Category Archives: Emily Barton

Dialogues Big and Little

1) From the A.P.: “Nobel literature head: US too insular to compete,” Malin Rising and Hillel Italie, 30 September 2008: archived, as of this writing, here and here.

(A side note: it’s a little frightening how easy it is to find commentary on this article, but how difficult it is to find a simple, complete, comment-less, free-of-ancillary-garbage archive of it.)

2) Two of the many, many responses: Ron Hogan’s “We’ll Make Our Own Luck, You Dumb Swede!” post, 1 October; Adam Kirsch, “Nobel Gas,” Slate, 3 October.

3) Scott McLemee’s questions in Inside Higher Ed: “How valid are Engdahl’s criticisms? Are there tendencies in U.S. culture that negate his perspective, or particularly grievous ones that confirm it? What American author seems an obvious candidate for the Nobel?” (“Ig-Nobel Thoughts,” 8 October 2008.)

McLemee got eleven e-mailed responses, from “a range of writers, critics, translators, and scholars.” And Charlotte Mandell’s comments are (understandably) rather Bard-centric (Ashbery et al.), since she’s a part of the Bard College literary community; but even so, it’s really lovely to read the following:

That said, it’s not true that the literary scene in America is insular. […] Young American novelists like Paul LaFarge, Edie Meidav, and Emily Barton are deeply involved with cultures outside of America. It would be wonderful if the publishing world in America were as interested in other languages and cultures as the American poets and novelists living and writing today.

4) Which also reminds me of this (Katherine Weber: “The [2006 NBCC Award] fiction list omits Emily Barton’s Brookland, it omits Sigrid Nunez’s The Last of Her Kind, and it omits Deborah Eisenberg’s Twilight of the Superheroes“).

What do you call this kind of praise? The praise of Hey, this great thing is being neglected, these great people are not being mentioned in this wider conversation about official recognition of merit?

5) A novelist friend told me on the phone the other day, “I think she’s a genius.” I told him I agreed with him wholeheartedly, but that my claim might not be taken as seriously as his, as my praise is part of my job. (It’s in the ketubah, as we say.) But, I told him, I truly believe I’d agree with him even if it weren’t part of my job.


(Catch-up post, three of five.)

The Chautauqua Institution this summer: Week Four: The Ethical Frontiers of Science (July 14–18): Write What You Don’t Know: Using Research to Enliven Your Writing:

Though many of us have received the advice to “write what you know,” sometimes writing exclusively about our own experiences can feel limiting. Researching topics of interest, however, and imagining the lives of people different from ourselves can free us to explore new territory. This workshop will focus on using research (creatively defined) to broaden the horizons of our writing. Through in-class and take-home exercises, we’ll expand our knowledge of the greater world, and we will read and discuss published authors who can guide and cheer us on in this endeavor.

(Full 2008 summer catalog.)

Also: podcast of Jeff Miller, Director of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, interviewing Emily last summer.

And: Emily interviewed by the editors of West 10th for their first issue (p. 70); Dominic Smith interviewing Emily in Gulf Coast, Vol. 20, #1 (p. 319). Neither available online.

I love the world not available online.

Speaking of which: Toby at ten weeks:

Toby Hop ten wks

Brooklyn Was Mine

Emily’s contributor copies of Brooklyn Was Mine arrived. It’s such a beautiful book! And I had no idea where the title came from, but there it is, under our boot-soles, in the book’s epigraph:

What is it then between us?
What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us?
Whatever it is, it avails not— distance avails not, and place avails not,
I too lived, Brooklyn of ample hills was mine…

—Walt Whitman, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”

Book sales support Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, a noble and deserving cause. The press release on the DDDB site also has information about a couple readings scheduled in January.

Continuing Education

Are you taking an educational holiday at the Chautauqua Institution this week (which, thematically—as you’d presumably know, if you’re there—happens to be Week Four: 21st Century Cities)? Are you wondering: What shall I do tomorrow afternoon, after the lecture on a religious theme, and before the evening’s performance by the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra? Shall I take a class in ballroom dancing (or knitting, or robotics, or the Amish, etc.), play golf, or go for a swim? So many options!

Well, why not go hear my brilliant wife‘s reading at 4:00pm, which is this week’s Roundtable/Lecture of the 2007 summer season of the Chautauqua Literary & Scientific Circle, “the oldest continuous book club in America”?

And if you’re not taking an educational holiday at the Chautauqua Institution this week—which, I suppose, is statistically more likely—and you, like me, weren’t aware that the Chautauqua movement didn’t fizzle out completely seventy years ago, aren’t you simply delighted to learn that such a place still exists, that it’s still going strong out there on the shore of Chautauqua Lake?


My whip-smart and knockout beautiful wife and I (it’s true, it’s marvelous, we got married, did you see the thing in the Styles section?) will be reading together for a special honeymooners edition of the One Story reading series on Friday, January 12, at around seven or so; get there a little early for the chosen cocktail, the choice of which we haven’t had a chance yet to choose (we just got back yesterday from a week in Saratoga Springs; my arms are still hurting from the horse racing simulator), but which we guarantee will be choice. (Also: the New Yorker review mentioned about three quarters of the way through: still viewable online, here, if you’re curious.)