FSG Originals Series alumnus John Darnielle has had a very good week.
His novel Wolf in White Van launched on Monday night with John Hodgman and a house packed with fans at Le Poisson Rouge (believe us, reader, when we say fans—we were there for the tears and the hugs as John signed books afterwards); the book pub’d on Tuesday; yesterday John’s pretty deep and intense conversation with Terry Gross went live on NPR’s Fresh Air; and last night we got the news that Wolf was longlisted for the National Book Award.
It’s a surprise, of course, but also not. This novel is, in the words of Claire Vaye Watkins, “savage genius gone free range . . . absolutely fucking brilliant.” It should win all of the awards.
Doomsday approacheth! Or, rather, has been on the horizon since 1993, when Lighthouse Digest Magazine created the Doomsday List of Endangered Lighthouses. These structures, once essential navigational aids—not to mention cultural landmarks, symbolic touchstones—are in danger of disappearing from coastlines around the world. In his wonderfully Sebaldian Op-Ed for the New York Times, Jeff VanderMeer writes about the mysterious and endangered “attracters of ghost stories, smugglers’ tales and shipwrecks,” and makes a somewhat qualified argument for their preservation and restoration, particularly as it applies to his own local lighthouse (doesn’t everyone have one?), The St. Marks Lighthouse in northern Florida.
There is also a selfish part of me, the part that likes to be off the edge of the map, that feels the damaged lighthouse is somehow more authentic than the one that will be created through restoration. This is a place that has survived hurricanes, Confederate bombings, the constant threat of erosion. It has always been on the edge of being snuffed out. That is its natural state—and the entropy against which each lighthouse keeper fought, night after night, before there were no more lighthouse keepers.
If you missed last week’s Originals Series with Catherine Lacey, Sasha Frere-Jones, and Isaac Fitzgerald at Interstate, we have to say: you really biffed it.
Catherine Lacey sticks it to the reporters and reviewers who assume “novelists are just a blink and a name away from their narrators.” It’s a nice (not to mention important and articulate and kind of sassy) reminder of the project of fiction, and why we all continue to love it so much. Read the whole piece, “A Need to Disappear,” here, at BuzzFeed.
Etgar Keret, who lives in Tel Aviv with his family, admits that when he started writing this piece—originally published in Israel, now in the LA Times—he “found it hard to write an article on peace without feeling like an idiot, or at the very least, like someone completely cut off from reality.”
And that was before the current situation in Gaza erupted. The urgency and the predictability of the latest conflagration caused him to reconsider the very basis of how he had come to think about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
If peace is so hopelessly unachievable, maybe it’s time to give up on “peace.” Time to find a more honest way to frame things. It’s a simple, reasonable, maybe even hopeful proposal for a situation that rarely inspires such adjectives. Give it a read.
Regular attendees of the FSG Originals Series know David Rees as our indefatigable host (and sometime scene-stealer), as at ease refereeing Frank Bill and John Darnielle as he is re-enacting a Stevie Nicks video with Lindsay Hunter and Holly Miranda, provoking John Jeremiah Sullivan or sharing secrets with Amelia Gray. Regular attendees of the FSG Originals series also know that David has been absent from host seat recently—BECAUSE HE’S BEEN MAKING HIS VERY OWN TV SHOW. That’s right, Going Deep with David Rees premieres tonight at 10 PM on Nat Geo TV (AKA The National Geographic Channel), right after Brain Games.
Here’s how David precaps it:
It’s a how-to show that teaches you THE BEST WAY to do things you think you already know how to do: Open a door, climb a tree, dig a hole, etc… It’s an honest-to-goodness instructional TV show, with expert advice from scientists and obsessive tinkerers and even religious authorities… But it’s also a little bonkers. We shot it in my house and I made all the animations and a lot of the music—we’re talking about artisanal, locally sourced, grass-fed television. The big message of the show is: OUR WORLD IS A VERY INTERESTING PLACE AND WE ARE LUCKY TO BE HERE. I hope you will watch it and have fun doing so.
And be sure to tune in to David’s Twitter feed for live annotations during the broadcast.
Will it sound something like this? Who can say! But what we do know is, it’s going to be a great time.
Space is limited; you must RSVP to attend.
66 Knickerbocker Ave
Thursday, July 24th, 7 pm