Just a reminder that the launch party for my chapbook On the River, Down Where They Found Willy Brown is tonight at 7pm at Pageturner’s Lounge (5004 Dodge Street, parking in rear). This is the last time that the whole mutli-media performance with Darren Keen is scheduled to be put on, what was previously performed at Akademie Schloss Solitude in Germany. The show mixes readings from the chapbook with photographs of World War I-era Omaha, popular films from the era (Charlie Chaplin, Krazy Kat, Katzenjammer Kids, Sinking of the Lusitania) and a cross-fertilization of some pretty interesting music. The songs include ragtime, Louis Armstrong, Enrique Caruso, Woody Guthrie, and propaganda music from the war, mixed in with Ideal Cleaners, Bright Calm Blue, Spring Gun, Rent Money Big, Her Flyaway Manner, and other important music from Nebraska in the last decade. It’s really cool. A great melange of elements that inspired the chapbook.
In other news, I’ve been working on getting On the River into a few bookstores around the area. So far I’ve worked out an arrangement with Jackson Street Booksellers (Old Market, 1119 Jackson St.) and their satellite Solid Jackson Books (Benson, 6571 Maple St), both in Omaha. More news to come on this as it develops. Oh, and if you know of any bookstores that specialize in chapbooks or any store that might be a good fit, drop me a line about it, I’d appreciate the lead.
Check out these photos from my return trip to Solitude and Stuttgart last month. The trip was pretty successful, I think. There was a great response at our performance of “Omaha Uninitiated: Stateside Race Riots & Lynching in the Aftermath of World War I,” the multi-media contribution Darren Keen and I put together for Akademie Schloss Solitude’s “Quotes & Appropriation” symposium. The room was nearly filled for the performance. I couldn’t ask for more than that.
It was a lot of fun to bring so much of the research that went into writing my chapbook On the River, Down Where They Found Willy Brown and the related novel (still in manuscript) titled The Uninitiated. Trying to guess how an audience will react (or if they will react at all) to a piece is a constant obsession for most writers, so actually being up in front of a group of mostly strangers and talking to folks afterwards was a nice culmination of sorts, and a commencement too. Knowing that I can get the attention of a room full of Germans and artists from all of the world interested in the history of Omaha is heartening to say the least. There’s still the matter of getting the novel version of this material published, and published well, and then promoting that, but I’ll enjoy this for a little bit, while I can.
Reconnecting with the wildhogs of Rotwildpark.
Not so much traveling around European elsewheres this time–but plenty of exploring Stuttgart.
Hanging out at Super Popular Sanchez in Stuttgart.
The courtyard, host to many events last summer, in a very frosty state.
Darren and Lu getting set up before the show.
(Photos of the presentation were taken by Franzi Ziegler.)
If you’ve been wondering exactly what the presentation/performance I’ve been developing with Darren Keen, and the workshop itself, is all about, this thesis from the post sheds some light on the matter.
Being as old as art itself, the concept of appropriation expounds and challenges crucial topics in the art world such as authorship, originality and intellectual property. With the development of digital media, new forms of communication have emerged, and sharing, exchanging and copying became an everyday operation. Akademie Schloss Solitude is taking up the controversial debate about the concepts of plagiarism and appropriation in a two-year project on the status of the author in the 21st century. Starting point will be the workshop »Quotes & Appropriation«, February 19 and 20, 2015, which will be opened by a reading/performance by former fellow Theodore Wheeler. The writer from Omaha/NE, USA will be showing his way of exercising appropriation: The presentation of his latest book On the River, Down Where They Found Willy Brown (Edition Solitude 2015, available as an e-book) will include historical photographs of Omaha and popular American film and music from the World War I era, illustrating the production of a novella as a combination of primary historical sources, literary influences, and original prose, »suggesting that a book is as much as about the process of its creation as it is about its content.«
We’re super excited to finally get this show on the road. It will be nice to be back at Solitude for a little while too. I’m going to get me some Afri Cola, some bretzel buns, some döner kebap mit brötchen. That, and we’re going to rock the performance.
A few updates on events surrounding the release of my chapbook (On the River, Down Where They Found Willy Brown) and some info on how to obtain a copy for yourself, if you’re so inclined:
– The e-book version is available right now on Amazon for the bargain price of 99 cents. If you’re a Kindle user, check it out here.
– I’ve confirmed that the paper pamphlet version will be sold through the online store of Edition Solitude–which you can find here. Well, you can’t find it there now–unless you’re reading this in the future–but it will be there soon. Probably in March.
– Promotional materials are starting to come out for the “Quotes & Appropriation” event Darren Keen and I (and many others) will be a part of at Akademie Schloss Solitude later this month. There’s more information on the event here and here and here, if you’re interested. Here’s the flyer for the event.
