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, January 8
John Oliver on US history, the 1898 Wilmington coup, and more
As we all continue to process the news from what’s been a difficult and at times baffling week, it’s worth revisiting this segment that aired on HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver last summer. In discussing the immensity of the history that’s routinely forgotten or even suppressed, Oliver raises, by way of example, a passage from Wilmington’s Lie, Pulitzer Prize-winner David Zucchino’s definitive account of the bloody white supremacist uprising that in 1898 overthrew the elected government of Wilmington, North Carolina — then the state’s capital and largest city. It remains the only successful coup ever to take place on American soil. (A few months before this segment aired, we watched as a memorial to one of the coup’s primary organizers was finally removed from nearby Raleigh.) It’s a powerful clip, with an excellent cameo by Zucchino, and clearly more relevant this week than ever. (If you’re in a hurry, you can skip to David’s appearance at the eighteen-minute mark.)
David Zucchino on Wilmington’s White Supremacist Coup of 1898
Shortly before we published Wilmington’s Lie last year, Literary Hub ran a powerful excerpt from the book. In light of the events of this week, it makes for more urgent reading than ever. The history is closer, and more terrible, than we may wish to remember.
“The killers came by streetcar. Their boots struck the packed clay earth like muffled drum beats as they bounded from the cars and began to patrol the wide dirt roads. The men scanned the sidewalks and alleyways for targets. They wore red calico shirts or short red jackets over white butterfly collars. They were working men, with calloused hands and sunburned faces beneath their wide-brimmed hats. Many of them tucked their trousers into their boot tops. A few wore neckties. Each one carried a gun.” Continue reading…
Gil Scott-Heron sings “We Almost Detroit”
It’s been a difficult week. Here’s some soothing and beautiful footage of Gil Scott-Heron singing his dulcet plea for nuclear responsibility, “We Almost Lost Detroit,” in the UK in March 1990.
Thursday, January 7
David Zucchino discusses the only successful coup in American history with Mark Bowden
Given the news of the week, it’s an excellent time to revisit this discussion between two acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists: the legendary Mark Bowden and David Zucchino, whose landmark book Wilmington’s Lie, coming in paperback January 19th, offers the definitive account of the only successful coup ever staged on American soil — the 1898 white supremacist uprising that rampaged through North Carolina’s then-capitol and largest city, murdering dozens of Black citizens and removing the lawfully elected municipal government. Too few Americans know this harrowing and profoundly relevant story — and there’s never been a more urgent time to learn it.
Today we’re wishing a very happy forty-fourth birthday to the wonderful Finnish-Estonian author Sofi Oksanen! This past September, Oksanen spoke at the 2020 Helsinki Ethics Conference, delivering a blistering talk that began with a detailed account of her experiences as a critic of Russia, and moved into a broader critique of electronic disinformation, the indifference that disinformation can breed, and the perils that come with it. Her comments are deeply resonant in light of recent events.
“Manufacturing lies is cheap. Using words is cheap. Shouting down opponents is cheap. Denigrating democratic values is cheap, and technological developments are facilitating the adoption of increasingly inexpensive instruments.” Continue reading…
Happy birthday, Sofi Oksanen!
In 2010, we were delighted to publish Sofi Oksanen’s ferocious novel Purge, in Lola Rogers’s powerful translation from the Finnish. In this footage dating to the release of the book — which unflinchingly addresses legacies of human trafficking, sexual violence, and political occupation — Oksanen answers questions about the nature of oral histories and written accounts, the complexities of Estonian-Soviet history, and much more.
Wednesday, January 6
We’re now in the final countdown to the release of Gabriel Byrne’s remarkable, highly-anticipated memoir, Walking with Ghosts, which we’ll publish this Tuesday, January 12th. In the meantime, enjoy a wonderful, short recording of Byrne reading Raymond Carver’s poem “Late Fragment,” with the distinctive presence and emotional control that have made one of his generation’s most celebrated actors.
