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June 9th, 2014 • Posted in Literary Destinations

The World Cup of Literature

This brilliance from Chad Post over at three percent:

“With the Real World Cup (RWC) kicking off Thursday afternoon, it’s time to announce the participants in this year’s World Cup of Literature (WCL). This post is pretty long, but is also packed with information: all 32 competing titles, the names of the 24 judges, a bit of info on the methodology, and the official bracket . . .

The Books

First off, thanks to everyone who submitted suggestions of books to participate in the WCL. We received way more recommendations than we expected—along with requests to serve as a judge—and it was pretty tough narrowing these all down to a mere 32 titles. (Which, incidentally, makes me think that we should do this again next year for the Women’s World Cup, but include only books written by women.)

Our criteria shifted based on the country in question, but, if at all possible, we only looked at books written in the original language after 2000 (thus eliminating all the “old guys” like David Beckham), and tried, in some quasi-logical way, to tie each book to its country’s actual team. I’ll leave it to the individual judges to expound upon these connections (if they feel like it), but, just to provide an example, we went with The Pale King by David Foster Wallace as the U.S. representative because, like the USMNT, it’s an unfinished product, made of various pieces, and all about boredom (which is how some people in the States view soccer as a whole). Not to mention, The Pale King’s defense is pretty shaky . . . 

The Bracket: Some Methodology

For the sake of ease (and respecting everyone’s time and sanity), we decided to forego the whole round-robin group-stage thing. But that doesn’t mean we wanted to ignore the groups altogether in pursuit of a perfect NCAA-like bracket. So we kept the groups, ranked the teams in each group 1-4 (according to the most recent FIFA world rankings), and matched #1 vs. #4 and #2 vs. #3 for each group. So all of our first round matches will happen in the group stage.

As for placing the first-round matches on the bracket, we followed the format of the RWC, pitting A1 vs B2; B1 vs A2; etc. in the second round, using the rankings as the 1s and 2s. This will, of course, fall completely apart and result—most likely—in a second round that looks nothing like the RWC’s, but there remains a chance that we’ll manage to mirror the RWC, at least in a few spots on the bracket.

The groups and rankings (with FIFA world rankings in parentheses), in case you’re curious, are below.

Group A
1. Brazil (4)
2. Mexico (19)
3. Croatia (20)
4. Cameroon (50)

Group B
1. Spain (1)
2. Chile (13)
3. Netherlands (15)
4. Australia (59)

Group C
1. Colombia (5)
2. Greece (10)
3. Ivory Coast (21)
4. Japan (47)

Group D
1. Uruguay (6)
2. Italy (9)
3. England (11)
4. Costa Rica (34)

Group E
1. Switzerland (8)
2. France (16)
3. Ecuador (28)
4. Honduras (30)

Group F
1. Argentina (7)
2. Bosnia & Herzegovina (25)
3. Iran (37)
4. Nigeria (44)

Group G
1. Germany (2)
2. Portugal (3)
3. USA (14)
4. Ghana (38)

Group H
1. Belgium (12)
2. Russia (18)
3. Algeria (25)
4. South Korea (55)

The Judges and Match Dates

So, without further ado, here are books, the first (and second) round match ups, and the names of the judges who will be presiding over these first 24 matches of the WCL. All links lead to listings on Powells so that you can buy these and play along:

First Round

Brazil v Cameroon 6/12 – Jeffrey Zuckerman

 

Russia v Algeria 6/13 – Chris Schaefer

 

Italy v England 6/13 – Trevor Berrett

Spain v Australia 6/16 – Mauro Javier Cardenas

Colombia v Japan 6/17 – George Carroll

Switzerland v Honduras 6/18 – Hannah Chute

Argentina v Nigeria 6/19 – Lance Edmonds

Mexico v Croatia 6/20 – Katrine Ogaard

Portugal v USA 6/20 – Will Evans

France v Ecuador 6/23 – P.T. Smith

Chile v Netherlands 6/24 – Shaun Randol

Greece v Ivory Coast 6/25 – Laura Radosh

Bosnia & Herzegovina v Iran 6/26 – Hal Hlavinka

Belgium v South Korea 6/26 – Scott Esposito

Uruguay v Costa Rica 6/27 – Kaija Straumanis

Germany v Ghana 6/27 – James Crossley

June 5th, 2014 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Bats Protect Books in Old Portuguese Libraries

Wiki

The Biblioteca Joanina and the Mafra Palace Library, both  in Portugal, and both built in the 18th century, books aren’t the only items in the stacks. As the Boston Globe reports:

“the bats, which are less than inch long, roost during the day behind “elaborate rococo bookcases” and come out at night to hunt insects which otherwise would feast on the libraries’ books. The price of this natural insect control is paid in scat: The bats, [James] Campbell writes in his new book The Library: A World History “leave a thin layer of droppings over everything. So each morning the floors have to be thoroughly cleaned…and the furniture has to be covered at night.”

