W.P. Norton

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AWP17 puts literature on the map in D.C.

In Association of Writers & Writing Programs, Literature, W.P. Norton on February 16, 2017 at 6:54 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Still sifting through the trove of literary treasures and takeaways from the nation’s largest annual gathering of the literati, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, hashtag #AWP17.

Herewith a few visual highlights:

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Meeting Viet Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer.

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Only 10 percent of optioned books get made into movies. That’s the consensus of these panelists who number in that exclusive club. From left: Fobbit author David Abrams; Claire Bidwell Smith, one of whose books is being made into a film starring Jennifer Lawrence; and Andre Dubus III, who penned House of Sand and Fog and Dirty Love, among others.

 

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Members of The Anthropoid Literary Collective, a humanesque journal, make me feel welcome on conference Day 1.

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Royko vs. Robinson’s Ribs

In African America, Barbecue, Black America, Black-owned businesses, Charlie Robinson, Chicago history, Mike Royko, Mississippi Delta, Racism, Royko RibFest, The Charlie Robinson Story, W.P. Norton on February 16, 2017 at 2:49 pm

A reflection of an editor in Robinson’s Oak Park storefront.

The excitement of this year’s annual gathering of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (#AWP17) in Washington, DC, took me back to the first book I edited — The Charlie Robinson Story: From the Son of a Mississippi Delta Sharecropper to the Top of the Chicago Barbecue Charts.

Charlie Robinson

OAK PARK, ILLINOIS — Chicago’s Mississippi-born baron of barbecue is sharing his story with the world.

Robinson seared his name into the Chicago annals of African-American history at RibFest 1982, where a centuries-old family barbecue recipe took him to first place over legendary Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko.

In 2012 I finalized the editing of Robinson’s manuscript, The Charlie Robinson Story: From the Son of a Mississippi Delta Sharecropper to the Top of the Chicago Barbecue Charts. The book is now available in limited edition.

The first book written by the Mississippi-born, Oak Park-based restaurateur looks back with surprisingly little anger on life begun in a Mississippi Delta cotton economy that seems little changed since the days of slavery.

Robinson recalls in stark detail the daily indignities of the race-based world that forced him at the age of 12 to address white children no older than him with the words “yes, sir” and “no, sir.”

You can almost feel the hundred-degree heat of Mississippi burning your skin as he describes his first job picking cotton 10 hours a day for thirty cents an hour.

But you can also share the joy of a young man whose skill on the basketball court earns him a scholarship to a Great Plains college where he learns about the world beyond the Mississippi Delta.

No less striking is the pride that shines through Robinson’s retelling of how the black-owned Chicago Defender newspaper urged the descendants of the enslaved to come to Chicago on trains staffed by black porters.

Or the sense of wonder that pours off the page when he tells how his life changed that late September day in 1982 — a moment captured by a Chicago-Sun Times photo showing Royko raise Robinson’s arm in victory as RibFest judge Don Rose and WLS-TV anchorman Tim Weigel look on.

The unforeseeable outcome of the 1982 contest I call “Royko vs. Robinson’s Ribs” is a quintessential Chicago story about a newcomer who rises from obscurity to a seat at the table with room to spare for any flavor strong enough to reach toward the skyline of a city defined by its power to redefine itself.

Ghosts of 1986

In W.P. Norton on February 13, 2016 at 8:02 pm

From US sales of arms to Iran to fund a secret Latin American war and the bombing of Libya to the Challenger and Chernobyl disasters, the ghosts of 1986 haunt us still.

north

NORTH

News broke in November that a Reagan White House aide named Oliver North had cooked up the idea to sell arms to Iran and use the proceeds to fund a CIA-directed secret war against the revolutionary Sandinista government of Nicaragua.

“I thought it was a neat idea,” North said.

ortega

ORTEGA

Then-Sandinista president Daniel Ortega again rules Nicaragua.

 

 

 


 

murdoch

MURDOCH

 

 

 

 

Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch launched Fox Broadcasting Co. on Oct. 8.

Fox now dominates the public conversation and leads ratings markets across the country.


 

goingpostal

SHERILL

 

 

 

Postal employee Patrick Henry Sherrill in effect invented the phrase “going postal.” Although he didn’t coin the phrase while he was alive.

He did it by shooting to death 14 co-workers and wounding six before committing suicide in Edmond, Okla., on Aug. 20.

Mass shootings are now a matter of near-daily occurrence in the US.

 

 


chernobyl

CHERNOBYL

 

 

The Vladimir Ilyich Lenin nuclear plant in the former Soviet Republic of Ukraine killed at least 4,056 people in the Chernobyl disaster of April 26.

The near-meltdown may  ultimately kill 100,000 lives or more, according to estimates.

 


 

libya

GADHAFI

That same month, US planes bombed the Libyan capital and Benghazi region on April 15, killing 15.

Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi has been dead for almost five years.

But the chaos in Libya and the rest of the Arab world is seen today as the cause of Europe’s worst migrant crisis since WWII.


babydoc

DUVALIER

Speaking of evil dictators … Baby Doc Duvalier fled Haiti on Feb. 7, 1986, ending 28 years of family rule, leaving behind an essentially failed state.

