Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Lunch with M-House AKA Steven Millhauser

A few of my classmates and I just had lunch with Steven Millhauser, author of awesome books like The Knife-Thrower, In the Penny Arcade, Martin Dressler, and the forthcoming Dangerous Laughter. Things discussed:
  • Spencer's The Faerie Queene, and, related to that, Millhauser's love for vertical lines-- stories with attics, basements, and level ground.

  • Teaching undergrads, and how it's best to be kind and encouraging.

  • The wonders of a patron, and, in lieu of that, a one class per 2 semester teaching load at a place like Skidmore, where Millhauser teaches.

  • The new "realism" of his recent stories, which he has been reading almost like a rapper, which birthed his new rap name, M-House.

  • He rocks my world. Read him.

    Monday, October 29, 2007

    A Report on Last Night's Sister Spit Show

    It was awesome. And when they come to your town, you have to go see them. That's all there really is to it. Hot chicks in badass outfits spittin' stories and rhymes. What more could you want? One of my favorites was this artist chick Texta Queen who wore this sick red jumpsuit with color markers for tassles.

    Phoebe Gloeckner sat next to me. I was dying. She is very cool and humble. I wrote my name in her cute little notepad.

    I love my town today.

    Friday, October 26, 2007

    Happy Weekend

    From the All-England Summarize Proust Competition

    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    Oh, Oscar: Play Nice with Foreign Films, Already

    Patrick Goldstein writes in the LA Times today about the Oscar Committee's decision not to nominate a popular Israeli movie because it has English in it. The film, "The Band's Visit," is "about an Egyptian police band that finds itself stranded in a dusty Israeli desert town." The movie sounds awesome! Go here for more about the film. OScar or no Oscar, I hope it gets wide distribution.

    Monday, October 22, 2007

    Ms. Randa's Workshop

    I'm all signed up to teach an undergrad creative writing workshop at the University of Michigan. I'm so excited-- I nerdily spent Friday night writing my syllabus, or the introductory part of it. I have my coursepack all ready, and it includes some of my favorite poets (Plath, Darwish, Milosz) and short story writers (Eudora Welty, Borges, and Jane Bowles, whose Camp Cataract is on of the most perfect stories ever written). More updates about teaching writing in the Winter...

    I heart Satrapi

    From the Sunday Magazine, Deborah Soloman interviews Marjane Satrapi:
    Still, in your work, you are constantly contrasting your love of food, smoking and sensual pleasures with the acts of self-denial demanded by the mullahs, like wearing a chador. It’s a problem for women no matter the religion or the society. If in Muslim countries they try to cover the woman, in America they try to make them look like a piece of meat.

    Are you suggesting that veiling and unveiling women are equally reductive? I disagree. We have to look at ourselves here also. Why do all the women get plastic surgery? Why? Why? Why should we look like some freaks with big lips that look like an anus? What is so sexy about that? What is sexy about having something that looks like a goose anus?
    Marry me, Marjane.

    Wednesday, October 17, 2007

    To my New Orleans Readers

    From Andy Young, the editor of Meena Magazine, an excellent bi-lingual journal which I think of as the Paris Review of Arabic Literature:
    Meena, the bilingual Arabic/English literary journal Khaled and I co-edit, will be doing an event at NOCCA to kick off the Faulkner Festival. We will feature two great women who have contributed to our first two issues, Dr. Salma Jayussi and Ibtisam Barakat, as well as Stuart LeBlanc on oud. Please mark your calendars and spread the word so that we can show there is an interest in creating an Arabic/English dialogue!

    November 14th
    7:00 PM
    2800 Chartres Street
    Check it out, New Orleans readers...

    Exciting news

    Canadian legislators recently conceded the right to raise the Palestinian flag over the Palestinian embassy in Ottawa, Canada.

    Now, let's get the state to accompany it!!!

    Monday, October 15, 2007

    Olive-Picking Season

    Yesterday marked the beginning of Olive Harvest in Palestine. But according to this JP article, not everyone will be able to reach their land, or harvest their crop, and some people won't be able to even prove that the land is theirs within the next two generations.

    Halving the West Bank Their Way

    From The Globe and Mail:
    One day after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called on his people to prepare to make painful concessions ahead of a U.S.-hosted peace process, an Israeli newspaper revealed that his government has ordered the expropriation of Palestinian land to build a highway.

