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Archive for the 'Events' Category

Posts related to events happening at Powell’s

A Weekend of State by State!

"The thing is, you can't assume anyone gives a damn about an author talking."

So says my boss, Dave Weich, in the current issue of The Willamette Week.

The occasion for the article is the Out of the Book film Dave produced about State By State: a Panoramic Portrait of America, the book co-edited by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey.

"A movie about a book has to be interesting in and of itself," he says. "If it’s not, you’re doing something wrong."

So, why make a movie about a book? Simple. In a world of Twitter and viral video, mainstream booksellers still rely on the same expensive and unimaginative marketing vehicles — readings and print ads — that were popular during the Space Race.

The book is certainly receiving its fair share of favorable reviews. A mere smattering:

"This eclectic collection of essays describing the ordinary people and places within our 50 states is as essential as the ...

Live from New York… It’s State by State!

Did you catch this item in the current issue of The New Yorker?

Lately, the people at Powell's Books, in Portland, Oregon, have been making short films about books and authors they like, including Ian McEwan and David Halberstam. The latest work to get this treatment is the new anthology State By State: a Panoramic Portrait of America. They've created a forty-two-minute film featuring interviews with contributors to the book, which was inspired by the W.P.A. state guides, introduced during the Great Depression. It has its New York première on Sept. 18 at 7 at the Cantor Film Center during an event that includes an introduction by the book's editors, Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey, and the film's producer, David Weich. Lawrence Weschler, of the New York Institute for the Humanities, will then moderate a discussion with Weiland, Wilsey, and many of the authors in the book, including Charles


State by State: Coming Soon!

State By State, a "wonderful...beguiling" collection (Publishers Weekly, starred review) of 50 original essays, resurrects a landmark effort from the 1930s when the Federal Writers' Project commissioned America's best authors "to describe America to Americans." What do we talk about when we talk about our states?

Why are we so excited about State by State? Is it because this is a truly kick-ass book that every American (and everyone else, as well) should be — and, we predict, soon will be — hungrily devouring?

Or because we liked the book so much we had to go and make a film about it?

Or both of the above and then some?

But don't just take our word for it — check out Carolyn Kellogg's piece in the Los Angeles Times!

Whatever the reason, you should join us next Monday, September 22nd, along with Live Wire's Courtenay Hameister, State by State editor Sean Wilsey, author Daphne Beal, and other special guests at a one-night-only Portland screening of ...

Lost Returns — and so Does J. Wood!

Hard to believe it's already been nine long months since the Season Three finale of Lost.

Even harder to believe it's been just as long since the last Lost post from Living Lost author J. Wood!

The wait is over...

Season Four of TV's most gripping and nearly unfathomable (without J.'s help, at least) drama will air on Thursday, January 31st, at 9/8 central on ABC. (Check local listings — you know the routine.)

Tune in the next day for the premiere of J. Wood's Season Four blog analysis — and come back every Friday (writer's strike permitting) right up to the end of the season!

And if you've forgotten where we left off, revisit J.'s post on the mind-blowing season finale!

Lost fanatics, set your tongues to "wag."

The Stephen Colbert Book Release Party!

I understand that J.K. Rowling is the big ticket in the book world these days but why should she and her fans have all the midnight book release fun? A couple of months ago, while still basking in the afterglow of this summer's Harry Potter party, I was chatting with the store manager about whether the midnight party option would ever be feasible (or worth doing) again. I mean, it's going to be hard to ever top the feelings of a Potter bash — all the happy kids, music, costumes, and, let's face it, full cash registers, make those events hard to beat. We should count ourselves lucky to have an actual literary phenomenon in our lifetime. One with children, no less. And we all know that children are our future. But if children are the future, then what is now?

Enter Stephen Colbert and his "Colbert Nation."

So we're throwing a party.

But this time we're trading in the wizard wands for bottles of beer, ditching fantasy for terrible (hilarious?) reality, and popping all those cheery balloons in favor of — well, okay, there will still be balloons, but this time only red, ...

Out of the Book: DC Day 1

[Editor's note: Dave gets his capital letters back from the cleaners on Tuesday!]

five a.m. call-time, in front of rick's apartment on west 57th street, manhattan.

starbucks on the new jersey turnpike, just so you know, isn't open before seven o'clock.

a thrilling day of interviews, though.

bob woodward's house in the georgetown district of DC has a broad, wooden, spiral staircase aside the foyer, climbing toward a four-floor tower. it's a kinda nice house. he had given a lot of thought to what he would say. he made sure to tell us, for instance, on camera, how he and david had disagreed about some things; that david to some extent couldn't abide by woodward interviewing george w. bush — "giving bush," woodward said, "that much of a voice." david was never afraid to express himself; we've been hearing as much over and over. clearly woodward respected that. he brimmed with admiration. and he recognized source material when he saw it, these cameras in his sitting room. if today's words someday found their way into david's biography, or some lasting historical text — a peer's reaction upon the great man's passing — woodward would ...

