phile under: wordstock 2010
Culturephile picks a few can’t-misses.
Wordstock 2010 actually began on Monday, when, with minimal fanfare and maximum wit, playwright Lee Blessing settled into a chair on Reed College’s Mainstage Theater, and read his entire lighthearted monologue masterpiece, Chesapeake. This weekend, the word-slinging continues, with an assortment of events, guest authors, and undoubtedly, new books to browse, buy, and get signed. As cloudy weather closes in, you know you’ll be looking for something to snuggle up and read. Might as well let this weekend’s Wordstock whet your appetite.
Finally, your chance to rub erudite elbows and exchange ink-stained handshakes with Portland’s literati! You never know whom you might see! That said, please schmooze responsibly. Resist the urge to slip someone a mickey and pitch your manuscript.
Hey. Songwriting is writing, too. Lest you have any doubt, I submit the ragged vocals and cryptic phrases of Ms. Hersh, formerly of Throwing Muses. We’re uncertain whether she’ll be singing or speaking, but regardless, the presentation should provide a compelling sample of her style.
David Rakoff’s exceptional wit and deft storytelling have graced the pages of Vogue, Salon, Wired and GQ (writer-at-large, even), and likely wafted from your speakers as you listen to This American Life. He’s won the Lambda Book Award for Humor—twice. Rakoff also played a key role in the production of The New Tenants, which won the 2010 Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film. But through it all, Rakoff perseveres, his signature cynicism intact. As the first like of Rakoff’s newest collection of essays, Half-Empty, attests, “We were so happy. It was miserable.”
PoMo writer Zach Dundas sits in for editor Randy Gragg to discuss the many considerations that go into long-form narrative journalism with Joel Lovell, senior editor at GQ.
In May of 2009, a mere year after filing this lovely garden feature with PoMo, Emily Chenoweth released her debut novel, Hello Goodbye, on Random House. The story of a terminally ill mother bidding farewell to her college-age children at a summer resort purportedly strums the proverbial heartstrings like a ukelele.
As the leader and songwriter of Portland’s Richmond Fontaine, Willy Vlautin has produced nine albums of stories set to an Americana soundtrack. Since the release of The Motel Life in 2006, Vlautin has been equally effective as a novelist. Since then he’s produced two more books, Northline (20008) and his latest, Lean on Pete.
Vlautin employs plainspoken prose and sentimental treatment of down-and-out survivors struggling to eke out a life in the decaying and forgotten corners of the American West. His work has inspired critics to call him “the secret love child of Raymond Carver and Flannery O’Connor” and suggest that if “McMurtry, Johnson, McGuane, and Carver need a fifth to make up a literary five-a-side team, they need look no further than Willy Vlautin.” Did we mention the comparisons to Steinbeck?