Michael Chabon on Writing

“Writing for me grows out of reading. When I was a child I wanted to become a writer because I loved to read so much. I loved the books I was reading so intensely that I wanted to make my own.” -Michael Chabon

In this intimate video, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author delves further into his origins as a writer, focusing on his first real writing studio, a cramped crawlspace of a work room in his mother’s house.

His latest novel, Telegraph Avenue,  comes out on September 11, and we’re so excited to be hosting him on October 14 as Opening Night of the Hyman S. and Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival! Tickets go on sale September 1.

America, You Sexy B**ch

ImageOn my last road trip, my sister and I bonded over questionable waffles, avoiding the sketchballs outside our motel room in Ohio, and identifying sea life in Georgia.

While the purpose of crossing state lines was just to move our car from Michigan to Florida, it ended up an adventure in American culture.

Future  guests of the DCJCC, Michael Ian Black and Meghan McCain road tripped across America with a unified purpose slightly loftier than my own car-moving purposes: to see if two people with radically different political beliefs could find common ground.

Meghan McCain – a writer for the Daily Beast and is author of Dirty Sexy Politics – and Michael Ian Black – stand-up comedian and star of many movies and TV shows, like The State and VH1’s I Love the 70s/80s/90s – found some hilarious common ground.

From North to South and coast to coast, they see how people in Red states and Blue live their lives. They discuss feminism in the workplace with a Little Rocktrucker mom, sex education with Vegas exotic dancers, and religious tolerance with an imam in Detroit.

In Salt Lake City, Meghan meets her first real anarchist, and in Sedona, Michael not only begins to understand NRA culture but actually shoots a gun for the first time.

A road trip with a lesson: Meghan and Michael find that the one thing everyone they met on their trip shares is love for their country and a desire to see it succeed. The two come away from their journey with hope that Americans can unite during this divisive political age.

We did,” Meghan writes, “and that means anyone can.”

The book is certainly getting buzz; in her first 3 minutes with Jay Leno, Meghan talks pot, gay marriage, birth control and bullies.

On July 12, they’ll be hanging out with us for the whole evening, and we can only imagine what will come out of their mouths. I’ll have to ask them if they have any better waffle recommendations for me…

 

Media Monday: Alicia Oltuski’s Precious Objects

Today’s podcast from the Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival features Alicia Oltuski’s fascinating talk on Precious Objects: A Story of Diamonds, Family, and a Way of Life.

Alicia Oltuski, a 26-year-old journalist and daughter of a diamond dealer, takes readers behind-the-scenes to reveal the shrouded inner workings of the diamond industry and some of its most fascinating characters. Combining interviews with family, friends, dealers, craftsmen, gemologists, scientists, detectives and entrepreneurs with historical research, Oltuski lifts the curtain on the extraordinary world of diamonds.

Right click and “save link as” to download as an MP3
Or listen online here

Book Trailer: Art Spiegelman’s Metamaus

Yesterday in the literary programming office we had a fascinating conversation on what it takes to be a literary genius. It it enough to be a master of your craft? Or do you have to do something completely groundbreaking?

We all agreed, however that whatever your definition, Art Spiegelman’s got the goods.

Legend has it that years ago when Art Spiegelman came here for Nextbook DC, he chain smoked throughout the entire lecture. This time around he’s promised to keep it smoke-free, so  I can only imagine that he’ll be covered in nicotine patches as he discusses his newest work, Metamaus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic, Maus on March 26 as part of Authors Out Loud.

Book Trailer: The Flame Alphabet

Check out this haunting book trailer for the new book The Flame Alphabet, written by Ben Marcus. The premise of the novel:  A terrible epidemic has struck the country and the sound of children’s speech has become lethal.

Erin Cosgrove, the video’s creator, told GalleyCat,  “Some of the scenes were great fun to animate- like the inflatable rabbis and the ‘Jew Hole,’ which sounds a bit dirty saying it off the cuff like that.”

On SOPA

black squareToday, many of the biggest sites on the Internet are “blacking out” to protest SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill in the House) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) in the Senate.

The protest is based around the idea that online piracy is certainly a problem that needs to be addressed, but that these bills won’t actually impact the pirate websites, and instead only hurt everyone else, through censorship.

We use this space to share what we think is interesting and thought-provoking and entertaining. Sometimes we want to share the latest music from upcoming performers at Music Fest, present trailers from the hot new film we’ll screen, and show you that hilarious bit from our favorite comedian. On this blog and our website, we make every attempt to use creative content respectfully, legally, and with permission/attribution.

We love artists, and want you to love them, too! We wonder about all the wonderful ideas, work and performances we’ll be too afraid to share.

We hope you will take today to think about the ways you use the Internet, what sites you use and enjoy, and learn about this legislation.

Book Trailer: Al Jaffee’s Mad Life

I started reading (and enjoying) MAD magazine long before I could have possibly understood it. That’s why I can’t wait to meet iconic MAD contributor Al Jaffee here next month. Jaffee’s real-life back story is darker–and weirder–than  you could imagine.

What We’re Listening To: Jews and the Civil War

It’s 150 years after the end of the Civil War and we still struggle with our neighbors about what it means to be American. We argue over what it means to act appropriately patriotic, to act as a proud citizen.

We are much closer to the Civil War than we may like to think, with a Presidential candidate threatening that his state will secede – and gaining supporters because of that threat. Now, just as then, Jews are found on all sides of the political spectrum, and as we get closer to the next election, these divisions become deeper.

Did we join the Occupy Judaism part of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, and put up a sukkah in Zucotti Park? Or did we make sure to get on the mailing list for the Jewish Tea Party?

Faith has long been a reason to get involved in politics – tzedek, tzedek, tirdof (justice, justice shall you pursue) is the rallying cry of many Jewish groups, not just one side. 150 years ago, what did we think was justice, and where did we all end up?

Tonight is the opening night for the Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival, and the theme is United By Faith, Divided By War: Jews and the Civil War. A series of dramatic readings will recreate the participation of Jews in the Civil War, from statesmen to spies – spies like Eugenia Levy, “a fire-eating secessionist in skirts.”

No, really, there was an incredible amount of Jewish participation; listen to Kojo Nnamdi at 12:30 today on NPR to hear about it, and then see it come to life on stage at the opening tonight.

Because the Civil War’s echoes are still happening all around us.

Book Trailer: Odessa

Tickets go on sale today for the Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival. Charles King’s talk on Odessa is free, but spots are limited. Reserve yours now!

Book Trailer: How the End Begins

Author Ron Rosenbaum will take part in our Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival panel “Israel, Loose Nukes and the End of the World” on November 1.

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