Out of the Book Takes Manhattan

I'm in New York. We start filming tomorrow, gathering B-roll around the city before the Times Talk at 6:30.

Some choice bits:

A very special guest might participate in the NYC premiere. We interview him later this week. No promises, but still: could be cool. McNally Robinson is already promoting the event on its Home page. Go, McNally Robinson!

Had breakfast this morning with Will Schwalbe, Halberstam's editor, at Le Pain Quotidian, near Hyperion's office. Ate soft-boiled eggs. What is the etiquette-friendly way to crack and peel a soft-boiled egg, anyway? I'd never eaten one in public, so I watched Will crack his before starting mine.

After breakfast, Jimmy (the director, who edited the McEwan film) and I met up outside the Halberstams' apartment. We talked with Jean, David's widow, for a half-hour or so in her living room, getting to know each other, trading stories. She showed us his office: family photos, a wooden helicopter model, autographed baseballs, boxes of notes for The Coldest Winter.... Then Jean leashed up Sasha, their ten-year-old dog, and we set out on the route David took each morning through Central Park, past the Sheep ...

Aprés Harry

Here we are, ten days later, and the air is still buzzing with Harry Potter Party reports! Brockman did a bang-up job giving the play-by-play the night of the party. And here we offer further accounts of all the fun... But, first, get a load of this slideshow!

÷ ÷ ÷

Powell's own intrepid City of Books Kids' Team reporter Sarah H. was walking around with a notebook, interviewing people beginning early in the afternoon of the Big Day. Here is her final report:

The Powell's City of Books Potter Party was a great success. Wizards with umbrellas instead of broomsticks joyfully waited in a line that circled not one, but two city blocks. Excitement hovered in the air, while fans waited for the book that would end an era. As we went about our Friday morning, July 20, 2007, we couldn't help but notice the elation brewing over the midnight release of Book 7. Outside on the sidewalk, near the Couch Street entrance, sat a quiet group of fans carrying a sign that read "We're here for Harry."

As the day rolled on and the line grew longer,


Calexico’s Literary Influences

[Editor's note: See Calexico perform in Portland at the Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell, on Monday, June 19. Click here for more details on the show.]

Calexico, the crosscultural band from Tucson, Arizona, is known around the world for their unique synthesis of pop, mariachi, and spaghetti-Western. Less widely known are their diverse literary influences. While their sound pulls from such varied sources as bossa nova, flamenco, Link Ray, and Tom T. Hall, Joey Burns and John Convertino (the band's primary songwriters) have found lyrical inspiration in distinctly Western writing. Here's a breakdown:

Their earliest literary influeces are the famous Cormac McCarthy and the less widely known Lawrence Clark Powell. McCarthy's Border Trilogy (which consisted of the books All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, and Cities of the Plain) gave a real theme to Calexico's second album The Black Light. The songs are, according to Joey, "tied together"; if we storyboarded them, they would tell a tale of a hotel porter that works the graveyard shift, later leaves with the circus and gets into trouble with a local gang where shots are fired before a woman gets him across the border. The songs' lyrics are so thematically linked that The Black Light has even been described as a concept album.

In a 1998 BOMB magazine interview ("Calexico" by Fionn Meade), the band members said:

Convertino: Well, I was reading McCarthy's Border Trilogy at the time [of the recording] and showed it to Joey and he picked it up and got inspired to respond. It gave a real theme to The Black Light lyrically.

Burns: ...listening to the initial guitar and drum tracks...I thought, Why not bring in the lap steel, violin, and mariachi. It...reminded me of an updated McCarthy novel where worlds and styles come together.

Tied with Cormac for his influence is Southwestern icon Lawrence Clark Powell. This lesser known Arizona and California scholar provided inspiration for the songs "Glowing Heart of the World," "Man Goes Where Water Flows," and "El Morro."

Although not widely known outside of the Southwest, or even within in it for that matter, LCP was so prolific that the University of California-Los Angeles published a "Checklist of the Writings of Lawrence Clark Powell." He was, in his heart and professionally, a librarian (at UCLA). He loved information, mostly of the historical Southwestern and Californian variety, and many of his books are meticulous collections of historical and biographical information. Being a voracious reader, LCP also wrote books about books, including Books in My Baggage: Adventures in Reading and Collecting, A Passion for Books, Books Are Basic, and Little Package: Pages on Literature and Landscape from a Traveling Bookman's Life. It was his regional works, dealing with water and historyand Southwestern culture, that were his greatest contribution to western literature and that influenced Calexico.

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