
The Arkansas Literary Festival organizers today announced the author lineup for this year's shindig, scheduled for April 18-21.
Among those who'll be speaking, leading workshops and/or participating in panel discussions are renowned poet CD Wright, Richard Ford ("The Sportswriter," "Independence Day"), cartoonist Ben Katchor, Karen Russell ("Swamplandia!"), food writer and memoirist Salma Abdelnour ("Jasmine and Fire: A Bittersweet Year in Beirut"), Carolyn Briggs (whose memoir "This Dark World: A Memoir of Salvation Found and Lost" was the basis for the film "Higher Ground") and many more.
More details about participating authors are available here. The full schedule won't be out until March, but here are a few of the events you can look forward to. Author! Author! is back, with hors d'oeuvres and drinks for the drinking-age folks. At Write Your Film, Briggs, Raquel Cepeda and Sara Nesson will offer guidance about writing memoirs, documentaries and original narratives.
There's also one called Grey Me Up, Baby, which is about "Fifty Shades of Grey." That is of course the best-selling novel about a young woman and her career working at a paint factory where she's in charge of all the different tones ranging from almost-white to just barely not-quite black. I think that's right.
Anyways, it looks like a really good lineup, and we'll have much more information as it becomes available and an entire issue previewing the festival.
The festival also announced that Academy Award-winning authors Larry McMurtry and Dianna Ossana ("Brokeback Mountain") will be in town May 2-3 for a fundraising event and a reading.
A press release about the author announcement is available after the jump.
You read that headline correctly. Half Japanese — the veteran experimental rock band that has been a cult favorite among music geeks for 35 years — really dug Hot Springs.
The group played a weekend-long residency at Maxine's back in October, at the behest of Thick Syrup Records, the Little Rock label that has released and reissued several works from the band. Half Japanese played, along with solo sets from founding members David and Jad Fair and performances from kindred spirits Ezra Lbs. and The Bloodless Cooties. There were exhibitions of the Fair brothers' artwork, and a screening of the documentary "Half Japanese: The Band That Would Be King." (Side notes: 1. The film is totally entertaining and compelling even if experimental rock isn't your exact specific jam. 2. Here's one of my favorite Half Japanese tunes, this one's with Don Fleming, who also has records on Thick Syrup.)
Apparently, so much fun was had that it necessitated a book to commemorate the occasion. And thus, "All the Doctors in Hot Springs," which is a lyric from Robert Johnson's "32-20 Blues." It's a 48-page book of photos, fliers and more from the weekend, which saw the band performing the song "Lucky Times Lucky Plus Lucky Times Ten" (written just for the occasion) as Thick Syrup founder Travis McElroy proposed to his now fiance Samantha Pirtle.
As the band wrote in the introduction to the book, "What a great time!" They thanked McElroy and Pirtle and all the other folks involved, including Kevin Rogers and Agnes Galecka, who own Maxine's, "the coolest music venue west of Hoboken."
You can pick the book up at Amazon raht cheer.
7:30 p.m. Lyon College's Nucor Auditorium. Free.
You have got to hand it to Davy Rothbart. The Michigan native has elevated a longtime habit of picking stuff up off the ground into a successful career in publishing, writing, filmmaking, This American Life-contributing and seemingly every other creative endeavor imaginable.
Found Magazine, his brainchild, is exactly what it sounds like: a magazine of stuff people found. Of course, the stuff he (and the multitude of contributors who've made Found possible) happened upon is nearly always quite a bit more funny, heartbreaking and/or bafflingly awesome than your typical sidewalk ephemera and grocery store lists.
One evening, many years ago, my best buddy and I were living in an East Coast hellhole and were walking to the bar like we did every night. He found a folded-up piece of paper covered in drawings of what I'll cautiously describe as suggestive and anatomically unlikely depictions of muscular nude men rendered in psychotically heavy pencil strokes. It was obvious from the get-go that he would have to send it to Found.
Imagine my delight when, a couple years later, those works of amorous outsider art showed up in a volume called Dirty Found (take a wild guess about its nature).
Rothbart tours often and came through Fayetteville several years ago. From what I remember of the evening, it was a pretty loosey-goosey affair, with Rothbart reading from Found and talking about finding cool stuff. I don't know, it was at a bar. This one's at a private college. I bet the vibe won't be all that different, though. Rothbart is a true raconteur.
TIMOTHY K. MOORE
11 a.m.-1 p.m. Pyramid Art, Books & Custom Framing. Free.
Noon-3 p.m. Green Corner Store. Free.
For 364 days a year, it pretty much sucks being vegan in Little Rock. But this Saturday, those of us who take our veggies sans bacon and/or butter are in for a double feature from two vegan chefs. From 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Arkansas native Timothy K. Moore will be at Pyramid Art, Books & Custom Framing, answering questions and signing his two books "47 Tips to Reverse Your Diabetes" (through eating plant-based foods, we assume, since this is his whole schtick) and "Vegans Eat What?"
