Exploding Maps at the Ace Hotel, 2 April


Visual Editions is exploding their book of maps, Where You Are, inside the Lobby Bar at Ace Hotel Shoreditch. VE and I have been working with Ace’s excellent cultural engineer Vickie Hayward on a live Great Looking Story with Londoners/authors/mapmakers/so-much-more Adam Thirlwell, Joe Dunthorne and Dazed and Confused’s Stuart Hammond.

 It’s all happening on Wednesday 2 April. Doors and drinks at 18.30 and readings and conversation at 19.00. Email Leah [at] visual-editions [dot] [com] if you fancy joining, just so we can manage numbers a bit. Or if you can’t make it then, come see the literary explosion throughout April. Oh, and it’s free, free, free.

Now on Audible UK’s Blog…

Hello sweet readers,

Wondering what to read next? I’m listening to a range of titles, from bestsellers to young adult fantasy to literary fiction, for AudibleBlog.co.uk and giving my two cents. Come along for the ride! Soon, we’ll go to Spain with Helen Walsh, have a chat with Kamila Shamsie, revisit Eleanor Catton’s debut novel, and listen to fantastical tales of the Norse gods and witches in modern-day England. Let’s start with Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. It starts like this:

Reese Witherspoon looks every bit the part of Cheryl Strayed in the forthcoming feature film adaptation of her memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT): flared nostrils and a defined jaw, Witherspoonian signifiers of strength and determination, her small body overshadowed by Monster, Strayed’s Mini-Cooper sized backpack.

I mentally high-fived Witherspoon for producing the film and securing the lead role. The conversation about the dearth of parts available for actresses who are no longer JLaw and not yet Judi Dench is an old one, but still, unfortunately relevant. If there is a gap in parts, there is a gap in narrative. (Reese tells us more here.)

As I devoured this transformational story of a woman who hikes her way out of a personal darkness and family tragedy over the course of a solo hike from Southern California to Oregon that crosses deserts, forests and mountains, I kept thinking how unusual a story of a woman journeying on her own is — especially one who comes to no harm.


Yes, Strayed’s unending constellation of foot traumas are a kind of harm and the reader frets for her well-being as she reminds us that she is inadequately prepared for her trip. She can’t use a compass; she doesn’t bring enough water to the desert. And somehow the most nerve-wracking moments are when she needs to hitch a ride.

In The American Reader Vanessa Veselka writes about her fruitless search for the stories of teenage hitchhikers who were murdered by The Truck Stop Killer. No one who was where the girls had been in the 1980s in the US or where they were found remembers them at all. Veselka suggests: “When a man steps onto the road, his journey begins. When a woman steps onto that same road, hers ends.” (Read the rest of the post here.)

Readux Books Series 2

Screen Shot 2014-03-21 at 15.26.19The latest Readux series is out, with my translation of “The Lesson”, Cilla Naumann’s story of a teacher pushed too far and the heavy scent of puberty. I love it in the way I love David Mamet’s Oleanna. Readux hosted a launch party at the Waldo Bar in Berlin this week, where the pre-equinox evening seemed to make us all lovestruck. Philipp Schöntaler and Felicitas Hoppe were there, charming the audience with their stories (respectively) of free-diver who quotes Descartes and cliched phrases and the kind of hotel tale you get in Grand Hotel … or from that Wes Anderson fellow.

Click, buy, read on. You’ll fall in love, too, I promise.

@Afurakan: Black Rock




Wangechi Mutu

Love Wangechi Mutu. 


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An Open Letter from Richard Russo

I love this so much, I had to repost it. My adoration of Richard Russo is increased. Dig him here on NPR. Thank you, Literary Death Match! Enjoy.

@richardrusso (LDM Austin, Ep. 1 judge)

An Open Letter to My Fellow Authors

It’s all changing, right before our eyes. Not just publishing, but the writing life itself, our ability to make a living from authorship. Even in the best of times, which these are not, most writers have to supplement their writing incomes by teaching, or throwing up sheet-rock, or cage fighting. It wasn’t always so, but for the last two decades I’ve lived the life most writers dream of: I write novels and stories, as well as the occasional screenplay, and every now and then I hit the road for a week or two and give talks. In short, I’m one of the blessed, and not just in terms of my occupation. My health is good, my children grown, their educations paid for. I’m sixty-four, which sucks, but it also means that nothing that happens in publishing—for good or ill—is going to affect me nearly as much as it affects younger writers, especially those who haven’t made their names yet. Even if the e-price of my next novel is $1.99, I won’t have to go back to cage fighting.

