Harriet Hyman Alonso, author of Martha and the Slave Catchers, a book for middle school readers, speaks with Catherine A. Franklin an education professor who created the Martha and the Slave Catchers curriculum guide. They discuss some of the aspects of Martha and the Slave Catchers that relate to history and teaching, William Llyod Garrison's unruly but ethical children, and some questions for today, including: "Who are the modern abolitionists?" and "How do we resist unfair laws?"
If the Cultural Purity Police (CPP) had their way, they would brand British curry as theft, but every cuisine consists of an infinite number of borrowings and travels, sometimes stretching back millennia. . . . The idea of cultural purity now determines what representations we might safely consume without guilt. . . . [T]he loss is ours, doomed as we are to sterile images that question and probe nothing, offering only vast oceans of purity . . . .
A thoughtful piece called "Think Before You Link" appeared in Publishers Weekly last week, urging web outlets promoting books not to link to Amazon. It's a great read, and it's definitely something we're conscious of here at Seven Stories. And while the publishing world has become an increasingly complicated landscape, with some publishers selling direct from their own sites, as we do, there's nothing complicated about the fact that we love independent bookstores, and know that they're a vital part of what makes the literary community great. So here's to Powell's, IndieBound, McNally Jackson, Westsider Books, Argosy, Mercer Street, Brazos Bookstore, and the countless other places you can buy books online or in person that aren't soul-crushing corporate monopolies. We salute you, we link to you, and we thank you for continuing to do what you do.
Excerpted from Paul Auster's A Life in Words: Conversations with I. B. Siegumfeldt, available for purchase from our site at 25% off list price.
In the conversation below, acclaimed novelist Paul Auster and scholar I. B. Siegumfeldt discuss Auster's "Portrait of an Invisible Man," which comprises one half of The Invention of Solitude and served as the pivotal piece of writing for Auster's movement into a style wholly his own. Auster discusses the hazards of literary education ("I’d come to such a point of self-consciousness that I somehow believed that every novel had to be completely worked out in advance"); the death of his father ("My father came from the generation of men who wore neckties, and apparently he kept every tie he ever owned. When he died, there must have been a hundred of them in his closet. You are confronted by these ties, which are, in a sense, a miniature history of his life."); and the vitality of the unconscious ("I understood that everything comes from within and moves out. It’s never the reverse. Form doesn’t precede content. The material itself will find its own form as you’re working through it."). We hope you enjoy!