PITTSBURGH- Imagining the possibilities that future technologies might have on the publishing industry will be the focus of a discussion with essayist Sven Birkerts and blogger Maud Newton. Titled “The Future of the Book,” this rescheduled event will be held at 8:30 p.m. April 1 in G-24 Cathedral of Learning, 4200 Fifth Ave., Oakland. The event, part of the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series 2009-10 season, was postponed because of inclement weather.
The event will be moderated by Pitt creative writing professor Cathy Day, author of the short story collection The Circus In Winter (Harcourt, 2004) and the memoir Comeback Season: How I Learned to Play the Game of Love (Free Press, 2008).
The event is free and open to the public.
If you’re not able to attend — or if you do plan to attend and want to participate in a bit of backchannel discussion as it happens — I’m planning to liveblog this event here on this site. The liveblogging tech (from CoverItLive) lets everyone write in comments and questions, follow selected posts on Twitter, and generally participate in a variety of ways from any location. Nifty.
UPDATE: Another casualty of Snowpocalypse 2010, the “Future of the Book” discussion has been postponed. With luck it will be rescheduled soon.
Next Thursday, the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series at Pitt’s Creative Writing program will hold an event of primo interest to me: a discussion titled “The Future of the Book,” featuring Sven Birkerts and Maud Newton, moderated by Cathy Day.
Sven Birkerts and Maud Newton
The Future of the Book: a discussion moderated by Cathy Day
8:30 pm, Thursday, Feb 11th
Frick Fine Arts Auditorium
Over the years, Maud Newton’s blog has become known among publishers, writers, and agents for its smart literary talk and her devotion to reading and writing. She has been cited in a range of publications including New York magazine, The Scotsman, The Guardian, the New York Times, and Poets & Writers. Newton is particularly skilled at finding and posting links to lit bits that other sources miss, such as a previously untranslated Roberto Bolano story. Newton has written for The American Prospect, and contributed book reviews to The Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post Book World, the New York Times Book Review, and Newsday. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared various journals including Narrative, Maisonneuve, and Swink.
Sven Birkerts is the author of several collections of essays, including The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age (Faber and Faber, 2002). He has taught writing at Harvard University, Emerson College, Amherst College, and most recently at Mount Holyoke College. Presently, Birkerts is the Director of the Bennington College Writing Seminars. Birkerts reviews regularly for The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, Esquire, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and other publications. His other works include An Artificial Wilderness: Essays on Twentieth Century Literature (William Morrow, 1987), The Electric Life: Essays on Modern Poetry (William Morrow, 1989) and My Sky Blue Trades: Growing Up Counter in a Contrary Time (Viking, 2002).
Sven Birkerts had an opinion piece in The Atlantic last year, “Resisting the Kindle,” so I presume he’ll be presenting the “e-books will destroy mankind and all that is good” point of view.
Maud Newton has many great qualifications and achievements, but I think of her as the blogger who inspired me to start blogging all the way back in 2003. I’m super-excited she’s coming to talk on this subject — or honestly, about anything at all. She posted on her blog last year about e-books: “When is a book not a book?“
The event is open to the public and free; see the full PCWS schedule here.
Whether you’re able to attend in person or not, I plan to liveblog the event, and I’d love for you to follow along and chime in. There will be a post on this site next Thursday with a CoverItLive widget where you can read my notes, make comments, add media (I think…), etc. Or you can tweet and tag your tweets with #futureofthebook and they’ll appear in the widget too. Very futuristic, no?
We have a winner of the “No Plot? No Problem!” novel-writing kit: Scott Cowley
Scott says he is working on his first NaNoWriMo novel, and we can hope this kit will help him in his high-speed creation of novelistic wonder.
How is my own NaNo novel coming? Here’s what I’ve learned in the past week: The minute I announced that I would be posting my novel to the web in draft form on the day I wrote it, in that minute I damned myself to being unable to write a single word.
The knowledge that my craptastic, awful, reaching, super-drafty first draft sentences would be exposed to the glaring light of day — and to the eyeballs of readers — was enough to quash my writing completely. I’ve barely been able to write semi-factual blog posts all week, such was the reaction of my inner editors to my plan.
So this morning I decided I would do as I’ve always done and write my terrible first drafts for myself only. I started writing.
Sixteen minutes later, I had written 519 words and had at last truly begun my NaNoWriMo 2009 adventure.
Others can write their novels with people reading over the shoulder; I admire their confidence and wish them well. Myself, I’ll be writing my terrible prose more privately.