Today Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere—an ignominious fate for a former slave nation that was the first in world history to rise up and achieve liberation from its French colonial overlords.


challenger

USS CHALLENGER

The Challenger space shuttle exploded 73 seconds after launch, killing seven astronauts on January 28.

Since 2011, no US space shuttle has left the ground.

Indeed, the US has largely outsourced a space program that put the first man on the Moon. To whom? Our former Space Race adversaries the Russians, and to Silicon Valley billionaires.

 

AS SEEN IN … The Economist | The New Yorker | Isthmus

In Anthony Shadid, W.P. Norton, Wisconsin Events on October 4, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Oct. 4, 2012

Isthmus
“Eyewitness to history: Democrats shut down the Wisconsin Senate”

Feb. 18, 2011
“[W]hile the Democrats’ disappearing act is a bold gambit, it is not without precedent: Republican lawmakers hid themselves in the town of Madison, Indiana to deprive that state’s Democratic-controlled General Assembly of a quorum in 1862. Republican Governor Oliver P. Morton feared the Democrats would vote to take away his control of the state militia, which would have weakened his power to direct Indiana manpower and money support the Union’s war against the Confederacy. The parallel is one of desperate times and desperate measures; I just hope the unrest in Madison turns out to be more of a civil conflict and less of a war.” | W.P.Norton

The Economist

“WISCONSIN EVENTS: ‘NO SOUTHERN-FRIED BADGERS'”

March 11, 2011
“[M]any natives of the Badger state, including transplants like me, don’t want to see Wisconsin brought in line with the Mountain states, thank you. Even worse is the thought of seeing Wisconsin whittled down into anything like the shape of the Southern states, where living standards in many indices are manifestly worse and the culture altogether grimmer in many respects.Such prospects may sit well with Gov. Scott Walker, an evangelical Christian conservative born in bible-belt capital Colorado Springs, Colorado. As for Wisconsin voters freshly galvanized by the audacity of a chief executive who today marks a mere 68 days in office — not so much.” | W.P.Norton

The New Yorker
“LYNSEY ADDARIO, BEYOND LIBYA”

March 23, 2011
“Anthony Shadid is without peer as an interpreter of the Islamic world. I rely on his wisdom, revel in the poetry of his writing, and want him safe for years to come because he makes me smarter. Since the Libya nightmare, he’s been quoted as saying that he’ll be covering no more wars, and I plan to hold him to that. But Addario has been flatly insistent that she’ll go on covering combat zones, though, and I find myself strangely glad to hear it. I’ll wager that her best work is ahead of her.” | W.P. Norton

Royko vs. Robinson’s Ribs

In Black America, Black-owned businesses, Charlie Robinson, Chicago history, Racism, W.P. Norton on May 18, 2012 at 2:15 pm

A reflection of an editor in Robinson’s Oak Park storefront.

The excitement of this year’s annual gathering of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (#AWP17) in Washington, DC, took me back to the first book I edited — The Charlie Robinson Story: From the Son of a Mississippi Delta Sharecropper to the Top of the Chicago Barbecue Charts.

Charlie Robinson

OAK PARK, ILLINOIS — Chicago’s Mississippi-born baron of barbecue is sharing his story with the world.

Robinson seared his name into the Chicago annals of African-American history at RibFest 1982, where a centuries-old family barbecue recipe took him to first place over legendary Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko.

In 2012 I finalized the editing of Robinson’s manuscript, The Charlie Robinson Story: From the Son of a Mississippi Delta Sharecropper to the Top of the Chicago Barbecue Charts. The book is now available in limited edition.

The first book written by the Mississippi-born, Oak Park-based restaurateur looks back with surprisingly little anger on life begun in a Mississippi Delta cotton economy that seems little changed since the days of slavery.

Robinson recalls in stark detail the daily indignities of the race-based world that forced him at the age of 12 to address white children no older than him with the words “yes, sir” and “no, sir.”

You can almost feel the hundred-degree heat of Mississippi burning your skin as he describes his first job picking cotton 10 hours a day for thirty cents an hour.

But you can also share the joy of a young man whose skill on the basketball court earns him a scholarship to a Great Plains college where he learns about the world beyond the Mississippi Delta.

No less striking is the pride that shines through Robinson’s retelling of how the black-owned Chicago Defender newspaper urged the descendants of the enslaved to come to Chicago on trains staffed by black porters.

Or the sense of wonder that pours off the page when he tells how his life changed that late September day in 1982 — a moment captured by a Chicago-Sun Times photo showing Royko raise Robinson’s arm in victory as RibFest judge Don Rose and WLS-TV anchorman Tim Weigel look on.

The unforeseeable outcome of the 1982 contest I call “Royko vs. Robinson’s Ribs” is a quintessential Chicago story about a newcomer who rises from obscurity to a seat at the table with room to spare for any flavor strong enough to reach toward the skyline of a city defined by its power to redefine itself.

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