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Posts Tagged ‘Antonya Nelson’

W. Eugene Smith’s Wichita

June 22, 2011 | by

A postcard of Wichita, KS, ca. 1900. The Wichita State University Library Special Collections.

Last year I visited Wichita, Kansas, for the first time, a guest of the Ulrich Museum of Art, where I gave a talk on W. Eugene Smith, a native son. At dinner afterward, the photographer Larry Schwarm asked, “Do you have pictures of Smith all over your house?” I’ve come to expect the question of whether I identify with Smith’s obsessions, but it had never been framed like this. I paused, pondered, then answered that I didn’t have any pictures of Smith in my house. I do have pictures of Joseph Mitchell, Flannery O’Connor, Bernard Malamud, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, Emmylou Harris, and the hand of Wilco’s drummer, Glenn Kotche. But none of Smith.

I visited Wichita again last April to give another talk at the Ulrich. Like the first trip, I spent several extra days soaking up the town and researching its history, trying to learn as much as I could about Smith’s roots from the vantage of nearly a century later. Nabokov once wrote that examining his childhood was “the next best thing to probing one’s eternity.” But what about probing someone else’s childhood, someone long dead? Rather than my memory or other people’s memories (there aren’t many alive who can attest to Smith’s childhood), I’m investigating faint footprints—artifacts, news clippings, whatever I can find. It seems flimsy, never quite enough.

Between 1900 and 1930, Wichita’s population grew almost five-fold, from 24,000 to 110,000. It was a pioneer town. With few binding traditions and conventions, anything could happen. People could move to town from the farm and figure out ways to make money. It became known as “Magic City.” It also became known as the “Air Capitol of the World,” home to Cessna, Beech, and other aircraft manufacturers during the ascent of that industry.

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A Week in Culture: Carolyn Kellogg, Part 2

October 21, 2010 | by

This is the second installment of Kellogg’s culture diary. Click here to read the first.

DAY FOUR

7:00 A.M. I wake up to finish Bound by Antonya Nelson, and then spend the rest of the day running errands, sorting through books that have arrived, and trying to wrap my head around what to say in my review. It’s due Monday and runs next Sunday.

DAY FIVE

1:00 P.M. It’s back to Book Soup, this time for my friend Cecil Castellucci’s midday reading from her young-adult novel Rose Sees Red. I give Cecil a ride to the airport—she’s off to Wordstock in Portland—and head right back to Book Soup. There are plenty of other places to go for readings and signings in Los Angeles, I swear, but it’s become Book Soup week. This time, Lorin Stein talks to a full house about The Paris Review with David L. Ulin. Nobody gets punched in the nose.

DAY SIX

6:00 A.M. Up and trying to finish the Bound review and blog at the same time. Coffee helps.

5:00 P.M. Leave the paper to drive the hour-plus to UCLA for the Look at This F*ing Panel: A Sociological Discussion on the Hipster, a follow-up to one held last year in New York. The audience, mostly students, is not overly hipsterized, except for the proliferation of crocheted hats, which can only be an unfortunate fashion statement on an eighty-degree day.

DAY SEVEN

6:00 A.M. Writing up the hipster panel for Jacket Copy, Tao Lin and his fans in the audience look good, and my admiration for Gavin McInnes, shirtless and full of counterintuitive interruptions is too subtle. Alas, McInnes, a cofounder of Vice Magazine, later tweets that my review is “wimpy,” which I tell myself is marginally better than “boring,” his other critique.

11:30 A.M. At my desk at the paper, trying to sort out ongoing login problems and prepping for the Man Booker Prize announcement. There are people in London gathered at a gala event; me, I’m frustrated that the BBC, which is broadcasting it, isn’t making the stream available in the U.S. Luckily, someone tweets a version of the feed I can see. It’s jittery, a hack I think, but it does the trick. Read More »

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