Catch Gabriel Byrne on the Virtual Road
This Tuesday, as we publish his memoir at last, Gabriel Byrne will be hitting the road — digitally, at least. Byrne will embarking on a virtual tour: six online events, hosted by some remarkable literary institutions, and featuring a positively remarkable list of interlocutors, including Colm Tóibín, Colum McCann, Roddy Doyle, Wesley Stace, Steven Winn, and Lily King. These events are truly not to be missed… so don’t! Here’s a full schedule:
Gabriel Byrne reads James Joyce
Finally, to round out our morning of Byrne, here he is reading his compatriot James Joyce’s “She Weeps Over Rahoon.” Ah, what a voice!
Tuesday, January 5
Dennis Cooper on some of his favorite films
We love Dennis Cooper — that’s why we publish eight of his books, including all of his acclaimed “George Miles cycle.” In this evening filmed at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater in late 2018, Dennis talks with Film Society of Lincoln Center programming director Dennis Lim about his own work, his nuanced thoughts on cinema, and the crossover between the two.
Viet Thanh Nguyen on the designation of “Minari” as a “foreign language film”
“Minari” is a movie about one family’s pursuit of the American dream. Forthcoming in theatrical release next month, it’s director Lee Isaac Chung’s semi-autobiographical depiction of a boy being raised by his South Korean immigrant parents and grandmother in Arkansas in the 1980s. Late last month, the brilliant Viet Thanh Nguyen — author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Sympathizer and its forthcoming sequel, The Committed — took to the pages of the Washington Post to share his thoughts on the decision of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to categorize the movie, much of which is in Korean, as a “foreign-language film” — meaning that it won’t be in the running for the Golden Globe Award for Best Picture.
“What languages can be considered American? Can anyone who primarily speaks a language other than English be considered American? Like my parents: They came to the United States in 1975 as refugees from Vietnam and became citizens in 1984. It’s true they conducted most of their lives in Vietnamese: All their friends were Vietnamese, they attended Mass in Vietnamese, and they spoke only Vietnamese at home. But they knew enough English to buy property, build businesses and pay taxes. After their second return trip to Vietnam in 1994, my father said, over Thanksgiving, ‘We’re Americans now.’ They never returned to Vietnam after that. After 45 years in the United States, with their still-imperfect English, are they still ‘foreign?’” Continue reading…
January is the perfect time for The Two Faces of January
The month of January is named for the two-faced Roman god Janus, and is also the perfect time to read Patricia Highsmith’s The Two Faces of January, then watch Hossein Amini’s 2014 big-screen adaptation, starring Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, and Oscar Isaac. It’s the story of two American con men who meet in 1960s Athens, and become chillingly entwined in the thread and gossamer of each other’s lives. Here’s a trailer:
Monday, January 4
This past Saturday marked the 72nd birthday of legendary playwright Christopher Durang. Over his distinguished career, Durang has been both author and actor, Obie- and Tony-winner, even occasionally a Brecht-parodying SNL guest. In this interview shot for the Dramatists Guild Foundation, Christopher speaks to Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire from his home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He discusses his family background, the loss of his Catholic faith, the elusive “purpose of the universe,” and much more — all in relation to his beloved and inimitable work as a playwright.
Roxane Gay’s starting a book club!
In case you missed it amid all the holiday frenzy of the past few weeks, some literary frenzy also brought exciting news: as Walker Caplan wrote at Literary Hub late last month, the one and only Roxane Gay is starting the Audacious Book Club! Membership is open to everybody, and the first twelve books — one for each month of 2021 — have already been announced! Call us biased, but we’re especially excited about April’s pick: Dantiel W. Moniz’s incredible debut collection Milk Blood Heat, coming next month!
“Some good news to close out the year! Recently, Roxane Gay announced on Twitter that she’s starting a book club, and anyone can participate.” Continue reading, including the full schedule of Audacious readings…
It’s 2021! One of the books we’re most excited to publish this year is Rickie Lee Jones’s memoir Last Chance Texaco, coming this April. Rickie’s fans already know her remarkable gifts for telling stories and crafting narratives and phrases that strike the heart like a hammer — Last Chance Texaco brings these legendary gifts to bear on Jones’s own story, detailing relationships, struggles, and a singular life in rock with candor and grace. Since we’ve still got a few months to wait for the book — out in April! — here’s Rickie in 1979, appearing with her razor-sharp band on the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test, just a few months after releasing her eponymous, platinum-selling debut album. A great way to kick off the first week of the year.