After vegging out at Pyramid, head over to the Green Corner Store, where another Arkansas native and vegan, Bianca Phillips, will be signing copies of her book "Cookin' Crunk: Eating Vegan in the Dirty South," from noon till 3 p.m. Moore and Phillips have different M.O.'s — Moore more straightforwardly wants to keep us healthy, and Phillips, with her meat-free take on family specials and the sugary fare such as a peanut butter and banana Elvis cupcake, wants to keep us happy.
But really, both author/chefs have the same goal — to create dishes free of animal-derived products that nourish both body and soul.
Click here to read an except from the new memoir "Coal to Diamonds," by Judsonia girl-turned-international-superstar Beth Ditto, who is so famous everywhere but the U.S. at this point that she's made the leap from plain ol' rock star to Parisian graffiti icon.
As seen in the excerpt, Beth finally admits they had indoor plumbing in Judsonia when she was a kid (though she goes into great detail about their lack of a septic tank), but sticks firmly to her tales of wanton squirrel-devouring. You can buy the book here, or — better yet, order it through a fine local retailer like Wordsworth Books.
'ESCAPE VELOCITY' LAUNCH PARTY
6 p.m. Main Library. Free.
This right here is a real treat for all of us Charles Portis obsessives: "Escape Velocity," edited by writer Jay Jennings and published by Butler Center Books, collects Portis' nonfiction, short stories, newspaper writings and an unpublished play into one handy and highly enjoyable volume.
I could go on at considerable length about my longtime fixation on Portis' five brilliant novels, but I'll not do that. Just get them and read them. They are incredible, funny, moving works that reveal new layers every time I re-read them.
This launch party will be a great opportunity to share stories and celebrate one of America's finest authors. Jennings will give an introductory talk, writer, actor and erstwhile Times columnist Graham Gordy will read from the book and singer/songwriter Mandy McBryde will perform.
6 p.m. CALS Main Library. Free.
This is a makeup date for the renowned rock critic Greil Marcus, who had to postpone his lecture at the Arkansas Literary Festival earlier this year. It's being presented as part of the Arkansas Sounds Music Festival, which is Sept. 28-29.
Marcus will discuss his book "The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years" with Tom Wood, a DJ with TOM-FM. I'll admit that I've never been the biggest Doors fan in the world, with the exception of "The End." But I'm certainly up for hearing Marcus make the case for the band.
OK, so I suppose that some awful day in the (hopefully distant) future, the printing presses will shut down and everything anyone reads will be on some sort of glowing screen on a device that's so magical and high-tech that my feeble imagination can't even conceive of it.
But until then, there will still be those old souls who want to have it on a physical format, be it vinyl, cassette, 8-track or CD for the music heads or hardbound, paperback or book-on-tape for the bibliophiles.
If you're the sort who fits that description, you might want to head to the 27th annual Arkansas Book and Paper Show, which "promises to be an exciting event for collectors, historians, and those who want to view museum quality materials all available for purchase," said Jeff Baskin, show director in a press release. "Many dealers are from out of state, bringing with them postcards, rare books, leather-bound books, printed ephemera, maps, children's books and much more."
Sounds like a good time for book geeks, obsessive map collectors and other assorted lovers of the printed word. The show continues Sunday, opening at 10 a.m.
Portisologists rejoice, for
scuttlebutt an official press release has it that Butler Center Books will publish "Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany" this fall!
The collection — edited by journalist and humor writer Jay Jennings — will pull together fiction and nonfiction pieces, as well as a play and memoir by the author of "Norwood," "True Grit," "The Dog of the South," "Masters of Atlantis" and "Gringos." The title is taken from a quote by Ray Midge, the narrator of "The Dog of the South."
"A lot of people leave Arkansas and most of them come back sooner or later. They can’t quite achieve escape velocity."
I'm very excited about this collection, but I'll refrain (at least in this space) from going on and on about how much I love Portis's books and how I've read them over and over and whatnot.
The press release is after the jump.
Hot off the presses, it's the latest issue of Fluke fanzine, Matthew Thompson's long-running chronicle of the DIY punk underground in Arkansas and points beyond. Issue No. 10 has actually been out for about three weeks now, but I only just this morning got my supple and un-calloused mitts on a copy.
This ish is heavy on the interviews, with Matt and his contributors sitting down to chat with a character known as Alex the Russian, Burt Taggart of The Big Cats and Max Recordings renown, author (and former member of Blatz!) Anna Joy Springer and Bay Area punk bands Mystic Knights of the Cobra and Emily's Army.
Also featured is a reminiscence from Phoenix, Ariz. punk rocker Steve Davis about reading punk zines back in the '70s, and a piece about the influence of pioneering punk vocalist Alice Bag from Little Rock native J-kNee January, of Seattle band The Januariez. On a somewhat related note: This song by The Bags gave me chills when I first encountered it on a Dangerhouse comp cassette when I was 17, and it still does today. Alice Bag's scream at 1:18 is primal and scary and awesome. It is the best scream in the history of music.
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