Still, if it turns out that I’ve enjoyed the best the writing life has to offer, that those who follow, even the most brilliant, will have to settle for less, that won’t make me happy and I suspect it won’t cheer other writers who’ve been as fortunate as I. It’s these writers, in particular, that I’m addressing here. Not everyone believes, as I do, that the writing life is endangered by the downward pressure of e-book pricing, by the relentless, ongoing erosion of copyright protection, by the scorched-earth capitalism of companies like Google and Amazon, by spineless publishers who won’t stand up to them, by the “information wants to be free” crowd who believe that art should be cheap or free and treated as a commodity, by internet search engines who are all too happy to direct people to on-line sites that sell pirated (read “stolen”) books, and even by militant librarians who see no reason why they shouldn’t be able to “lend” our e-books without restriction. But those of us who are alarmed by these trends have a duty, I think, to defend and protect the writing life that’s been good to us, not just on behalf of younger writers who will not have our advantages if we don’t, but also on behalf of readers, whose imaginative lives will be diminished if authorship becomes untenable as a profession.

I know, I know. Some insist that there’s never been a better time to be an author. Self-publishing has democratized the process, they argue, and authors can now earn royalties of up to seventy percent, where once we had to settle for what traditional publishers told us was our share. Anecdotal evidence is marshaled in support of this view (statistical evidence to follow). Those of us who are alarmed, we’re told, are, well, alarmists. Time will tell who’s right, but surely it can’t be a good idea for writers to stand on the sidelines while our collective fate is decided by others. Especially when we consider who those others are. Entities like Google and Apple and Amazon are rich and powerful enough to influence governments, and every day they demonstrate their willingness to wield that enormous power. Books and authors are a tiny but not insignificant part of the larger battle being waged between these companies, a battleground that includes the movie, music, and newspaper industries. I think it’s fair to say that to a greater or lesser degree, those other industries have all gotten their asses kicked, just as we’re getting ours kicked now. And not just in the courts. Somehow, we’re even losing the war for hearts and minds. When we defend copyright, we’re seen as greedy. When we justly sue, we’re seen as litigious. When we attempt to defend the physical book and stores that sell them, we’re seen as Luddites. Our altruism, when we’re able to summon it, is too often seen as self-serving.

But here’s the thing. What the Apples and Googles and Amazons and Netflixes of the world all have in common (in addition to their quest for world domination), is that they’re all starved for content, and for that they need us. Which means we have a say in all this. Everything in the digital age may feel new and may seem to operate under new rules, but the conversation about the relationship between art and commerce is age-old, and artists must be part of it. To that end we’d do well to speak with one voice, though it’s here we demonstrate our greatest weakness. Writers are notoriously independent cusses, hard to wrangle. We spend our mostly solitary days filling up blank pieces of paper with words. We must like it that way, or we wouldn’t do it. But while it’s pretty to think that our odd way of life will endure, there’s no guarantee. The writing life is ours to defend. Protecting it also happens to be the mission of the Authors Guild, which I myself did not join until last year, when the light switch in my cave finally got tripped. Are you a member? If not, please consider becoming one. We’re badly outgunned and in need of reinforcements. If the writing life has done well by you, as it has by me, here’s your chance to return the favor. Do it now, because there’s such a thing as being too late.

Richard Russo
December 2013

Lady Rizo: Debut Album and Tour

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At the Latitude festival this summer, Lady Rizo appeared on stage and in the first few minutes of the show made not one, but two, fisting jokes. Oh my darlings, you know I fell in love. Not only is she wildly witty with a sharp, dirty mind, she sings like no one else and beautifully.

By the end of the show, she had the whole audience in the palm of her gloved hand. I’m not sure where the small troupe of bright young thing came from, but as she was saying goodbye, to up-beat beat after anecdotes of being a singer on a cruise ship that made us all want to follow our rainbows, kids clad in glitter, torn t-shirts and awning striped trousers stormed the audience and flung themselves into some sort of wild impromptu choreography. Now Violet, her first album, is coming out, she’s touring: London, New York, the West Coast. Download the free track below. Go see a show, and I can’t wait to hear her debut album.

