NOLA BOOK AND LITERARY NEWS

from Nathan C. Martin and Friends.
Walker Percy doesn't really give a shit about roundups. He has more important things to think about.
Walker Percy doesn't really give a shit about roundups. He has more important things to think about.

Some of the web’s more prominent book publications have had Walker Percy on the mind lately. First, at Slate, Benjamin Hedin takes a look at the 1962 National Book Award committee’s decision to give Percy’s The Moviegoer top prize, cementing the New Orleanian’s status as a major figure in late 20th-century fiction. But as Hedin notes, a convergence of factors and colorful characters—including A.J. Liebling, Alfred A. Knopf, and Gay Talese—were involved in what many considered, if not a scandal, then at least a debacle, and potentially an unrighteous endowment of the prestigious award.

Hedin writes:

The short list for the 1962 National Book Award in fiction was remarkable, including a number of works today regarded as classics, like Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates, and Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. Yet the prize went to an obscure first novel by a 45-year-old Southerner, a doctor who contracted TB during his residency and turned to writing instead. No one predicted The Moviegoer by Walker Percy would win, and 50 years later, as we prepare to hear this year’s winner, it remains one of the great upsets in the history of the National Book Awards. But was the fix in?

Meanwhile, over at the Paris Review‘s blog, Spencer Woodman provides an account of turning to Percy’s meditations on hurricanes during his recent weathering of Sandy in New York. Woodman, reading The Last Gentleman by candlelight, was struck with a “lightheartedness that sent me into a blissful stupor that lasted through the storm.” When one thinks of the maddeningly frenetic ways in which many New Yorkers must go about their lives and work in order to pay rent and remain sane, such a condition as Woodman’s must be a pleasant release.

Woodman writes:

Keeping me company during those days was Walker Percy. I had picked his second book—The Last Gentleman—off my shelf after I recalled its strange depiction of hurricanes as philosophically rich events that visit mass existential relief upon entire populations crushed under modern malaise. For Percy, the transformative power of a hurricane lies not just in the immediate excitement, the break in routine it brings, but more so in a storm’s capacity to limit the range of human choice, its ability to deliver a whole city from the chaotic realm of the Possible back the unquestioning mode of the Necessary.

Finally, the Walker Percy Center for Writing and Publishing at Loyola University New Orleans has opened a call for papers for its second biennial Walker Percy Conference, “Still Lost in the Cosmos: Walker Percy and the 21st Century.” The center’s first conference, in 2011, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Moviegoer, attracted Percy scholars and fans from throughout the country, and launched what will likely be an important resource for the study and consideration of the author’s work and life.

Hand-in-Glove Conference Guide

Hand in Glove Conference Guide
Essay by Amy Mackie, edited by Bob Snead, designed by Erik Keisewetter

This beautiful book, designed and printed by Erik Kiesewetter of Constance for the Hand-in-Glove Conference, includes a guide to all of the conference happenings Oct 17-20, 2013, an informative map of the artist run spaces on and around St. Claude Ave, and an extensive essay by Amy Mackie about the history of self organized contemporary art [...]

Photo by Sophie Lvoff in WE'RE PREGNANT

We’re Pregnant
Words by Nathan Martin. Photography by Akasha Rabut, Sophie T. Lvoff, and Grissel Giuliano.

We’re Pregnant is a chapbook of short fiction by Room 220 editor Nathan C. Martin along with photography by Akasha Rabut, Sophie T. Lvoff, and Grissel Giuliano. The book contains three of Martin’s short stories—which explore in morbid fashion anxieties related to sex, disease, marriage, and childbirth—with images inspired by the stories from each of the photographers.

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The People Is Singular
Poems by Andy Young and Photographs by Salwa Rashad

The People Is Singular, by local poet Andy Young and Egyptian photographer Salwa Rashad, is a personal response to the Egyptian Revolution. Rashad’s vision includes everyday people—Muslims and Christians, young and old, the foregrounded and the peripheral. Her perspective is from inside the events as they unfolded. Andy Young, a New Orleans poet married to [...]

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Curtain Optional
by Brad and Jim Richard

In both poetry and prose, Brad Richard explores the influence of his father’s work on his own, as well as the experience of growing up as the son of an artist while becoming an artist himself. Jim Richard is a professor of painting at the University of New Orleans and has exhibited at the Solomon [...]

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How to Rebuild a City
Edited by Anne Gisleson & Tristan Thompson w/ design and artistic direction by Catherine Burke

Beautifully designed, sometimes fun, always informative, How to Rebuild a City: Field Guide from a work in Progress, is a reflection of the many ways that New Orleanians have realized our way towards recovery, actively and creatively engaging with our communities.

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Bitter Ink
by Brian Zeigler & Raymond “Moose” Jackson

BBoth originally from Detroit, cousins Brian Zeigler and Raymond “Moose” Jackson began collaborating while Brian was harboring Moose in Vermont during Katrina evacuation. While their doodling proclivities may have made them rustbelt exiles from the rest of their autoworker family, together they produce seductive aphorisms of wit and weirdness that provoke, confound and celebrate a [...]