City Lights Books, in conjunction with Litquake’s Epicenter Reading Series, presents Joshua Cohen speaking with Ethan Nosowsky, McSweeney’s editorial director, at Tosca Cafe on Tuesday, August 21, 2012, celebrating the release of Four New Messages (Graywolf Press).
Four New Messages is a quartet of audacious fictions that capture the pathos and absurdity of life in the age of the internet. A spectacularly talented young writer has returned from the present with Four New Messages, urgent and visionary dispatches that seek to save art, sex, and even alienation from corporatism and technology run rampant. In ‘Emission,’ a hapless drug dealer in Princeton is humiliated when a cruel co-ed exposes him exposing himself on a blog gone viral. ‘McDonald’s’ tells of a frustrated pharmaceutical copywriter whose imaginative flights fail to bring solace because of a certain word he cannot put down on paper. In ‘The College Borough’ a father visiting NYU with his daughter remembers a former writing teacher, a New Yorker exiled to the Midwest who refuses to read his students’ stories, asking them instead to build a replica of the Flatiron Building. ‘Sent’ begins mythically in the woods of Russia, but in a few virtuosic pages plunges into the present, where an aspiring journalist finds himself in a village that shelters all the women who’ve starred in all the internet porn he’s ever enjoyed. Highbrow and low-down, these four intensely felt stories explain what happens when the virtual begins to colonize the real — they harness the torrential power and verbal dexterity that have established Cohen as one of America’s most brilliant younger writers.
Joshua Cohen was born in 1980 in New Jersey. He is the author of five books, including A Heaven of Others and Witz. His nonfiction has appeared in Bookforum, The Forward, Harper’s and other publications. He lives in New York City.
Litquake, San Francisco’s annual literary festival, was founded by Bay Area writers in order to put on a week-long literary spectacle for book lovers, complete with cutting-edge panels, unique cross-media events, and hundreds of readings. Since its founding in 1999, the festival has presented more than 3,650 author appearances for an audience of over 83,500 in its lively and inclusive celebration of San Francisco’s thriving contemporary literary scene. Litquake seeks to foster interest in literature, perpetuate a sense of literary community, and provide a vibrant forum for Bay Area writing as a complement to the city’s music, film, and cultural festivals.