INVERSE-EVOKE: Art and Text – London,19-28 November


Kanitta Meechubot is showing five new works in an upcoming group show at RK Burt Gallery, London. Of these works, Meechubot says: “For the past four years, I have constantly developed the hand cutting paper from images into three-dimensions sculpture pieces. I explore to keep the beautiful moment of love and pain in life. Within these moments we collect, will engrave in memory lead us to trace back in time.” The seven other participating artists are Pip Dickens, Annabel Dover, Christina Eberhart, Maryvonne Holzer, Soon Yul Kang, Jeff Lowe and Ernesto Romano.

Private view: Tuesday, 19 November 2013, 18.30 – 20.30

RK Burt Gallery  57-61 Union Street, London, SE1 1SG

Exhibition dates: 20 November – 28 November 2013
Monday – Friday 12.00 noon – 17.00

The exhibition is accompanied by a number of lunch time talks.

  • Clifford Burt, The World of Paper, Wednesday 20 November 2013, 13.30 – 13.45
  • Kanitta Meechubot, Paper-cutting demonstration, Thursday 21 November 2013, 13.30 – 13.45
  • Ernesto Romano, Meristem & Soul, Thursday 28 November 2013, 13.30 – 13.45


A Tribute to Carlos Batts – November 15 – One Night Only Fundraiser at Antebellum


On 15 November, for one night only, the Los Angeles arts community will flood Antebellum Gallery in Hollywood with love and artworks, in the memory of Carlos Batts and to raise funds for his widow April Flores. Batts, filmmaker, photographer, artist, passed away suddenly, unexpectedly, at age 40 on October 22. His wife and muse April Flores has been hit with costly bills and the community is rallying to raise money to defray these charges.


Carlos and April were two of my favorite people to run into when I lived in LA. Their light, light of love, of creativity, of kindness, shone brightly, uniquely. Carlos’s vision for the place and the expression of the erotic in culture is necessary and potent. I loved how his body of work unfolded. The fabric of his work was woven together with his muse, April. Having a partner in crime, a partner in art, is a blessing. Looking at the outpourings of love and support, I get the feeling that the community will keep the light of love and art burning for April, from this day and beyond. I wish I could be there to give my support. So instead, dear readers, go to Antebellum, spend the night supporting April, getting to know or remembering dear Carlos.

The fundraiser and silent art auction will take place at Antebellum Gallery on Friday, November 15 from 6 – 9 PM. Antebellum Gallery is at 1643 N, Las Palmas in Hollywood 90028 (323 856~ 0667, antebellum@earthlink.net). 21 and over. No host bar.

Works of art will be on display and ready to be picked up by winning bidders that night. All of the proceeds will go to medical bills and funeral expenses.

Artists include some of the biggest names in contemporary art including Coop, Matthew Bone and Shepard Fairey have donated works. Photographers including Gregory Bojorquez, Patrick Hoelck, Eric Kroll and Estevan Oriol will have work in the silent auction. Adult Entertainment icons Buck Angel and Nina Hartley will also have artwork available for bid.

A partial list of participating artists follows and more are expected:

Ramzi Abed, Buck Angel, Axis, Matthew Bone, Greg Bojorquez, Tommi Cahill, Jim Caron, Rick Castro, Collin Christian, Sas Christian, Chas Ray Crider, Bob Coulter, Michael Delahaut, Steve Diet Goedde, Shepard Fairey, Ed Fox, Roger Gastman, Nina Hartley, Chris Haston, Dave Naz, Kimberley Kane and more.

Donation details:

PayPay email address:
Donations can be directly sent to Bank of America account:
Angelica Centeno
3250 3004 6353

Hang Out with Visual Editions in Houston and Online


Visual Editions’ (VE) Where You Are live events give you the chance to hear Geoff Dyer and Joe Dunthorne, and Sheila Heti and Tao Lin tell you all about growing up in Cheltenham, mapping literary landscapes, modernising the I Ching to help find your way when you’re lost, and mapping crazy sci-fi hamsters in 2027.

It’s their very first venture into the world of Google Hangouts (and mine, too). Geoff will join VE from the US, Joe will be in the VE in the office, Sheila from Toronto and Tao in Manhattan.

Nov 14th at 4pm GMT/ 11am EST with Geoff Dyer and Joe Dunthorne
Nov 19th at 4pm GMT/ 11am EST with Sheila Heti and Tao Lin

Join us if you can. And join the conversation on Twitter using #whereyouare.

For Houstonites, Peter Turchi will be live and in person at Brazos Bookstore on 15 November  at 19:00. They’re also selling Where You Are for $30 (instead of $50). Good deal!