 

November 10th, 2013 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Take the kids to a castle in Wales and experience some real historical fiction

Ronald Welch (1909-1982) was the pen name of Ronald Oliver Felton  who is best known for a children’s historical fiction series featuring the Carey Family. Born in Aberavon, West Glamorgan, Wales he was for many years headmaster of Okehampton Grammar School in Devon.  

The Gauntlet is a time travel story set in 1951  and  1326, mainly in Carreg Cennen Castle, Wales.

The story has Peter Staunton and his friend Gwyn Evans finding a rusted iron gauntlet while on holiday in the Brecon Beacons. When Peter puts the gauntlet on he hears the thud of hooves, and, after falling asleep on the grounds of Carreg Cennen Castle, finds himself back in medieval times. Here he attends banquets, watches jousts, and fights in a siege of the castle by the Welsh during the battle he’s hit unconscious.  He buries his misericorde in a herb garden and when he wakes up back in his own time he has to convince his friends that what he experienced was real. He eventually finds a rusty old dagger but it’s unclear if this is the one he buried.

 

October 10th, 2013 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Literary Tourist Audio: Charlie Foran on Alice Munro and Wingham, Ontario

Creativehuron.ca

Alice Munro has just won the Nobel Prize for Literature. In honour of this, we re-run this interview: 

Several years ago, well known Canadian author/biographer Charlie Foran, playing the Literary Tourist, travelled to Wingham, Ontario and environs to spend a little time in Alice Munro country. We talked to him recently about his experience. Please listen here

Play
September 15th, 2013 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Literary Cafes of Europe

Cafe Central, Vienna (Wiki)

In The Grand Literary Cafes of Europe (New Holland) Noel Riley Fitch celebrates the architecture, history, decor, charm and popularity of some of the world’s greatest creativity incubators. Since the 16th century…

“the caffe, Kaffeehaus, kawiarnia, or coffeehouse – has been central to urban cultural and artistic life. In Europe and elsewhere, it is a place to start and end the day, to read, compose, gossip, debate or mull over the intricacies of a chess move. This beautifully illustrated book takes the reader on a tour of the great literary cafes of Europe, encompassing cities as diverse as London, Lisbon, Budapest, Rome and Prague. Focusing on the famous writers and artists who frequented these historic places, this book examines the role of the cafe in culture and society”

Cafés profiled include:

AUSTRIA, Vienna: Cafés Landtmann, Griensteidl, Central;  Salzburg: Cafés Tomaselli, Bazar

CZECH REPUBLICPrague: Cafés Slavia, Montmartre, Evropa

DENMARK, Copenhagen: Café à Porta

FRANCE, Paris: Café des Deux Magots. La Closerie des Lilas, La Coupole, Café du Dôme, de Flore, Le Fouquet’s, Brasserie Lipp, Café de la Paix, Le Procope, Café Sélect

GERMANYMunich: Café Luitpold, Berlin: Café Wintergarten in Literaturhaus, Café Einstein; Liepzig: Künstlercafé in the Kaffeebaum

GREAT BRITAIN, London: Café Royal, Kettner’s

HUNGARY, BudapestCafé Gerbeaud, Central Kávéház, Café New York

ITALYFlorence: Giubbe Rosse, Padova: Caffè Pedrocchi; Rome: Caffè Greco; Venice: Caffè Florian, Gran Caffè Quadri

NORWAY, Oslo: Grand Café

PORTUGAL, Lisbon: Café A Brasileira

ROMANIA, Bucharest: Café Capsa

RUSSIA, St. Petersberg: Literary Café , Stray Dog; Moscow: Central House of Writers

SPAINBarcelona: Café Els Quatre Gats, Café de l’Opera, Madrid: Café Comercial , Café Gijón, Café de Oriente

SWITZERLAND, Zurich: Café Odeon

THE NETHERLANDS, Amsterdam: Café Américan

July 29th, 2013 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Visiting Letterpress Print Shops throughout the Eastern United States

The latest issue of the Devil’s Artisan will be of great interest to those who love books and travel. In other words…you. It features a lengthy and entertaining travelogue entitled ‘The Arcane Adventures of a Tramp Printer Abroad, Being a True Account of a Canadian Typographer’s Visit to Sundry American Letterpress Print Shops’, by Andrew Steeves, co-owner of Gaspereau Press and one of Canada’s most accomplished book designers and printers. It traces an 8800 Km trip he took in his truck from Kentville, Nova Scotia out to Iowa and back last Fall via Missouri, Alabama, Tennessee, New York, New Hampshire and Maine, among other other places, and gives a good taste of what the lives and locales of the letterpress printers he meets along the way are like. 

