Welcome to Grove at Home!
Every weekday, from now until we’re all out of the house again, we’ll be sharing a couple of links — some fresh, some from the vault — to say hi, remind you to keep reading, and let you know what’s on our minds.
Friday, February 12th
Today marks the 212th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, America’s sixteenth president, and, in the opinion of many, its best. To celebrate, we recommend checking out some of the materials we’ve shared over the months from Ed Achorn, author of Every Drop of Blood: The Momentous Second Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln — including his conversation with Lapham’s Quarterly editor Lewis Lapham, and his talk at the Newport’s Redwood Library and Athenæum. Today we’re also remembering Lincoln with this clip of Land of Lincoln author Andrew Ferguson, reflecting on the Great Emancipator and his legacy.
Sonia Faleiro reports for Time on Indian comedian Munawar Iqbal Faruqui, “the face of his country”
This week, we had the honor of publishing The Good Girls, Sonia Faleiro’s riveting account of what happened when the bodies of two inseparable teenage friends were found hanging from a tree in a tiny Indian village in 2014. We also had the pleasure of reading a new story by Faleiro in Time, about the strange fate that has befallen Indian stand-up comic Munawar Iqbal Faruqui — arrested for a joke, as part of a “majoritarian wave sweeping India.”
“It was going to be the best year of Munawar Iqbal Faruqui’s life. The 29-year-old stand-up comic from Mumbai was set to complete his first tour of India. His YouTube channel had crossed 500,000 subscribers. And in the spring, he was to perform his first international show in Dubai. “His dreams were coming true,” a close family member, who asked not to be named, told me.” Continue reading…
Let Bill Brewster spin you into the weekend
There’s been… a lot going on lately. It’s Friday. Relax. Let a DJ set by Bill Brewster and Piers Harrison carry you into the weekend.
Thursday, February 11th
Just a few days ago, we shared Spanish author Enrique Vila-Matas’s reminiscences of joining Marguerite Duras’s protest against the Ayatollah Khomeini at thee house in Neauphle-le-Château where he lived in exile in the late seventies (having spent more than a decade before that in exile in Iraq). Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the victory of the Iranian Revolution, after the nation’s army proclaimed neutrality in the struggle between the Ayatollah’s followers and the backers of Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar, and we’re watching this clip of Roya Hakakian — poet, former 60 Minutes producer, and author of Assassins of the Turquoise Palace — discussing the state of human rights in Iran in 2013.
Sonia Faleiro on the many missing children of Uttar Pradesh
This week, we’re celebrating the publication of The Good Girls, Sonia Faleiro’s powerful account of what happened when the bodies of two inseparable teenage girls were found hanging from a tree in a remote corner of the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Today, Crime Reads has published a powerful excerpt from the book — and you should read it at once.
“To the Shakyas, the threshold of a police station could feel as insurmountable as a fortress wall. The Indian police were known for their dismissive attitude towards the poor. They were meant to serve and protect, but they were just as likely to kill. The roughly shaven, khaki-clad men of the local force had the most terrifying reputation of all. ‘UP police ka koi bharosa nahin,’ it was said. You never know with the UP police.” Continue reading…
At long last, after so much waiting, we’re now less than two months from publishing Last Chance Texaco, the tender, candid, altogether excellent memoir from rock legend Rickie Lee Jones. To help tide us all over, here’s Rickie Lee’s downright unforgettable performance of “All the Young Dudes,” Mott the Hoople’s 1972 hit. The performance was part of star-studded tribute to the song’s writer, David Bowie, that took place at New York’s Radio City Music Hall on April 1, 2016, just a few months after his death. Last Chance Texaco hits bookstores on April 6 (you can go ahead and pre-order it now!).
Wednesday, February 10th
Today marks the 123rd birthday of the German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht, whose pungent language, brilliant dramatic innovations, and powerful sense of the relationship between social movements and the arts have made him one of the most admired and influential artists of the twentieth century. Lest we forget that the heroic perception of Brecht prevailing today was far from universal during his own lifetime, here’s dramatic footage of his October 30, 1947 appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee, where his interrogators included an ambitious first-term Congressperson named Richard Nixon. A refugee from fascism, Brecht had been living in the United States for six years at this point, and his testimony — which could be described as minimally cooperative — was decried by some as a betrayal of the so-called “Hollywood Ten,” who refused to participate in the hearings and were cited for contempt of Congress (their story is dramatized in the recent movie Trumbo). The following day, Brecht left the US for now-divided Berlin, where he would live another nine years before dying of a heart attack at fifty-eight.
Kate Hollander discusses Brecht, his work, and his lovers with Michael Robinson
Late last year, poet and historian Kate Hollander appeared with Michael Robinson on his Literary Hub podcast, “Time to Eat the Dogs,” to discuss Brecht, his work, and his milieu — a word that, in Brecht’s case, does little to describe to circle of comrades and lovers with whom he collaborated intensively to produce his distinctive work. The conversation is riveting.
