Tag Archives: BookExpo America

Should Women Dismiss Beat Literature?

18 Jul

 

funnyfacebookstorewdsdsdsdsdsImage via Dangerous Minds
Google+ was all the talk at BEA this year and last. I’ve been on the social media platform for a while now, but just the other day decided to see how it compares with Facebook for finding the latest conversations on the Beat Generation. I did a keyword search and immediately found an article that was right up my alley: “The Feminist Backlash Against the Beat Generation.”
Kimberly J. Bright writes for Dangerous Minds about her experience viewing the now legendary scroll of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and having another person there remark in surprise that she was there of her own volition. Bright writes:
Their teacher asked me a question about the scroll, obviously assuming that I was a museum employee. When I explained that I was just a visitor, she apologized and said, “But I didn’t think women read Kerouac.”
That was news to me.
The backlash against the Beats in general, and Kerouac in particular, is becoming more evident and is mostly coming from Feminists.
Oh, how I could relate—which Bright noted, referencing my apparently controversial Millions article. Just like Bright, I never knew some works of literature were supposedly for men and others were for women. How silly of me to not realize there was an entire list of writers whom I should ban without reading them to decide for myself or that I should dismiss the literary and cultural merits of a highly innovative and influential body of literature just because certain aspects of it might offend my sensibilities.
I attended a women’s college, where we read a wide breadth of literature and learned to think critically about works—literature that included Allen Ginsberg, Ernest Hemingway, Michel Foucault, Karl Marx, Isaac Asimov, Kathy Acker, comic books, Sigmund Freud, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Samuel Richardson, and Jane Austen. In my MFA program, we specifically discussed the distinction between the author and the work as well as the literary merit versus our individual preferences.
Bright went on to write:
Personally if I purged my bookshelves, real and virtual, of all the alcoholics and misanthropes – let alone all the manic-depressives, opium addicts, suicides, eccentric asexuals, adulterers and misogynists – I would hardly have any books left.
It seems a bit hypocritical, to me, for people to lambast the Beats while still reading other authors whose personal lives and even the content of their work are not any less controversial. This summer everyone rushed out to watch The Great Gatsby, read or reread the novel, and plan their weddings around the theme of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story that placed women as secondary characters, kills off one of the women, glorifies a criminal, includes affairs, and exalts illegal substances. It should also be noted that Fitzgerald is widely known to have plagiarized his wife’s work for some of his own books. If we’re dismissing authors on so-called moral grounds, perhaps we should then also dismiss:
  • Miguel de Cervantes (prison time after the money he collected as a tax collector went missing)
  • Paul Verlaine (prison time after shooting Rimbaud)
  • O. Henry (prison time for embezzlement)
  • Jean Genet (prison time for lewd acts)
  • Leo Tolstoy (secretly abandoned his wife in the middle of the night)
Of course, choosing whose work is “worth” reading becomes problematic because whose morals must we go by? Furthermore, which attributes of a person are more or less important when deciding whether we should read their literature? Should we praise Betty Friedan’s entire body of work because she is pro-choice? Should we dismiss her entire body of work because she did not further lesbian politics? Or vice versa? Should we dismiss her altogether? What about Bill Clinton? Should we not read the former president’s books because he cheated on his wife? Because he wielded his position of power over a twenty-two-year-old intern? Should we dismiss Jack Kerouac’s work because of the way he treated his daughter? Should we praise his work because of the way he treated his mother?
I don’t mean to make light of any of these issues or to excuse anyone from anything. My point is simply that we need to take a closer look as to why we excuse some authors but not others. Why have the writers who have been marketed together as the Beat Generation been targeted while others get a free pass?
And why don’t those so-called feminists who target the so-called Beats acknowledge the many women writers associated with the generation? Here were women who faced tougher socio-political times than we do today who got their own apartments, who studied at well-known undergrads and went on to work toward their MAs, who didn’t just sit around cooking dinner for their husbands but created works of their own. Should we forget their body of work or negatively lump it into a category we don’t read because of their associations?
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Sweet Ride: Penguin Book Truck

