Taken from a reading for Ploughshares in October 2010. You can purchase “Poland is Watching” on your Kindle by clicking here.
(From ASU’s website)
Nov. 4, 2010
1:30 p.m., 7:45 p.m.
Jim Shepard, a novelist and short-story writer who is known for his darkly humorous tales and work that explores the pain of male adolescence, will discuss his work during a Public Craft Q&A at 1:30 p.m., Nov. 4 at the Piper Writers House on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus.
Shepard then will read and sign books at 7:45 p.m., also on Nov. 4, in Recital Hall in the Music Building on the Tempe campus. Both events are free.
This sounds like a fun evening!
Chosen by New York Magazine, The Village Voice and NY Press as the best reading series in NYC, and singled out by the New York Times Magazine for helping to “keep downtown, NY alive,” The Happy Ending Series features a unique format. Readers are required to take one public risk. The musicians who play short sets interspersed with the reading, are required to play one cover song and try to get the audience to sing along. MASS MoCA transports this recipe for mischief north for a special Halloween edition featuring indie singer-songwriter Kristin Hersh, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Paul Harding, and local author Jim Shepard.
Here are the details:
Saturday, October 30, 2010, 8:00 pm
$12 in advance / $16 day of / $10 students / 10% members discount
87 Marshall Street
North Adams, MA 01247
For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.
Jim Shepard is the guest editor of the supurb literary journal, Ploughshares. And Jim will be reading on October 12th at the Paramount Theater – and all Bostonians should come! Here’s the complete info:
Jim Shepard Reading, hosted by Ploughshares
Author(s): Jim Shepard
Date: Oct 12, 2010
Time: 6:00 pm
Location: The Paramount Theater
Address: 555 Washington St., Boston, MA 02115
Ploughshares and Emerson College invite you to the Ploughshares Reading Series featuring celebrated author Jim Shepard, guest editor of the Fall 2010 issue of Ploughshares. Shepard will host a reading of his work at 6 p.m.
Jim Shepard is the author of six novels and two short story collections. He was recently nominated for the National Book Award for his latest collection of short stories, Like You’d Understand Anyway, about which the New York Times Book Review said, “To praise Shepard’s mastery of voice is to undersell what these stories are doing; it isn’t the voice Shepard inhabits but the world. . . . Shepard is an impressive writer, but I wasn’t impressed until I finished the book: I was too busy being enthralled.” Shepard is also a frequent contributor to The Believer and the New York Times Book Review, he teaches at Williams College.
Shepard promises to be a compelling speaker, given his “…instinct to ferret out and further discuss the unexpected strangeness wherever it surfaced in my work.”
The reading will be held in the Paramount Theater, 555 Washington St., Boston , MA 02115. The nearest subway stops are Downtown Crossing (Red and Orange Lines) and Boylston (Green Line). Parking is available at the Boston Common Garage on Charles Street between Boylston and Beacon Streets.
Ploughshares was founded in 1971 by DeWitt Henry and Peter O’Malley and has been based at Emerson College since 1989. Published three times a year, each issue is guest-edited by a prominent writer, most recently Tony Hoagland and Elizabeth Strout. Upcoming editors include Terrance Hayes, Colm Tóibín, and DeWitt Henry. To subscribe to Ploughshares, please visit our website, http://pshares.org/. The Fall 2010 issue was released in August 2010.
Looking for a new magazine to read? Check out Vice Magazine, which features Jim as a guest editor in its latest issue. The theme of the issue? Catastrophes. Here’s a little bit by Jim from his “Letter from the Guest Editor:”
WELCOME TO THE CATASTROPHES ISSUE
You can make a pretty good argument that if you’re an apocalyptic you’re both fucked up and plugged into the zeitgeist. I was an apocalyptic kind of guy before I even understood what the word meant—some of my earliest obsessive interests involved books like All About Volcanoes and All About Earthquakes and movies like A Night to Remember—but that was in the early 60s, and as we all know from our radically abridged cultural histories, the shit didn’t hit the fan, in American terms, until the late 60s. So when I’m feeling good about myself, I can pretend I saw it all coming—I still take secret pride in the precocity of my childhood conviction, in the face of everything I read, that a catastrophic event of some sort had ended the Cretaceous—but when I’m being more honest, I have to ask myself some version of the question my long-suffering wife once asked me: What kind of person takes a history of the guillotine to the beach?
Well, the good news for people like me and the bad news for the rest of the world is that things are getting so fucked up that a worldview that sees disaster around every corner is starting to look a lot like a measured and sober understanding of the facts. Pick your poison—land, sea, or air—and try to think of an arena in which we don’t seem to be accelerating toward some pretty bad news. Accelerating because of our nature as human beings, which is to say in individual terms, the bad decisions we make each and every day, and in collective terms, our decision to have handed over our fate to global capital.
