• Remembrance of James A. Mitchell

    August 26, 2016

    Jim Mitchell, who died last Saturday of an apparent heart attack, really connected with people, and as his publisher and friend I was graced by his great ability to express goodwill through friendship on many occasions, and in many different ways. The proposal for the book he wrote for Seven Stories, The Walrus and the Elephants: John Lennon’s Years of Revolution, arrived in the mail unagented and was read by an intern who became so enamored of the project and of Jim’s writing that she fought hard for it and won over the entire editorial department at Seven Stories. We were all kind of taken aback at first that an unsolicited proposal had been acquired, except for Jim himself, who wasn’t surprised at all.

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    James A. Mitchell

    As Jim’s editor, I asked a lot of him and the finished manuscript when it came in then went through four or five substantial re-writes.

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  • In Memory of Our Friend Don Farber

    August 1, 2016

    Farber

    Don Farber’s bow tie intimidated me the first time I met him, probably in the late ’80s or early ’90s. Once I got past the bow tie I discovered a great human being, possibly one of the single greatest human beings to grace this earth. He wrote one of the essential textbooks on media law and intellectual property, and yet when negotiating for his most important client Kurt Vonnegut or any other client, he never went by the book, always guided by the sure North Star of his heart. Which is why so many of the seeds he planted or tended grew into strong trees and bore fruit, including our own Seven Stories. He believed in people and in art—in that order. People first. At his 90th birthday a few years back he told many jokes, mostly about himself and his own eccentric behavior. The implicit and I’m sure unintended message was that eccentric behavior will work out beautifully when it starts from the right place.

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  • Chekhov’s Corpse and the Case of the Refrigerated Oysters

    July 15, 2016

    One hundred and twelve years ago today, Anton Chekhov drank his last glass of champagne.

    His wife would describe the scene years later in her journal: “Anton sat up unusually straight and said loudly and clearly (although he knew almost no German): Ich sterbe (‘I’m dying’). The doctor calmed him, took a syringe, gave him an injection of camphor, and ordered champagne. Anton took a full glass, examined it, smiled at me and said: ‘It’s a long time since I drank champagne.’ He drained it and lay quietly on his left side, and I just had time to run to him and lean across the bed to call to him, but he had stopped breathing and was sleeping peacefully as a child….”

    LittleApplesChekhov passed away in Badenweiler, a small German town near the Black Forest. His body was taken back to Russia by freight train, and somehow ended up in a refrigerated car meant for oysters.

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  • Musing Among the Orchids

    July 5, 2016

    Inspired by a political climate that its editors called “stranger than fiction,” the New York Times Book Review has commissioned its first ever short story: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Arrangements.”

    Adichie

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    In an article introducing the piece, John Williams of the Times explains that the Book Review “decided to turn to fiction to see how it might illuminate today’s befuddling political climate.” Befuddling, certainly, but at least this befuddlement has resulted in a piquant artistic contribution.

    A modern spin on Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, “The Arrangements” replaces the genteel figure of Clarissa Dalloway with a different kind of hostess—Melania Trump. Adichie explains in an interview that she was intrigued by Ivanka Trump, who “seems to me too thoughtful and too intelligent to truly believe that her father’s erratic, ungrounded policy positions would genuinely be good for the United States. And so I imagined her as a kind of unknowable character, and I needed a foil of sorts for her, which is how Melania Trump became the center of the story.” As for the relationship between politics and literature, Adichie says, “[f]iction can remind us—and because of the blood-sport nature of politics, we constantly need reminding—that the players in politics are first human beings.” And “The Arrangements,” told in a stream-of-consciousness style from Melania’s perspective, does just that.

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  • Halting the Clinton Dynasty; or, Thunderdome 2016

    June 30, 2016

    MyTurn

    “People should and do trust me.”—Hillary Clinton

    The marathon that is the presidential political campaign is coming to an end, and things are getting real uncomfortable. Information and insults are being thrown from every direction and it’s difficult to know what sources to trust to provide the truth on who the political candidates are and what they stand for.

    Well, if you enjoyed Ted Rall’s Bernie and Snowden graphic biographies (psst he’s got a new one coming out soon), or believe anything Noam Chomsky has written, or are interested in preventing a real life version of The Hunger Games, you should seriously read Doug Henwood’s My Turn.

    Henwood’s new book is concise, fact-based, and meant to get people talking; it is not about Bernie Sanders, not about Donald Trump, and not about misogynistic rants. Instead, Henwood goes point by point through Hillary’s personal and political history to illustrate how she is not the candidate she claims to be.

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  • The College Musings of Kurt Vonnegut

    June 22, 2016

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    “Well all right.”

    It doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as “So it goes,” but the pointed understatement and faux-cheerful stoicism are already in place. As is the skeptical attitude toward the glories of mass slaughter. We at Seven Stories hereby present to you the “Well All Right,” the college musings of Kurt Vonnegut.

    In the Cornell Daily Sun article linked above, a twenty-year-old Vonnegut eerily prefigures the subject matter of his later novels. “Cheers for the Army, the Navy . . . the WAAC’s, the WAAVs,” Vonnegut writes, mocking the gung-ho attitude of the university’s war recruiters and the nation at large, “to hell with the slackers in college.” Decrying the revolving door between war recruiters and the university, he seeks to remind his fellow students that there’s no shame in putting aside war for a moment and getting an education. Aside from attending classes, Vonnegut writes, “what we do is justly our own damned business!”

