Excited about Literature: Katie from Lit Crawl NYC

February 19, 2013

The Golden Era of Literary Cheekiness by Katie Wudel

Some (idiots) out there are saying ludicrous things: Literature’s on its last legs, they declare. Thanks to the Interwebz, our attention spans are now invisible to the naked eye. Do not listen! We of Lit Crawl NYC are certain – whether by touchscreen or hand-inked artisanal scroll – that you’re reading more words a day than ever before. There’s plenty to celebrate about literature these days. (After all, Out of Print Clothing exists)

As a bunch of bookish boozers, we’re especially partial to a hearty burst of nerdy rebellion, and friends, this is the Golden Era of Literary Cheekiness. We’d be pleased to give you a tour.

Bookish Rogues

Don’t miss Literary Rogues: A Scandalous History of Wayward Authors, Andrew Schaffer’s hot-off-the-presses rundown of the polarizing imps who’ve blazed a righteous path for modern mischief makers like us. From the obvious (Hunter S. Thompson, natch) to the splendidly sly (Dorothy Parker!), Schaffer schools us in the art of scholarly rebellion. It’s time to give inspired rascals like Lord Byron their debauched due. He “drank wine out of a human skull, fired pistols indoors, spent his inheritance foolishly, and traveled the globe in search of adventure. Only one thing seemed to calm his wanderlust: ‘I find an interesting book the only sedative.’”

Right on, dude.

Rosie Schaap, ‘Drink’ columnist for New York Times Magazine, carries the torch of literary rakishness today in her unapologetic celebration of a life lived in bars, Drinking with Men. This new memoir reveals how Rosie – as a writer, reader, and bartender – finds real comfort in the jukebox, the cacophony of voices and clattering drinkware, the solace of a well-mixed libation accompanied by a (slightly slurred) tall tale. We love a hard-drinking woman who more than holds her own in what has been for too long a boys’ club. We love her delightful prose even more.

Looking for the perfect pint to sip while you’re out boozing with the boys? We suggest the just-released White Whale Ale – a nod, of course, to Moby-Dick. This tasty collaboration between the outstanding craft brewers at Rogue Ales and one of our all-time favorite bookstores, Portland’s Powells, is a special edition brew just for bookish scamps like us.

Altered States: Book Arts

So, we revere the book itself, obvs. The smell of a new one. The delicious weight of a solid hardcover. Oh, and isn’t it sweet when they do that ragged edges thing with the pages? But some clever folks are bending (and breaking) the boundaries of the ol’ two-covers-plus-pages object we all grew up with.

Betsy Davids’s book of dreams is a foldable and unfoldable set of three-dimensional box-like pages, hiding, and then revealing dream imagery and text. Is this really a book? Can you call what you do with this reading? Is there a first page or a last?

(image via Real Meaning of Dreams)

Dude. Does it matter? Look how awesome that thing is. Then there are the altered books. Written over, ripped up, crumpled:

(image courtesy: Brian Dettmer, Amerigo, 2007 and Toomey Tourell Fine Art)

Okay, sure, we’re so dorky that we’ve been known to cringe at making notes in the margins of our most treasured volumes. But what a way to breathe new life into a forgotten text!

Oh, and hey, intrepid book artists using gin as ink? We approve!

Lest you think this art form being killed dead by e-readers and/or the World Wide Web, please visit the totally awesome Tumblr F*ck Yeah, Book Arts! It’s better than Facebook, we swear.

Reading 2.0

Speaking of Tumblr, we think it’s probably true that 97.4% of the Internet right now is composed of literary Tumblrs. Don’t miss Book and Beer, F*ck Yeah Manuscripts, and of course, Lit Crawl NYC. And what about bookish blogs? (Particularly close to our New York hearts is the absorbing Underground New York Public Library, catching readers in the act. Naughty!) With Goodreads, Shelfari, and the brand-spanking new (not to mention, darn charming) Bookish, we think the Internet is making it fun, social, and convenient to find and share what’s so amazing about literature. Hey, you’re reading about literature on a blog right now, aren’t you? Perhaps your AP Lit teacher would turn his nose down at Proustitute, but we say that reading is cooler than it’s ever been. Book nerdz, now is your time. Rejoice!

Join Us, Scoundrels

Hey, if you’re in NYC (or going to be), please stir up some book-related trouble with us. Visit our website to find out about all the literary cheekiness happening on May 18 when we crawl the best pubs of Brooklyn while listening to readings and playing literary trivia. It’s happening again in September on the Lower East Side. And if you’re somehow into literature but don’t reside in the Big Apple (we hear rumors that you’re out there), check out the Lit Crawls happening in Austin, San Francisco, or Seattle.

  • http://bookandbeer.tumblr.com Jason

    Thank you for the recommendation!

    Book and Beer

  • http://smallpressures.blogspot.com Angie Kritenbrink

    For me, ebooks are for everyday reading and I only buy physical books now when there is a design element or “book arts” ish nature to them. Cookbooks, art books, collector books, etc. I’m hoping that’s a trend for a lot of people and leads to more interest in book-arty book design. I moved apartments last summer and got rid of hundreds of books that were just blah looking and kept the ones that either meant a lot to me or were nice looking.