What to do about climate change? The toxification of our food? The death of our oceans? These are all decisions we’ve turned over to ExxonMobil, Monsanto, and BP. And those companies have become as powerful as they are by having figured out how to game the system. Regulatory agencies, national and international, are now controlled by the very companies they’re supposed to be scrutinizing. And each industry, in pursuit of ever-greater profits, has installed as its primary value its definition of greater efficiency, which means ever-narrowing options and greater precariousness. So that now instead of thousands of local slaughterhouses, America has 13 megaplants, the perfect recipe for collecting lethal pathogens and spreading them far and wide. Now instead of shallow offshore drilling, our oil companies are drilling six miles down in water two miles deep, which means the chances of anything going wrong, then going catastrophically wrong, increase geometrically.
And the one agenda on which all of these corporations agree is that of doing away with what used to be known, quaintly, as the public’s right to know: They’ve come to understand that the kind of master-of-the-universe success they’re envisioning is as much about the control of information as it is control of the market. And that’s a nonpartisan agenda, worldwide. In the US, the progressive Obama administration—and you can supply your own air quotes around progressive—has been timid and tentative about everything but going after whistleblowers.
As more and more is systematically hidden from us, there’s less and less chance that we—or anyone—will be able to intervene in time to prevent disasters. If a crucial step involved in growing older is understood to be the recognition that loss is the seminar in which we’re all going to be enrolled, the collective version of that understanding in the 21st century might be that catastrophe is the seminar in which we’re all going to be enrolled. We have a lot of Deepwater Horizons ahead of us.
JIM SHEPARD, Guest Editor
The new issue is available now. Learn more about Vice Magazine here.
Jim Shepard will be teaching at Sirenland Writer’s Conference, taking place in March 2011 in Positano, Italy. For a lucky group of writers, this will be their chance to study under one of the finest teachers of fiction in the country.
For all those writers out there who want to spend a week with Jim, Dani Shapiro, and Peter Cameron, now is your chance. Application time is upon us and you have until the end of October to send it in.
For more information about Sirenland – and to apply – visit the Sirenland website.
Here’s a great article about Jim Shepard and the Berkshire Wordfest:
Jim Shepard, a professor of writing and film at Williams College, often tells his students that one of the ways you can tell you might be a writer “is if you have to write in order to feel good about yourself, although writing almost never makes you feel good about yourself.”
Shepard should know: He is the author of six novels and two collections of short stories, and his widely anthologized stories have been included in editions of “The Best American Short Stories” in 1994, 2002 and 2006. Shepard also has a number of distinguished literary awards to his name, including the Pushcart Prize, the Library of Congress/Massachusetts Book Award in Fiction and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Award.
Because of his numerous accolades and contributions to the literary world and his connection to the Berkshires, Shepard is one of the many accomplished writers that came to Audrey Manring’s mind when planning the list of distinguished literary speakers for the inaugural Berkshire WordFest at Edith Wharton’s The Mount in Lenox, set for July 23-25.
“Jim Shepard up in Williamstown is one of the finest short story writers working today,” Manring, the 2010 Berkshire WordFest director, said of the local writer.
Shepard will join nearly 20 nationally acclaimed contemporary writers in celebrating the written word at the inaugural festival at the former home of one of America’s most highly esteemed female writers, Edith Wharton. Many of those writers reside in the Berkshires and its surrounding areas.
Jim Shepard reads a selection from his new story “Boys Town” at the New York State Summer Writers Institute, Skidmore College, June 29th, 2010. It’s a wonderful, short little clip. “Here’s the story of my life. Whatever I did wasn’t good enough, anything I figured out, I figured out too late. And whenever I tried to help I made things worse….”
Come visit western Massachusetts this July for the inaugural Berkshire Wordfest, taking place at Edith Wharton’s summer home, The Mount. According to the website: “Berkshire WordFest is a celebration of words and ideas in one of the most beautiful settings in the Berkshires. Organized by The Mount, Edith Wharton’s historic home and gardens, WordFest brings together acclaimed writers and passionate readers for talks, readings, conversations, and discovery. Berkshire WordFest is a festival of contemporary writers in the timeless spirit of Edith Wharton and the many other authors who have made the Berkshires their home.”
This literary festival takes place July 23-25, and brings together acclaimed authors such as Susan Orlean, Francine Prose, Dani Shapiro, Simon Winchester, and poet Lawrence Raab. On July 24th, from 2-3 pm, Jim will be interviewed by WAMC’s Joe Donahue. Here are the details:
Humor, thrills, virtuosic writing: genre-bending novelist Jim Shepard (Like You’d Understand, Anyway) delivers! Shepard joins Joe Donahue, host of WAMC’s The Roundtable and The Book Show, for conversation about deep books on dark subjects and the art of writing the teenage mind. Booksigning follows. Tickets are $25; $20 for Mount members.
We can’t think of a more beautiful place to spend some time with a truly wonderful group of writers. To learn more about the event and to purchase tickets, please visit the Berkshire Wordfest website.