Ithaca Blog

Monday, September 16, 2013

Author Lydia Davis At Ithaca College

Damon Runyon, author of the taut "Guys And Dolls" tales of old Broadway, used to say, "No one can tell me anything about keeping 'em short." Well, Lydia Davis can. Some of her stories are mere pages, some a few paragraphs, some just a few sentences.

Of course, Runyon wrote for manna, while Davis writes for mind. Her work has been cited for its psychological and philosophical weight. Some critics call it more poetry than prose. Some say she has invented a new form altogether.

Ms. Davis won the Man Booker International Prize (a new challenger to the Nobel Prize) this year for her body of work. In 2003 she won a MacArthur Fellowship (the so-called "genius" award).

Ms. Davis will speak at Ithaca College for its Distinguished Visiting Writers Series on Thursday 19 September at 6 pm at Handwerker Gallery.

We wrote back and forth with Ms. Davis this week for an interview for the Ithaca Times. We can report that she is a friendly and generous correspondent. The interview will appear this Wednesday in the Times' print version, and at

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mortification In Print

We write book reviews occasionally for the local weekly paper. It pays almost as much as minimum wage, if you sell your free copy of the book (we haven't yet), but gratification is supposed to be the real remuneration.

It is, sometimes, but sometimes it's mortification, when editing errors turn your perfectly serviceable copy into something a conscientious eighth-grader wouldn't sign. That happened to us this week in the Ithaca Times.

We know a lot of people in town and like to be thought of as normal in intelligence, rather than a moose-head moron, so here is our actual lead for a review of "Among The Bloodpeople" by Thomas Glave.

"Thomas Glave mixes intellect, passion, and daring in his new collection of essays, 'Among The Bloodpeople.'

"Mr. Glave has been a Visiting Professor at MIT and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge. This is his fourth book. He will give a reading at Buffalo Street Books at 6 pm on Wednesday, September 25."

Not so complicated, right?

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Ricky Jay At Cornell Cinema, 24 September

Ricky Jay is the greatest playing card magician in the world, probably in history, and he will appear at Cornell Cinema on Tuesday 24 September for the showing of a movie about him, "Deceptive Practices."

Mr. Jay lived in this area in the 1960's, rumor has it, and spent hours practicing shuffles at the bar at the Rongonvian Embassy, although in following his career over many decades, we have never heard him talk about this chapter of his life. We are a little surprised he is scheduled to be here.

We are also surprised the show is not already sold out (we got our tickets), and will be shocked if it is not sold out at least somewhat in advance. Every few years, Jay performs a limited run show in a small theater on Broadway, and tickets are impossible to get for anyone less illustrious than, say, Jay-Z. Of course, the appearance at Cornell is not a show, and might be no more than a few spoken words, but Mr. Jay is a great story-teller and historian of both show business and the con. Chances are, brief appearance or not, at some point Mr. Jay, showman that he is, will produce a deck of cards and ask someone to pick one, any one.