30 May

Talk about a sweet ride! Look what I spotted at BookExpo America:

Penguin

That’s the Penguin Book Truck. Here’s Penguin’s press release on it:

Penguin Group (USA) Launches The Penguin Book Truck And Pushcart

NEW YORK, May 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Penguin Group (USA) announced today the launch of its first mobile bookstore: the Penguin Book Truck and the Penguin Book Pushcart.  Inspired by the long tradition of the library book mobile and the recent popularity of food trucks, this mobile bookstore is the perfect way to bring authors and books directly to readers.

The Penguin Book Truck and Penguin Book Pushcart will make their debut on May 30th at New York’s Javits Center during the Book Expo of America.  The Penguin Book Pushcart will be at the Delecorte Theater in New York City’s Central Park for performances at the 2013 season of Shakespeare in the Park.  The Penguin Book Truck and Pushcart will also visit the American Library Association Conference in Chicago, ” Tom Sawyer Day ” at the Mark Twain house in Hartford, CT and numerous other bookstores, festivals, library events and author signings throughout the year.  In October, in conjunction with the National Steinbeck Center’s kickoff of the 75th Anniversary of the publication of John Steinbeck ‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Grapes of Wrath, (published by Penguin) the Penguin Book Truck will travel West on Route 66 from Oklahoma to California, following the route of the fictional Joad Family and stopping at numerous museums, universities and historical sites along the way.

The Penguin Book Truck and Pushcart will stock books from all Penguin Group imprints and include a wide selection of titles by authors ranging from Patricia Cornwell to John Green , Elizabeth Gilbert to Khaled Hosseini , Nate Silver to Sylvia Day as well as Penguin Classics. The selection will also be customized for individual events.

Susan Petersen Kennedy , President of Penguin Group (USA), said: “We think the Penguin Book Truck and Pushcart will allow us to, directly and in partnership with bookstores, connect writers with readers and to spread the iconic Penguin brand in fun and exciting new ways. This will be a movable feast of today’s great books.”

Featuring Penguin’s iconic orange logo the Penguin Book Truck is 27 feet long with 96 linear feet of bookshelves on both sides. The truck is LED lit for nighttime events, has awnings to protect shoppers from the elements, and cafe tables and chairs where browsers can sit and authors can sign books.

The Penguin Book Pushcart is inspired by the design of the classic New York City hotdog cart.  It will be transported by the Penguin Book Truck to various locations including bookstores, parks, beaches, sidewalks in shopping districts, summer theaters, and green markets.

To learn more, view photos and follow the schedule of the Penguin Book Truck and Pushcart, you can visit them online at www.penguinbooktruck.com or follow them on twitter @PenguinBookTruck or on facebook at www.facebook.com/PenguinBookTruck.

About Penguin Group (USA)

Penguin Group (USA) Inc. is the U.S. member of the internationally renowned Penguin Group. Penguin Group (USA) is one of the leading U.S. adult and children’s trade book publishers, owning a wide range of imprints and trademarks, including Viking, G. P. Putnam ‘s Sons, The Penguin Press, Riverhead Books, Dutton, Penguin Books, Berkley Books , Gotham Books , Portfolio, New American Library, Plume, Tarcher, Philomel, Grosset & Dunlap, Puffin, and Frederick Warne , among others. The Penguin Group (www.penguin.com) is part of Pearson plc, the international media company.

Wish I could hitch a ride to Tom Sawyer Day and of course get my kicks on Route 66 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of John Steinbeck‘s novel!

Books and road tripping? Jack Kerouac would be proud. Hm… maybe they’ll let me take a cross-country trip on the Penguin Book Truck when Burning Furiously Beautiful comes out. An author can dream….

My first thought, though, when I heard about the Penguin Book Truck was that it reminded me of a book I had edited come to life:

Parnassus

Christopher Morley’s Parnassus on Wheels.