Despite the fact that he makes a point of separating himself from those of us who merely possess a “curiosity and ‘gosh-golly-wow!’ fascination with the idealized notion of the working Linotype machine, with its whirring mechanisms and its mysterious alchemy,” – forgetting perhaps that it we who are the mostly likely to purchase what is printed by these wonderful machines -  his journey is one that most Literary Tourists would, I’m sure, love to replicate.

From Larry Raid’s Linotype University in Denmark, Iowa to Hannibal, Missouri (to honour both Mark Twain, and Jim Rimmer “who loved Twain’s writing so much he named one of his metal typefaces Hannibal”), Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.’s print shop in Gordo, Alabama to Hatch Show Print in Nashville, Larkspur Press in Kentucky and Bixler Press and Letterfoundry in upstate New York, Steeves takes us on quite the trip. The writing is refreshingly honest and direct – and great fun to read. If you’re not inspired to try something similar after finishing it, perhaps literary isn’t the kind of tourism you should be practicing. 

 

July 23rd, 2013 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Literary Tourists and Letterpress fanatics – Head to Kentville, Nova Scotia this October

The Gaspereau Press Wayzgoose will take place this year on Saturday October 26th in Kentville, Nova Scotia with activities throughout the day. Guests printers will include Jason Dewinetz, printer, Greenboathouse Press (Vernon, BC), George Walker, printer, Biting Dog Press (Toronto, ON) and  Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr., printerKennedy Prints (last know address, Gordo, Alabama).

These letterpress printing giants will put ink to paper and chew the cud with attendees all day long. There’ll also be readings by heralded writers, among them Nova Scotia’s Sue Goyette and Dana Mills. A writers’ salon is planned for the morning, printing demos will take place in the shop all day, and more readings and The Douglas Lochhead Memorial Lecture (delivered by Dewinetz) are scheduled for the evening.

In addition, the hope is to officially launch Rod McDonald’s new typeface, ‘Goluska’, at the wayzgoose. Goluska is named in tribute to the late Canadian typographer Glenn Goluska whose letterpress collection was acquired by Gaspereau Press in 2012.

July 23rd, 2013 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Literary Tourist hits The Berkshires

ALBANY, NY: The day started on a downer, with another

old bookstore biting the dust. Appeared as if a cyclone

had hit it. Books strewn all over the place. Upstairs, porn magazines,

looking strangely anachronistic, littered the floor. Sad and tawdry. Some lawyers from New York City have bought the building. It’ll be gutted, cleaned and turned into nice proper corporate office space, to complement this

nearby

roost. Albany has some pretty cool architecture going for it, despite, or more accurately because of, having seen better days. We drove East toward Springfield. First stop was

Berkshire Books in Chatham. Very nice well organized little shop. Clean, filled with mylar-jacketed books. The owner clearly has a good eye for interesting titles. Turns out he was in the publishing business with Rizzoli for many years prior to setting up this shop.

A short drive North and we hit

Librarium Used Books, attached to a home set in the middle of a large lawn a bit off the highway. Found Saguenay here, a book with an attractive  Thoreau MacDonald-designed jacket and end papers.

This area is known as the Berkshires. There are three writers houses close by: Herman Melville’s Arrowhead on the road up from Lenox toward Pittsfield. Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Steepletop estate , located near Austerlitz as is The Millay Colony for the Arts

founded in 1973 by Edna’s sister (In the office we saw a collection of Edna’s poetry books,

including her first, Renaissance published by Mitchell Kennerley (listen to my interview on Kennerley with Dan Boice here), and back down in Lenox you’ll find The Mount, Edith Wharton’s magnificent summer house surrounded by gardens that she designed herself. Shakespeare & Co.

used to put on plays here until they moved into their own facility – more

like

a

campus actually – just down the road. The evening highlight wasn’t the play (Love’s Labour’s Lost – women were good, men could have been more subtle – overly slapstick, too much mugging) that the company put on, but rather a great conversation with one of its lead actors (and Communications Director) Elizabeth Aspenlieder and Tony Simotes, the company’s artistic director. Stay tuned for the audio. In the playhouse lobby there was a display of old and rare editions of Shakespeare’s plays on sale

courtesy of a local antiquarian dealer. Most impressive piece of partnering.

What with the bookshops, the authors’ houses and Shakespeare, there’s much packed in to this artful patch of the world; enough in fact to keep the literary tourist engaged and happy for days on end.

For details on all the bookstores and various literary destinations found in the Berkshires, click here to go to the Literary Tourist Route Planner. Enter Albany, NY and Springfield, MA, et voila.

July 13th, 2013 • Posted in Literary Destinations

John Donne’s House

This is a house where poet John Donne lived and wrote some of his works; it is adjacent to the Wey Navigation canal near Ripley, Surrey

July 13th, 2013 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Video: Literary Tourist tracks Nabokov in Montreux, St. Petersburg, Ithaca