Live! From City Lights

Interview with Thomas Page McBee

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Thomas Page McBee speaks to City Lights about his new book, Man Alive. In this recording of the interview, McBee talks about his writing process and how he came to write the memoir. He also talks about his work in The Rumpus and what lays ahead for him in his literary career.

ThomasMcBeeFor more about Man Alive, go here.

Thomas Page McBee

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Book Party for Thomas Page McBee
Thursday, October 9th, 2014, 7:00pm, City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco

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Full recording of the book release party for Man Alive. Thomas Page McBee is introduced by City Lights publisher Elaine Katzenberger. Thomas reads from the book as well as his new material and takes questions from the audience about the book and his current/forthcoming projects.

What does it really mean to be a man?

Man Alive engages an extraordinary personal story to tell a universal one—how we all struggle to create ourselves, and how this struggle often requires risks. Far from a transgender transition tell-all, Man Alive grapples with the larger questions of legacy and forgiveness, love and violence, agency and invisibility.

“Thomas Page McBee’s Man Alive hurtled through my life. I read it in a matter of hours. It’s a confession, it’s a poem, it’s a time warp, it’s a brilliant work of art. I bow down to McBee—his humility, his sense of humor, his insightfulness, his structural deftness, his ability to put into words what is often said but rarely, with such visceral clarity and beauty, communicated.”—Heidi Julavits, author of The Vanishers and The Uses of Enchantment

A Conversation Between Mylene Fernández-Pintado and Dick Cluster

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pintadoclusterdoubleA short conversation between Mylene Fernández-Pintado, the author of A Corner of the World, and Dick Cluster, the translator. They talk about how they met and started to work together and also comment on the translation process of A Corner of the World.

About A Corner of the World:

A cautious, reserved professor of Spanish Literature, Marian has no idea that her quiet life is about to be turned upside down. When she’s asked to review the work of a young, ambitious first-time novelist, she meets Daniel, and their love affair leads her to question both the choices she’s made so far in her life and the opportunities she might yet still have.

Theirs is the story of an intense and impossible love, set in today’s Havana, a city where there can be no plans, where chance is the order of the day and a fierce sense of loyalty and pride coexists with the desire to live beyond the island’s isolation.

A Corner of the World Book Release Party

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87286100535700MA recording of the book party for A Corner of the World with opening remarks by publisher Elaine Katzenberger followed by a reading of the book in the original Spanish by Mylene Fernández-Pintado and English by translator Dick Cluster. Mylene Fernández-Pintado traveled from her home city of Havana (via Switzerland) to read from her own work and discuss the book with the translator, Dick Cluster.

Mylene Fernández-Pintado’s narrative obsessions revolve around the stories we tell ourselves to justify our actions: infidelity, promises not kept, or why live in a country cold and alienating instead of the homeland that we so painfully miss. Winner of the David Award (1998) from the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) for her book Anhedonia. Her novel Otras Plegarias Atendidas won the Italo Calvino Prize in 2002 and the Critics’ Award in 2003. The novel was published by Editorial Marco Tropea in Italy. Her short stories appear in anthologies in Cuba and abroad, and have been translated into English, French, Italian and German. She lives between Havana and Lugano, Switzerland.

Praise for A Corner of the World:

“What I liked most about A Corner of the World, Mylene Fernández-Pintado’s wonderful novel, is how superbly human it portrays its characters. They are neither political or apolitical, and both brave and uneasy, living in a 21st century Cuba that does not easily conform to expectation. A Corner of the World is about desires and dreams, and, of course, about love.”—Achy Obejas

“Love in Havana, love found and mislaid. In thoughtfully chosen words—just those needed, and no more—Mylene Fernandez offers us a magnificent gift. Her story of lost love and the difficult pursuit of literature is at the same time an X-ray of life in Havana, set in a present where glimpses of the future have not yet arrived.”—Leonardo Padura, author of The Man Who Loved Dogs and the Mario Conde novels of Havana

Laila Lalami

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Laila Lalami reads sections from her new novel The Moor’s Account at City Lights. The passages were handpicked by Lalami in order to better display the inner workings of her novel, namely her use of language and the history that lies behind The Moor’s Account. She takes us step-by-step through her artistic process and gives her audience insight into how the novel was produced from scratch.

The Moor’s Account is the story of the first black explorer of LalaAmerica—a Moroccan slave who was left out of the history books.

In 1527, the conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez left the port of San Lucar de Barrameda in Spain, with a crew of six hundred men and nearly a hundred horses. His goal was to claim what is now the Gulf Coast of the United States for the Spanish crown and, in the process, become as wealthy and as famous as Hernán Cortés.

But from the moment the Narváez expedition reached Florida it met with bad luck—storms, disease, starvation, hostile Indians—so that, within a year, there were only four survivors: the expedition’s treasurer, Cabeza de Vaca; a Spanish nobleman named Alonso del Castillo Maldonado; a young explorer by the name of Andrés Dorantes; and his Moroccan slave, Mustafa al-Zamori, whom the other three Spaniards referred to as Estebanico.

The four survivors were forced to live as slaves to the Indians for six years, before fleeing their captivity and establishing themselves as faith healers. Together, they traveled on foot through present-day Florida, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, gathering thousands of disciples and followers along the way.

Years later, three of the survivors—Cabeza de Vaca, Castillo, and Dorantes—were asked to provide testimony about their adventure. Cabeza de Vaca even wrote a book, La Relacíon (The Account), the first European narrative of life in America. But because he was a slave, Mustafa/Estebanico was not asked to testify. His experience was considered irrelevant, or superfluous, or unreliable, or unworthy, despite the fact that he had acted as a scout, an interpreter, and a translator. This novel is his story.

