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Archive for January, 2010:


Serge Gainsbourg, French Songwriter Lost in Translation

posted January 28, 2010

Posted by Thomas Riggs in music poetry world literature

film_gainsbourg

Like many people in France last week, I went to the opening of Gainsbourg (vie héroïque), a film about Serge Gainsbourg (1928-91), the French songwriter, provocateur, and cultural icon. It’s hard to imagine the American equivalent of Gainsbourg, who is as famous in his own country as Elvis Presley is in the United States. To describe his personality and public presence, I thought about combining Bob Dylan, Abby Hoffman, and Charles Bukowski, but any mélange of American personalities would lack the French sensibility of Gainsbourg and the French culture that he both embodied and challenged.

That Gainsbourg, an inventive and disturbing cultural force, was virtually unknown in the United States even during his lifetime reflects the cocooning effect of language. Gainsbourg sang literary and sometimes shocking lyrics and provoked traditional French citizens into a fury, but Americans, deaf to the French language, were left undisturbed and unaffected.

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The Rumpus Turns 1

posted January 25, 2010

Posted by Erin Brown in books events trends

rumpus

Congratulations to The Rumpus, which just celebrated its one-year anniversary and, therewith, its “fitness for survival in the age of the interwebs.” Founded in San Francisco by Stephen Elliott, author of the much-acclaimed Adderall Diaries, The Rumpus is a relatively edgy magazine seeking to offer fresh coverage of books, music, art, comics, politics, film . . . and sex. From their statement of purpose:

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Playing Ginsberg: Franco/Turturro

posted January 22, 2010

Posted by Anne Healey in books poetry

The Sundance Film Festival opens this weekend with the premiere of the Allen Ginsberg biopic “Howl,” starring James Franco (angelheaded hipster du jour).  Here’s a clip of Franco’s Ginsberg reciting the end of “Howl for Carl Solomon.”  Just for fun, below that is John Turturro reciting the whole durn thing (from the Beat documentary “The Source”).

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France vs. Google, Amazon, and Apple

posted January 21, 2010

Posted by Thomas Riggs in Bookselling E-books books publishing technology world literature

Nicolas Sarkozy - Meeting in Toulouse for the ...

French President Nicolas Sarkozy; image by guillaumepaumier via Flickr

Imagine the plight of the French. They want to protect their language and culture. They have what many consider to be one of the most beautiful languages, and their literary history is rich. From Molière to Flaubert to Sartre, the French have given much to the world.

Unfortunately for those who think literature is more than mere Internet “content” to attract advertising dollars, the times are changing quickly. Google is in the process of digitizing every book it can (admittedly to the great benefit of people who don’t have the resources otherwise to obtain certain texts), and soon Google and other American companies, such as Amazon and Apple, might dictate the publishing terms of books both old and new worldwide.

Faced with the possibility of losing control of its literary heritage, the French are mulling over possibilities. Even the conservative French president Nicolas Sarkozy—who has been called “Sarko l’Américain” for his pro-American sentiments—is concerned. He recently said of Google, “We won’t let ourselves be stripped of our heritage to the benefit of a big company, no matter how friendly, big or American it is.” He said France would finance its own book digitization program.

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Poetry Is Alive and Well on the Oregon Coast

posted January 19, 2010

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in events

AstoriaLogoApparently poetry by fishermen is so popular that there are two separate gatherings of fisher poets on the Oregon Coast this year. The 13th annual Fisher Poets Gathering in Astoria, Oregon, will meet the weekend of February 26, 2010, and the inaugural 2010 FisherPoets on the Edge met this past weekend, January 16-19, in Newport, Oregon.

Fisher poets are people who write poetry and are involved with the fishing industry.

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