– A chapbook release party has been organized, and the good news is you’re all invited! The other good news is that I talked Darren into stopping by Omaha on his way to SXSW, so we’ll have our entire reading/music/film/photography presentation ready to share to a local audience too, which is important. Join us on Wednesday, March 11, at Pageturners Lounge (5004 Dodge Street/Omaha). Here’s a link to the Facebook event page, with all the details. This will be the easiest way to obtain a copy of the paper version if you’re in the Omaha-area, as we’ll have copies for sale at the event, with all proceeds benefiting the Urban League of Nebraska.
Here’s the cover image for my forthcoming chapbook (“On the River, Down Where They Found Willy Brown”) that will be published by Reihe Projektiv/Edition Solitude later this winter, in late February, to be exact.
This will be the first writing I’ve had published about the Omaha Race Riot of 1919 and the lynching of Will Brown at the Douglas County Courthouse. I’ve posted here many times on the subject, one I’ve been researching and writing fiction about for over five years now. I’m both excited and nervous to finally be sharing this work with audiences. Hopefully it’s found to be pertinent and well-considered work.
The chapbook will be released in conjunction with my upcoming presentation at Akademie Schloss Solitude as part of their two-day, cross-discipline workshop titled “Quotes and Appropriation.” DJ Darren Keen and I have been hard at work on our opening night event that will feature readings from the chapbook and a DJ set from a melange of music that was important to the writing of the chapbook, plus a presentation of photographs and film from my research. It will be a good time.
If you heard me read at the Key West Literary Seminar in January, Solitude Nacht in July, or in December at the Fair Use Reading Series in Benson, this is some of the same material. It includes what I read then and quite a bit more.
If you’re interested in acquiring a copy of the book, the best way would be to just stop in at Akademie Schloss Solitude in February and pick up a copy at the event. If Stuttgart is a little far afield, other options will be available thereafter, hopefully in both hardcopy and digital editions. More on that to come.
Many thanks to Todd Seabrook (editor/designer with The Cupboard) for his work on the cover and book design. He’s great. If you’re looking for someone to work with on a chapbook project, he’s your guy.
A quick note that “Minstrel Show, or The Lynching of William Brown” is to be performed as a reading next Sunday, January 11, as part of the Douglas County Historical Society’s Second Sunday lecture and performance series. The play was written by DCHS researcher Max Sparber and takes for its subject the 1919 Courthouse Riot in Omaha. The play retells the events of the riot from the perspective of two itinerant performers.
Originally produced in 1998 by the Blue Barn Theater, and performed in the rotunda of the Douglas County Courthouse in addition to the Blue Barn, “Minstrel Show” has since been performed around the country to rave reviews. An actor from the Blue Barn will participate in the reading on Sunday, and Max Sparber will take questions afterwards.
There will be more of a formal announcement for all this soon, but I’ve been itching to share about a project I’ve been working on as part of my association with Akademie Schloss Solitude, so here you go.
This upcoming February I’ll return to Germany to participate with other fellows and guests of the Akademie in a two-day, cross-discipline workshop titled “Quotes and Appropriation.” I’m very excited to return to Stuttgart for this, as its a culmination and redirection of the book project I’ve been working on the past five years.
In addition to panels and workshops, there will be an opening night presentation called “Omaha Uninitiated: Music, Cultural Artifact, and Historical Event in the Recreation of Civic Trauma.” This project contains three elements–a set of readings from On the River, Down Where They Found Willy Brown, a novella based on events surrounding the Omaha Courthouse Lynching of 1919 (more on this below); a presentation of photographs and video that have been important to the creation of On the River, and my related full-length novel The Uninitiated; and a DJ performance by Darren Keen.
It will be amazing to bring five year’s worth of research and writing on this topic to Germany, and I’m particularly excited to see what Darren comes up with for the music component, what will be a mashup and cross-fertilization of music from the World War I era that was important to the creation of the novel (ragtime, propaganda music, American folk, jazz) mixed with music from Nebraska in the last fifteen years.
The final part of all this is publication of the aforementioned novella (On the River, Down Where They Found Willy Brown) by the Reihe Projektiv imprint of Edition Solitude. If you heard me read at the Key West Literary Seminar in January, Solitude Nacht in July, or last Friday at the Fair Use Reading Series in Benson, that is some of the same material. Todd Seabrook (editor/designer with The Cupboard) is working on the design and I’m pretty excited how it’s turning out.
