Blurbed: What to Read, See and Do in August 2018

Welcome to Blurbed, a new round-up of literary recommendations from the editors and contributors at the Columbia Journal! Each month, Blurbed will feature a curated list of things to read, events to attend and news from the Journal.

What to Read

“What Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre taught me about love,” Dazed
A thoughtful reimagining of relationships.—Jacquelyn Gallo, Print Managing Editor

Belly Up by Rita Bullwinkel
I’m a bit late to the excellence that is this collection of stories, particularly the story “What I Would Be If I Wasn’t What I Am,” but if you haven’t already picked up your copy, you should. It was named a Small Press Bestseller for May and June. For a taste, check out the story “Black Tongue”: “I remember thinking, why did I do this thing that I knew was going to have a bad ending?”—Christopher Williams, Operations Manager

“Jeff VanderMeer on the Art and Science of Structuring a Novel,” Electric Literature
I’m fascinated whenever an author talks about the mechanics of writing, and structure is something that is often talked-about but not really dissected, in my experience. Plus, there are some great illustrations for visual learners.—Adrian Perez, Editor in Chief

“Who is Nanette?” Paris Review Daily
I loved this powerful and personal essay on Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette, a comedy special that transcends comedy. The essay begins: “When I look at Hannah Gadsby, I see myself.” You will want to keep reading.—Kiley Bense, Online Managing Editor

Florida by Lauren Groff
In her stories, Lauren Groff is able to tap into the small, weird details of life, of people, of place, and make them come alive. I think this collection is great for many reasons, but I’m especially intrigued by how the stories are both completely unrelated to one another, yet actually very related at the same time.—Charlee Dyroff, Contributor

“How the Self-Publishing Industry Changed, Between My First and Second Novels,” Longreads
An area I think writers need to read more about is the business side of publishing, the nuts and bolts of it all. This essay is interesting because it’s from a self-published author’s point-of-view, which encompasses the artistic and business side of writing.—Adrian Perez, Editor in Chief

What to Watch: Eighth Grade
Written and directed by Bo Burnham, this movie features a wonderful script about a teenaged girl in eighth grade who is forced to deal with social performance in a rapidly changing technological landscape. When asked how he wrote a screenplay about a 14-year-old girl, Burnham said that he practiced transcribing videos of teenage vloggers on YouTube. The script doesn’t endeavor to build a narrative. It is not the story of a grown-up looking back at high school with fondness. Burnham instead conveys his protagonist’s anxiety in a way that seems visceral and immediate.Sophia Mansingh, Contributor

What to See & Do

August 13, 6:30 pm: Alexander Chee with Crystal Hana Kim at the NYPL 
Alexander Chee’s latest, How to Read an Autobiographical Novel, is stunning and raw in all the right places, while Crystal Hana Kim’s debut novel If You Leave Me is a beautiful story about love, war and family. We interviewed both of these talented writers just this week at Read our conversation with Alexander Chee here, Crystal Hana Kim on her writing process here, and go see them together on August 13 at the New York Public Library!—Kiley Bense, Online Managing Editor

August 13, 8 pm: Franklin Park Reading Series
The reading series at Franklin Park are always a hoot – good readings, raffles, and lots of fellow writers.—Adrian Perez, Editor in Chief

August 14, 7 pm: Graywolf Poetry Tour
Graywolf Press publishes some of the most compelling writing around. This event will feature Saskia Hamilton, Matthea Harvey, Erika L. Sánchez, and Susan Stewart. Sometimes you just want to sit in a park, listen to poetry and believe doing that kind of thing matters.—Katie Shepherd, Online Nonfiction Editor

August 16, 7 pm: Get WiT Us! Women in Translation: A Reading and Discussion
This event is a great opportunity to learn about women translating works into English today.—Liz Von Klemperer, Online Fiction Editor

August 18, 10 am: Small Press Flea
Find sweet deals on books published by some of my favorite small presses! Meet and mingle with literary folks.—Liz Von Klemperer, Online Fiction Editor

August 28, 7 pm: Everyday People Launch Event
Celebrate the release of Jennifer Baker’s anthology Everyday People: The Color of Life with a reading of contemporary short fiction from writers of color as well as a reception. The Langston Hughes house is an amazing, historic venue and beautiful place for readings.—Nadia Ismail, Poetry Board

Journal News

You have until August 10 to submit fiction and translation to Columbia Journal’s online team! See details on our Submit page.

Words to Write By

“Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance.”—James Baldwin, born on August 2, 1924

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