    Yet in three month’s time the author himself had left Cornell for the Army.

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  • Ecoreading on sale for Earth Day!

    April 22, 2016

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    It’s Earth Day!  Earth Day XLVI, to be exact, and observers all over are largely focusing on the US and China, two of the world’s biggest contributors to climate change, which have agreed to mark the day by formally signing the Paris Agreement, a binding resolution on curbing ecological destruction that has been joined by 120 countries.

    At Seven Stories, we’re marking the occasion by offering 50% off all our titles related to climate change and ecological activism, including Subhankar Banerjee‘s Arctic Voices, a stunning collection of first-hand accounts from the front lines of the war to protect our frozen north; Noam Chomsky and Laray Polk‘s Nuclear War and Environmental Catastrophe, a book of stark warning aboutthe twin dangers of too much and too little action; Tom Athanasiou and Paul Baer‘s Dead Heat, a polemic that connects hand-wringing over climate to bigger issues of justice along lines of ferocious clarity; and, of course, our suite of books by the uncompromising Derrick Jensen, the poet-philosopher of the ecological movement whose books, many and pathbreaking, include DreamsWhat We Leave Behind, and many more, including, with comic artist Stephanie McMillan, the surprisingly merry As the World Burns: Fifty Simple Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial.

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  • PEN World Voices!

    April 19, 2016

    Every spring, New York City enjoys the intercultural literary splendor of the World Voices Festival, produced by PEN America! This year, Seven Stories Press is pleased to have three authors participating: Abdellah Taïa, Guadalupe Nettel, and Linh Dinh. For a complete schedule of this year’s festival, please visit the PEN website. Below is a listing of all WV events featuring Seven Stories authors!

    Wednesday, April 27th 6.30pm $40
    Literary Quest: Tenement Museum Edition
    at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum
    (103 Orchard Street, 10002)
    Featuring: Rashidah Ismaili, Eisa Davis, Richard Price, Colm Tóibín, Olga Tokarczuk, Sunjeev Sahota, Veronica Gonzalez Peña, and Guadalupe Nettel
     
    7S-Taia_comps_C-6_largeThursday, April 28th, 6pm Free
    Translating Activism: Ayotzinapa and Beyond
    at Dixon Place
    (161A Chrystie Street, 10002)
    Featuring: Cristina Rivera-Garza and Linh Dinh
     
    Thursday, April 28th 6.30pm $20
    Literary Quest: Westbeth Edition
    at the Westbeth Center for the Arts
    (55 Bethune Street, 10014)
    Featuring: Dalia Betolin-Sherman, Lorea Canales, Álvaro Enrigue, Saleem Haddad, Yuri Herrera, Andreï Makine, Karim Miské, Mark Nowak, Alexandre Vidal Porto, Susanna Reich, Fatima Shaik, Burhan Sönmez, Juan Villoro, Jorge Volpi, Klaus Wivel, and Abdellah Taïa
     
    Thursday, April 28th 8pm $15
    Women of Mexico
    at Dixon Place
    (161A Chrystie Street, 10002)
    Featuring: Carmen Boullosa, Valeria Luiselli, Cristina Rivera-Garza, and Guadalupe Nettel
     
    Friday, April 29th 6.30pm $12
    Translation Slam
    at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe
    (236 East Third Street, 10009)
    Featuring: Margaret Carson, Chris Clarke, Luis Felipe Fabre, Ezra Fitz, Michael F.

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  • An interview with Barbara Williams

    April 1, 2016

    We sent some interview questions to Barbara Williams, whose new memoir of life in the logging communities of Western Canada, The Hope in Leaving, we recently published to early acclaim. Besides an author, Williams is a successful actress and accomplished musician. Spend a minute here — this is a terrific read.

    Why did you decide to write The Hope in Leaving now, so many years after the events it describes took place?

    It took many years and much distance to achieve a perspective on those events, to be able to distill them into art. I’ve always been journaling but acting was my primary creative focus. After my son was born I wanted to be present for his childhood. Other actresses can manage raising kids and working on location but I opted to stay close to home and write. My book was released on the eve of my son’s 16th birthday.

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  • Guest post by Daniella Gitlin, translator of OPERATION MASSACRE

    March 24, 2016

    In an opinion piece published yesterday by the New York Times under the title “What Obama Should Know About Macri’s Argentina,” scholar Ernesto Semán and legal expert Gastón Chiller (of the Center for Legal and Social Studies in Buenos Aires) give a forceful account of the ways in which newly elected Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s administration recalls some of the most horrid periods in the country’s history. They begin with the case of activist Milagro Sala, arrested two months ago for organizing a protest of cooperative workers in the interior of the country, and continue to list other traces of repression — sometimes verging on fascism — in Macri’s excessive use of executive orders, his neglect of human rights abuses, and his decisions to prioritize free trade over domestic growth, profit over people. This account of a repression that comes about gradually and insidiously is all too reminiscent of an open letter signed thirty-nine years ago today by Argentine citizen, writer, and activist Rodolfo Walsh, just a day before he was gunned down in the street and disappeared by henchmen of the de facto regime, his body never found.

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