This post has been sitting in post-op for quite a while but I’d still like to make a few points and share a bunch of photos from my last few weeks in Europe this summer. I’ve been back in Nebraska, more or less, since the end of August and have been kept busy readjusting, recovering, and trying to make up for lost time with the girls. So the blogging has been neglected. Hopefully nobody is too crushed by this fact.
My three months at Solitude served me and my body of work very well. Quantitatively, I wrote a whole new novel from beginning to end, sans a few scenes that didn’t quite take off that I’ll get to soon; conceived of and planned out a multimedia project and presentation (more on this in the coming months) that will illustrate a lot of the research and creative process that went into writing my first novel, the historically-set The Uninitiated; yet another small revision of The Uninitiated before sending it off to agents; and one new short story.
Thinking about these things numerically isn’t usually the best, but I think the work is pretty good too. I’m really excited about the new novel–called Safe Haven, for now, or maybe From the Files of the Chief Inspector. It’s kind of crazy thinking about how it took three years to finish a draft of my first novel (with rewrites coming in each of the two subsequent years to get to a draft that I feel is more-or-less done) and that a first draft of the second novel pretty much took about five and a half weeks to get down. The book isn’t quite done, so hopefully I’m not jinxing myself, but it’s interesting to look at the differences of the two projects. The second book is set in in 2008, so obviously there’s a big difference in the amount of time demanded by research. Also, I had a much clearer idea about what the second book would be about and how I’d structure its different parts, which is probably the biggest change. Anyway, now that the first draft is nearing completion, I’m excited to get onto the 1-10 years of revising before it’s ready to let anyone else actually see it.
Just a teaser, a literary crime novel, the book features love stories set in the context of a post-9/11 domestic spying campaign. If you’ve followed this blog for a while and are familiar with my reading obsessions the past few years (Bolaño, D. Johnson, U. Johnson) then you probably could approximate the tone and style of this new project. It’s been fun to write, I’ll say that.
Thanks so much to Mr. Joly, Silke, Marieanne, Claudia, Lu, Clara, Lotte, Sophie, Maria, the other fellows, and everyone else at Akademie Schloss Solitude for their assistance and support during my residency. Solitude is an amazing place made so much more so by the people there.
My final few weeks allowed for just a little more travel in Europe. After taking longer trips to Amman, Italy, and Paris (x2) I decided to keep my last few cities decidedly Germanic, sneaking in a few days in Hamburg, Berlin, and Vienna. Rushing through these cities didn’t do them any kind of justice, but a taste is better than nothing.
I will say that the best Mexican food I had in Europe was at Tin Tan in the Mitte area of Berlin. There were some decent burrito stands in Paris, but Tin Tan was faraway the best. This turned into a running-joke by the time I left Germany, but I was really craving good Mexican food so much. I like paprika and pimento peppers as much as the next guy–probably more–but it wasn’t so easy to go on without a steady supply of chili peppers. (I had plenty of Döner, currywurst, and schnitzl too, don’t worry. Would have liked to live on crepes a few days, but that wasn’t really in the cards.)
Pretty much right after getting home to Nebraska we set off for the Pacific NW to celebrate the weddings of a couple friends. It was a great trip. More travel for the girls–planes, trains and boats this time. Daughter 1 was pretty appalled at how slow and low-tech Amtrak trains are, having worked her way up to a college sophomore level of pretentiousness about rail-travel after summering in Europe. Not everything is the TGV, honey.
While I was definitely not in the mood to spend more time on an airplane at this point, it was great to catch up with so many old friends during my homecoming weekend.
In fact, I was pretty much awed by the reception I received in returning. From Nicole and the girls and the extended family, to the writers at Creighton, even to the security guards at the courthouses I cover for work. People are nice. It was really quite touching, like I’m George Bailey or something.
After that, October saw three trips to Kansas City to following the Royals on their historic run to the World Series. In all, I saw the madcap, 12-inning Wild Card game victory over the Oakland A’s with my brother, drove down for the ALCS rainout with Nicole, and parlayed what we sold the ALCS rainout tickets for into two seats for Game 2 of the World Series against San Francisco. What a crazy run.
Check out my short fiction piece “In Her Place on Capitol Ave, 1917” that’s live today on The Four Quarters Magazine, an online literary journal from India with varied tastes and global consciousness.
This is the second excerpt I’ve placed from my historical novel, The Uninitiated, along with a longer piece that came out in Boulevard last autumn. Overall this is my twenty-second short fiction publication, with two more forthcoming later in the year. Out of all those, however, this is the first time I’ve had a story published overseas. Something notable, I think, even if it is published online overseas. I’ll take it though, seeing as expanding my global awareness is pretty much the theme of the summer.
Thanks so much to Nabina Das and the other editors at TFQ for making this possible.