Sunday, October 24, 2021

Launching Magnetic Woman with ISSS on Wednesday!

While it's true that Magnetic Woman was officially published a year ago and has actually been available for most of 2021, the book hasn't had an official launch until now. (Normally, we would almost certainly have done a launch event at the 2020 ASEEES conference, but the conference ended up being virtual and there was no University of Pittsburgh Press book display for me to sign books at and offer passers-by champagne.) So instead, the International Society for the Study of Surrealism (ISSS) is hosting a Zoom launch this coming Wednesday, where I will read portions of the book and all the scholars of surrealism will (schedules permitting) be on hand to ask questions.

CORRECTED TIMES: It's at 7:30 p.m. GMT (8:30 BST) on Wednesday, October 27, which for North Americans translates to 3:30 EDT, 2:30 CDT, 1:30 MDT, and 12:30 PDT. Here's where to see more info and register to attend. It's free.

And, by the way, there's more good news to come...

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Burning and Dodging

Julie Wittes Schlack has a novel coming out in December, Burning and Dodging! As you might guess, photography is one of its topics--as are, figuratively, both burning and dodging. I had the privilege of reading it several months ago, and can recommend it as a wonderfully complex, engaging tale. It is one of my very favorite new novels.

If you pre-order now through the publisher, you'll benefit both Julie and Black Rose Publishing (Julie gets a higher royalty than through, say, Amazon, and the publisher knows people want to read it).

Friday, August 20, 2021

Novel: Deer Season

It's been awhile since I've given a shout-out to anybody else's book... it seemed like there was perhaps a bit of a lull in book announcements among my friends. However, I've now got some new ones to mention, so that's all to the good. First, my colleague Erin Flanagan from over in the English department has a novel out! Erin has previously published two story collections, but this is her debut novel, available from University of Nebraska Press in September (you can order it now). Deer Season is set in Nebraska, is something of a mystery story, and it's getting some rave reviews already over on Goodreads!

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Oliver's Travels

I've been meaning to mention Clifford Garstang's new novel Oliver's Travels, which came out recently from our mutual publisher Regal House and is getting some very good reviews!

Ollie Tucker, a recent college graduate and philosophy devotee, obsesses about truth and the source of knowledge, questioning everything he hears from those close to him. He entangles himself in a ridiculous yet sad relationship with a young woman named Mary, who is suited to him only in that she's equally eager to pursue a life with someone with whom she has so few common interests. Meanwhile, hoping to become a writer, Ollie invents an alter ego named Oliver, who lives an adventurous and cosmopolitan life. But in addition to Ollie's problems with Mary and his dysfunctional family, he's gnawed by a possible repressed memory of his mysterious uncle Scotty (who may or may not be dead) that threatens his relationships and his sexuality. He can't quite remember, and he knows his memory is unreliable. What is the truth? What should he do?

Juliana Converse has written an excellent review at Lit Pub if you'd like to know more before getting your own copy (paperback, e-book or special edition hardcover) from Regal House or your local independent bookstore. It's a funny and sad book with lots of heart.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Yes, There's a Big Toyen Retrospective

Those who follow matters surreal or Czech or artistic closely might be aware that there is a major Toyen retrospective currently on view in Prague. It's called, bilingually, Toyen: Snící rebelka / Toyen: The Dreaming Rebel, and it is curated by Anna Pravdová, Annie Le Brun, and Annabelle Görgen-Lammers.

Naturally, back when the show was in the planning stages, there was no reason to imagine that a global pandemic would hit a year before the opening and still be afflicting world health and world travel in 2021. I hate to think how the curators and their colleagues must have agonized during the past year, wondering whether the show would indeed open on time in April or what. Publishing a book during a pandemic is stressful enough, but the uncertainties of book launching and promotion certainly pale in comparison to the anxieties surrounding putting together a large multi-venue exhibition.

Fortunately, the show did open, but with very limited attendance allowed due to health restrictions. I spent most of my summer break waiting to see if the Czech Republic would let in American tourists, and as soon as I got the good word, I was booking my flight. I was afraid that if I didn't book right away and leave as soon as possible, the pandemic might go wild again (which it already pretty much has, although I think it is still possible to fly from the US and be allowed into the Czech Republic).

My stay in Prague was extremely short and coincided with some insanely humid weather (cool temperatures that were nonetheless scarcely bearable due to the humidity) which I'm sure connected to the terrible rains and flooding in western Germany. However, I did get to see the exhibition twice, as well as going to a few other things and meeting up with a very small number of people. I can also report that although the Czech Republic has its anti-vaxxers, the population of Prague was very diligent about masking in indoor spaces, which was a relief after so much neglect of masking back in the US.

In any case, the exhibition was absolutely gorgeous, beautifully displayed. Totally worth seeing more than once! Of course, as a Toyen scholar I did have some criticisms, which you can learn about in my review of the show for the CRAACE website's blog (CONTINUITY/RUPTURE: ART AND ARCHITECTURE IN CENTRAL EUROPE 1918-1939), but for the most part they don't relate to the experience of viewing the art.

So if you can see this show when it moves on to Hamburg or Paris, by all means do so. I also heard (long ago) that it would come to Chicago, but I haven't been able to verify that that is still going to happen. Let's hope so.

National Gallery Prague, Waldstein Riding School, 9 April to 22 August 2021 (sold out)
Hamburger Kunsthalle, 24 September 2021 to 13 February 2022
Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris, 25 March to 24 July 2022

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Two Zoom Talks on Toyen in One Week!

Two organizations--the San Francisco Public Library and the Czech Center in New York--kindly invited me to do full-length Zoom talks for them on Toyen. By chance, they ended up being just three days apart, so it was important to make sure they were different from one another, especially as the talks are now available long-term on YouTube. Both talks were well attended live and there were many excellent audience questions at each one.

The talk hosted by the Czech Center took place August 5th, and focused on the major Toyen retrospective that is currently on view in Prague (closing August 22nd but sold out). The show will move on to Hamburg, Germany, and to Paris, so additional viewers will get to see it in those cities.

The talk hosted by the San Francisco Public Library took place August 8th, and addressed more of the topics covered in Magnetic Woman. I'm thrilled to report that the Library has purchased no fewer than ten copies of Magnetic Woman, which must surely rank them as the best place in the world to find a library copy!

The Czech Center video is about one hour long and the SFPL video is closer to an hour and a half.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Get Hooked on Magnetic Woman

Lots and lots has been happening, particularly regarding publicity for Magnetic Woman! More details soon, but let's see if I can successfully add the San Francisco Public Library's one-minute YouTube "Get Hooked on" video for the book.