    Israeli and Palestinian analysts believe the move is meant to give the Jewish state control over a large chunk of Palestinian territory from Jerusalem east to the Jordan Valley.

    The Israeli army issued the order to expropriate 1,100 dunams of land from four Arab villages, the Israeli broadsheet Haaretz reported yesterday. (A dunam is 1,000 square metres.)

    One Million Voices

    New York-based group One Voice, "which aims to collect one million signatures from ordinary Israelis and Palestinians demanding that political leaders finalise an agreement on a Palestinian state living at peace with Israel," organized concerts in Tel Aviv and Jericho, but they were canceled at the last minute due to security concerns and because One Voice "ignored key Palestinian perspectives on a lasting peace, including the issue Palestinian refugees."

    Go to the website to pledge your support to the campaign.

    Go here
    to learn about the summit happening this Wednesday.

    Friday, October 12, 2007

    Eid Mubarak!

    Happy Eid to all you fasters out there.

    I called my folks in Kuwait to wish them a Eid Mubarak, and my mom answered and sounded nasal. I asked her if she had a cold, and she said no. She said she'd spent the day partying with friends and that she and my dad were winding down and watching their Eid Tamsiliyyas (the Egyptian version of telenovelas or soaps). She tried to convince me to get ART and other Arabic channels. We chatted some more and then she handed the phone to my dad. My dad sounded nasal too.

    "Baba, are you sick?"
    "No, no."
    "Are you sure? You and Mom sound nasal. You sound like you have a cold."
    "You do. You have a cold."
    "No. I was crying. We're watching tamsiliyyas. This one was so good. You have to watch it."
    "You were crying?"
    "Yes. This character has a kid young, then spends her whole life being there for him. Then he makes a mistake that causes her death. She dies! Then, he discovers he'salmost 60 and can't live without his mother. It's so sad!"

    My parents are so sweet, y'all.

    Bread-making Machine Review

    My translation of Hassan Daoud's novel is reviewed in today's Daily Star. A snippet:
    Adolescence suspends and sustains that space - beautifully depicted in a single, exquisite, nearly Hemingway-esque chapter in which all the boys head to the beach on a day off from the bakery for the eid - but it is clearly diminishing as the novel unfolds. Daoud's book is both a dramatically spare coming of age story and a poignant account of a young man entering into class consciousness - and all the sad, retreating horizons of possibility that such a process entails.
    Read the full review here.

    Tuesday, October 09, 2007

    Palestine: New Edition

    Fantagraphics is printing a new, comprehensive edition of Joe Sacco's Palestine. They're hosting several events to coincide with the release in Seattle-- wish I could go!
    The LA Times has a new Middle East blog, with stuff about Knesset members in jeans and superstars in Cairo. You might dig it.

    Related: This article about Egyptian cinema.

    Friday, October 05, 2007

    Reading Tonight

    Southeast Michigan peeps: Come to my reading!The University of Michigan MFA program does these for its graduating folks, in a cool, fancy room in the Michigan League. I'm busting out a "spankin' new" story, which I've been revising for a few months. I'm excited about sharing new work. And about the chick wrestlers on the flyer.

    Tuesday, October 02, 2007

    The 11th Annual Arab Film Fest

    is coming to SF, Berkeley, LA, and San Jose.

    Watch the trailer here.

    Go here for a list of the films.

    Lots of Palestinian, Egyptian, Lebanese, and Iraqi offerings.

    Wish I could see Since You Left, by Mohammed Bakri: "a renowned Israeli Arab actor and director, visits the grave of his mentor, the late Palestinian writer and politician Emile Habibi (1921-96), to share with Habibi what has happened since his death."

    Newly discovered treasure:

    ...The Arab Image Foundation, a bank of images made by Arabs, of Arabs. It's beautiful. Go here to search hundred of pictures: pictures of Palestinian chicks sitting on cars in 1962; of girls in bikinis; of men and women in native costume; of families and coastlines... and hundreds of others. Enjoy!

    Link via Jim

    Monday, October 01, 2007

    Sorry for the silence; I have been revising my short stories and preparing for a reading. Posts may be light for a few days...