About the author:

Laila Lalami was born and raised in Morocco. She attended Université Mohammed V in Rabat, University College in London, and the University of Southern California, where she earned a Ph.D. in linguistics. She is the author of the short story collection Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award, and the novel Secret Son, which was on the Orange Prize longlist. Her essays and opinion pieces have appeared in Newsweek, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Guardian, The New York Times, and in numerous anthologies. Her work has been translated into ten languages. She is the recipient of a British Council Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship, and is currently an associate professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside.

Josh Weil

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Josh Weil reads from his new novel The Great Glass Sea (Grove Press) and discusses the book with Tom Barbash

From celebrated storyteller Josh Weil comes an epic tragedy of brotherly love, a sui generis novel swathed in all the magic of Russian folklore and set against the dystopian backdrop of an all too real alternate present.

Twin brothers Yarik and Dima have been inseparable since childhood. Living on their uncle’s farm after the death of their father, the boys once spent their days helping farmers in collective fields, their nights spellbound by their uncle’s mythic tales. Years later, the two men labor side by side at the Oranzheria, a sea of glass—the largest greenhouse in the world—that sprawls over acres of cropland. Lit by space mirrors orbiting above, it ensnares the denizens of Petroplavilsk in perpetual daylight and constant productivity, leaving the twins with only work in common—stalwart Yarik married with children, oppressed by the burden of responsibility; dreamer Dima living alone with his mother and rooster, wistfully planning the brothers’ return to their uncle’s land.

But an encounter with the Oranzerhia’s billionaire owner changes their lives forever. Dima drifts into a laborless life of bare subsistence while Yarik begins a head-spinning ascent from promotion to promotion until both men become poster boys for opposing ideologies, pawns at the center of conspiracies and deceptions that threaten to destroy not only the lives of those they love but the very love that has bonded the brothers since birth. This is a breathtakingly ambitious novel of love, loss, and light, set amid a bold vision of an alternative present-day Russia.

Josh Weil was awarded the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his debut collection, The New Valley. A National Book Award “Five Under Thirty-Five” author, he has received fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, Columbia University, the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf, and Sewanee. His fiction has appeared in Granta, Esquire, One Story, and Agni.

Tom Barbash is the author of the novel The Last Good Chance and the bestselling nonfiction work On Top of the World: Cantor Fitzgerald, Howard Lutnick & 9/11: A Story of Loss & Renewal. His fiction has been published in Tin House, Story Magazine, The Indiana Review and others. His criticism has appeared in the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.

William Vollmann

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VollmanGhost StoriesWilliam Vollmann reads from his new collection of short stories, Last Stories and Other Stories.
His first novel in nine years, published by Viking Press, comprises numerous ghost stories linked together by themes of love, death and the erotic. In this reading session set in the Initiation Chamber and Library of Lodge No. 15 of European Oddfellows, Vollmann reads Widow’s Weeds, a story about Weneke Lea McLeod.

William T Vollmann is an award winning novelist, journalist, war correspondent, short story writer, essayist, and painter. He is the author of ten novels, four short story collections, nine works of non-fiction, and numerous limited special editions. His novel Europe Central won the 2005 National Book Award.


Howard Norman

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Howard Norman reads from his new novel Next Life Might Be Kinder from Houghton Mifflin HarcourtHowardNorman

Sam Lattimore meets Elizabeth Church in 1970s Halifax, in an art gallery. The sparks are immediate, leading quickly to a marriage that is dear, erotically charged, and brief.  In Howard Norman’s spellbinding and moving novel, the gleam of the marriage and the circumstances of Elizabeth’s murder are revealed in heart-stopping increments that ultimately complicate Sam’s life with grief, hallucination, and desperation.

Next Life Might Be Kinder is a story of murder, faith, the afterlife, and of love as absolute redemption—from one of our most compelling storytellers at the height of his talents.

about Howard Norman:

Two of Howard Norman’s novels, The Northern Lights (1987) and The Bird Artist (1994), were nominated for the National Book Award. His other novels include The Museum Guard, The Haunting of L, Devotion, and What is Left the Daughter. His books have been translated into twelve languages. Norman is the recipient of a Lannan Award in fiction, and he teaches at the University of Maryland.

Interview with Lenelle Moïse

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Lenelle Moïse stopped by the City Lights office shortly before her reading at the bookstore. She sat down and talked about her new book Haiti Glass as well as how she wrote the book, how she came to know the Sister Spit group, and more.

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Praise for Haiti Glass:

Haiti Glass is a magnificent collection of poetry and prose. Part mantra, part lamentation, part prayer, this incredible book puts us wholly in the presence of an extraordinary and brave talent, whose voice will linger in your heart and mind long after you read the last word of this book.”—Edwidge Danticat

Lenelle Moïse

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City Lights is proud to be celebrating the release of:

Haiti Glass

by Lenelle Moïse

The latest poetry cohaitillection in the City Lights/Sister Spit series, edited by Michelle Tea!

Haiti Glass is a thunderstorm of poetics, politics, and art which delve deep into the language of life and present a dual portrait: one of a Haitian immigrant living within a suburban landscape in Boston and one of an artist pulled by both pop culture and the devastating effects of society. Moise’s poetry breathes into itself and expresses a multitude of emotions and observations that drape even the worst scenario’s in a blanket of strong poetic verse.

Haiti Glass is a magnificent collection of poetry and prose. Part mantra, part lamentation, part prayer, this incredible book puts us wholly in the presence of an extraordinary and brave talent, whose voice will linger in your heart and mind long after you read the last word of this book.”—Edwidge Danticat