“One of the things that I was hoping the poem [‘After the Death of My Collaborator, MS’] would give me, and I think it did, was a look into what it meant that they were fellow fighters in the fight for socialism and against fascism. They were tender with each other. They were dear lovers and friends, and they were also artistic partners. And she could be quite harsh as a critic. Harsh isn’t the right word—stringent maybe is the right word. She was an ambitious critic and an ambitious editor for him.” Continue reading, and listen…
Some songs by Brecht
While he was himself not a musician, through his collaborations as a lyricist with composers Kurt Weil and Hanns Eisler, Brecht was the co-author of some very popular songs. Here are a few favorite performances to get you through the morning.
Bobby Darin sings “Mack the Knife”
David Bowie sings “Alabama Song”
Nina Simone sings “Pirate Jenny”
Tom Waits sings “What Keeps Mankind Alive?”
H.K. Gruber sings “Solidarity Song”
The Muppets (try to) sing “Mack the Knife”
Tuesday, February 9th
Sonia Faleiro discusses writing on the margins
Today, we have the honor of publishing The Good Girls, writer and journalist Sonia Faleiro’s fearlessly reported account of the shocking 2014 deaths of two teenage girls in a tiny village in Uttar Pradesh, India. The book has already been widely praised — for one example, the Wall Street Journal calls it “a riveting—sometimes astonishing—work of forensic journalism” — which is no surprise to readers who’ve followed Faleiro’s career (including her earlier work of powerhouse reportage, Beautiful Thing). In this 2011 clip, Faleiro speaks to a TedX audience in Amsterdam, sharing her perspective on writing at the margins.
Joyce Carol Oates could not have written Kafka’s books, because she did not live Kafka’s life
In a terrific new interview at Literary Hub, the great Joyce Carol Oates — surely one of the past masters of American writing, in any number of genres — opens up about her favorite books, her issues with War and Peace, the weird questions interviewers sometimes ask, and more. We are, obviously, huge and admiring fans of Oates’s work (you can tell because we’ve published ten of her books, most recently Cardiff, by the Sea), and we’re enjoying this read quite a lot.
“LH: Is there a book you wish you had written?
“JCO: Is this a serious question? There are thousands of worthy books, not to mention great plays by (for instance) Shakespeare, Euripides, Eugene O’Neill. One would have to be terribly naive not to wish to have written any great classic. (Except of course the question is meaningless since, to have written any work—Kafka’s fiction, for instance—one would have to be that person, and it is possible to be only ourselves.)” Continue reading…
There is never a bad time to listen to Amiri Baraka, the American poet, critic, thinker, and organizer who died at his home in Newark — the native city he preferred to call “New Ark,” of which is son is today the mayor — seven years and one month ago today. In 2003, in an interview for the African American Review, poet and publisher Kalamu ya Salaam asked Baraka, “For all artists there are moments of clarity that are so absolute everybody can see them… For example, Kind of Blue will always be one of [Miles Davis’s] more definitive statements… In terms of your writing, what is your Kind of Blue, your Love Supreme?” Baraka replied, “Why’s actually says that in a lot of ways.” In this clip filmed in 2009, Baraka reads from that epic work, whose full title is Wise Why’s Y’s.
Monday, February 8th
Sonia Faleiro talks to Scott Simon
“They were loved. But they were treated like belongings.” Tomorrow, we publish The Good Girls, journalist Sonia Faleiro’s powerful look at an unspeakable double murder that sent shockwaves radiating from the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh in 2014. This weekend, Sonia appeared on NPR’s Weekend Edition to discuss the book, and the events it examines, with Scott Simon. Listen today, get the book tomorrow.
In 1996, the acclaimed Spanish author Enrique Vila-Matas wrote a remembrance of the writer and filmmaker Marguerite Duras, who had died a few months earlier. Nearly a quarter-century later, the streaming service Mubi republished Vila-Matas’s essay, in an English translation, to accompany the streaming of Duras’s film India Song. It’s a strange and powerful essay, with scenes that include Duras leading a protest against the Ayatollah Khomeini at his house in Neauphle-le-Château, a confrontation with a Francoist moviegoer, and more.
“In Café de Flore, sat with Duras and her friend Raúl Escari, I remember having asked, out of the blue, what it was that really made her laugh. Duras looked at me, smiled, finished off her cigarette and said: ‘Banana skins. People slipping and breaking their noses. I’m very classic.’” Continue reading…
Today would have been the 95th birthday of Neal Cassady, the legendary Beat muse who became a fixture in the writing of close friends like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Here, in a couple of brief clips filmed at San Francisco’s legendary City Lights Books not long before Cassady’s death in 1968 at the age of 41, Ginsberg converses with Cassady — who unleashes a series of extreme and at times inscrutable opinions — and reads some of his own work, including his legendary poem “Kral Majales,” which recounts his being crowned May King in Czecholovakia in 1965, shortly before being expelled from the country.