New Yorker Festival

If you are going to be in New York City on October 5-7, you have no excuse for missing the New Yorker Festival. This three-day festival brings the public face-to-face with “some of the brightest and most innovative minds, across disciplines and from around the world.” Tickets go on sale September 15.

Here are some highlights of the festival (in my opinion), but I encourage you to look through the schedule yourself because all of the events look fantastic.

Friday, October 5:

  • Jhumpa Lahiri and Edward P. Jones readings, 7pm at the Ailey Citigroup Theater ($16)
  • Salman Rushdie and Orhan Pamuk in conversation, 7 pm at the Highline Ballroom ($25)
  • Miranda July and A.M. Homes in conversation, 9:30 pm at the Anthology Film Archives ($25)
  • Norman Mailer and Martin Amis in coversation, 9:30 pm at the Highline Ballroom ($25)
  • Errol Morris and Philip Gourevitch on film project about Abu Ghraib, 8 pm at the Directors Guild of America, ($25)

Saturday, October 6:

  • Anthony Lane and Simon Shama “Let them eat popcorn: Hollywood does history” 1 pm, Acura Stage at the Helen Mills Theater ($25)
  • Ian McEwan interviewed by David Remnick, 1 pm at the Directors Guild of America ($25)
  • Steve Martin interviewed by Susan Morrison, 4 pm at the Directors Guild of America ($25)
  • “Superheroes” panel with Tim Kring, Jonathan Lethem, Mike Mignola, Grant Morrison, moderated by Ben Greenman, 1 pm at the Highline Ballroom ($25)
  • Preview screening of “The Kite Runner” 7:30 pm at the Directors Guild of America ($25)

Sunday, October 7:

  • expensive, mostly non-literary events that you should check out if you have money

So pull out your wallet and spend that beer money on something good for your brain (and then buy a beer afterwards). You might even find yourself slipping into literary rapture.

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Umbrella Etiquette

At the request of one of my readers, this is getting reposted from its original debut on June 25, 2006:

I strongly urge all of my fellow city-dwellers to practice good umbrella etiquette! This may seem inconsequential, but if you live in a crowded city, especially one with excessive pedestrian traffic like New York City, umbrella etiquette is actually a matter of grave concern and public safety. Serious injury and embarrassment can occur because of careless umbrella use. However, if you follow the proper umbrella technique, you can avoid tragic umbrella-related incidents.

1) The move-it-over rule: Fundamental to umbrella etiquette is being aware that you take up more space with an open umbrella than you do without one. If someone is coming toward you on the sidewalk and both of you have umbrellas, move it over. Simply move your umbrella to one side and in this way, you can avoid a collision and possible tangling up of umbrellas.

2) The shorter/taller rule: If there is not enough room to move it over, one person must lift his umbrella and the other person must keep his lowered. This rule is especially handy to keep in mind during rush hour and otherwise crowded situations in which there might be people surrounding you on all sides.

3) The big umbrella rule: There are two kinds of umbrellas: those meant to block rain and those meant to block sun. Beach umbrellas have no place on crowded and slippery sidewalks. Do you really need a six-foot diameter around your head to keep the rain off? Leave the big one at home and purchase a little one for three dollars from a street vendor. Your fellow pedestrians will thank you.

4) The opening/closing rule: Do not open your umbrella in a crowded area. Going back to rule number one, you take up more room with an umbrella than without one. Opening your umbrella while squeezed in next to others could result in collision and possible injury to the face. Closing your umbrella in a crowded area will result in a spray of water onto others. This could prove equally dangerous if you accidentally spray someone with anger management issues. You could find yourself with an earful of curse words or worse.

5) The good judgment rule: Most important to umbrella etiquette, and all sorts of etiquette, is using your good judgment and remaining aware of your surroundings. We all lose track of where we are from time to time, but if you make a conscious effort to make life easier for those around you, your own life will magically become easier as well.

Next time it rains in the city and you must walk with your umbrella open, I sincerely hope that you will remember the basics of umbrella etiquette. Happy travels, everyone!

For more on etiquette, check out Emily Post and her descendants.

The story behind Tannöd

To kick things off, I am reposting this entry written yesterday on my old blog:

The world English rights to Tannöd and Kalteis, both by German author Andrea Maria Schenkel, have sold to British publisher Quercus. Finally! This should have happened sooner considering that Tannöd has been on the bestseller lists in Germany for approximately 36 weeks, and Kalteis jumped onto the list as well immediately after its publication. This week, Tannöd is number 3 and Kalteis is number 1, according to FOCUS Magazin.

Tannöd is a crime thriller based on actual events that took place in the small Bavarian village of Hof Hinterkaifeck in 1922. A farmer, his wife, their widowed daughter, her son and daughter, and the family’s maid were all brutally murdered with a pickaxe in the middle of the night. Several days before the murders, mysterious tracks started to appear in the snow leading from the nearby forest to the farmhouse, and the only house key suddenly went missing. Sometime in the night between March 31st and April 1st, the farmer and his wife, their daughter, and her daughter were killed the stable, and the maid and the young son were killed in the house. The bodies were discovered four days later. Townspeople noticed that the little girl had not gone to school, and the postman saw the mail untouched.

The papers first reported robbery as the motive behind the killings, but the family’s cash, jewelry, and bonds were all still in the house. Further investigation by inspectors from Munich revealed a tense relationship between this family and the townspeople. The family was known to be wealthy but often stingy, hiring help illegally to save money. In addition, the old farmer and his daughter had been convicted of an incestuous relationship in 1915, for which the father went to jail for a year and the daughter for one month. After pursuing several suspects from the town and offering a 100,000 Mark reward for information about the killer, the police still had nothing. The case remains unsolved to this day.

Author Andrea Maria Schenkel recreated this crime in her novel, but she set the story in the 1950s, when postwar Germany was struggling to return to normal life. Schenkel captures the mistrust and religious fervor that gripped Bavaria at the time. Her characters would rather keep their heads down and their noses to the grindstone, but the crime forces them to take notice of each other and their lives. Details surrounding the murder eerily unfold, and the precise language of the novel both reports and terrifies. According to the German press, Schenkel has masterfully captured the Bavarian idioms, something that might be lost in the translation. However, the novel is certainly worth reading when it comes out.

Further sources: Hof Hinterkaifeck, BR-Online (with pictures), Edition Nautilus, Perlentaucher

New and Improved

Welcome to my new digs here at Literary Rapture. Now that I have grown out of my blogger beginnings at Myspace, the time has come to move beyond the realm of social networking and share information with the rest of the web. In addition to covering the book publishing industry and related literary subjects, I will expand other subjects that are noteworthy and awesome.

Let me briefly introduce myself. I work at a small non-profit office in New York City that promotes literature in translation. We get to go to book fairs and hobnob with awesome publishing people. Before I landed this job, translated literature was not something I ever though about. Things have changed. I grew up in Colorado and miss the mountains every day. The first book that made me believe in the power of literature was The Scarlet Letter. Thanks for visiting my blog. Come back soon!