Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Story Lately Told by Anjelica Huston (and Other Books by Hustons)

The Committee Room turns its attention to Anjelica Huston's recently published autobiography, A Story Lately Told. The Oscar-winning actress offers up a briskly paced, impressionistic account of her action-packed first twenty-one years. A second volume, tentatively titled Watch Me, covering her acting career and highly publicized, long-term romance with actor Jack Nicholson, is due to be published later this year.

Huston's most notable films include screen versions of the novels The Witches by Roald Dahl, Prizzi's Honor by Richard Condon, and The Grifters by Jim Thompson.

"Unlike many celebrity memoirs, Anjelica Huston's is worth reading," says book reviewer Lewis Jones of The Spectator. "Her story is an interesting one, and is generally well written, sometimes even beautifully so."

Anjelica Huston, the daughter of the legendary film director John Huston, was born in Los Angeles in 1951 while her father, then in his mid-forties and at the top of his game career-wise, was in the Congo making his famous screen version of C.S. Forester's novel The African Queen.

John and Anjelica Huston, 1976
(photo: Rex Features).
Though born in California, Anjelica spent her childhood far from Hollywood on a vast estate called St. Cleran's in the rural west of Ireland. Her father, for whom the term "big personality" might have been coined, played out a country squire fantasy.

Young Anjelica attends a local village school run by nuns (though her family is atheist), roams the green fields of St. Cleran's with the children of the servants (her only playmates) and becomes an excellent horsewoman. As soon as she is old enough she fox hunts, sometimes sidesaddle, with the local gentry. "There was nothing so close to the feeling of flying as being on a good Irish hunter when the hounds picked up a scent," Anjelica writes. Her eccentric brother Tony takes up falconry. Her beautiful young mother, the former ballerina Enrica "Ricki" Soma, the fourth of John Huston's five wives, endlessly arranges renovations to the ramshackle estate and entertains the numerous visitors, many of them writers, who the usually absent John Huston brings home with him.

Monday, March 17, 2014

TCR Story of the Month for March: "Stereograms" by Jen Julian

Author Jen Julian
The Committee Room is especially proud to present "Stereograms" by Jen Julian as TCR Story of the Month for March. In this chilling and powerful story written in the Southern Gothic tradition, a young widow employed at a North Carolina mental institution is haunted by ghosts both literal and figurative.

Jen Julian is from Goldsboro, North Carolina. She received her MFA in Fiction from UNC-Greensboro and is currently an English PhD candidate at the University of Missouri, Columbia. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Press 53’s 2010 and 2013 Open Awards Anthologies, Four Way Review, Toasted Cheese, and an up-and-coming issue of The North Carolina Literary Review Online. She is winner of the University of Missouri's 2013 Margery McKinney Award for Fiction and was a finalist for North Carolina State University's 2009 Brenda L. Smart Fiction Prize.

"Stereograms" was published in New Delta Review and won New Delta Review's 2013 Matt Clark Fiction Prize.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Seven American Deaths and Disasters (An Interview with Poet Kenneth Goldsmith)

Seven American Deaths
and Disasters
In Seven American Deaths and Disasters, conceptual poet Kenneth Goldsmith offers transcriptions of genuine, as-it-happened radio and television news coverage of seminal events in recent American history: the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, the murder of John Lennon, the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the death of "king of pop" Michael Jackson. Additionally, there is a chilling text taken from an FBI file of an emergency call made by a teacher cowering with her students in the Columbine High School library as prowling gunmen approach the library doors.

Goldsmith is a proponent of "uncreative writing" that retextualizes, reframes, and recycles existing material. He has added nothing to the content of Seven American Deaths and Disasters, which was recently published by New York-based powerHouse Books. His contribution is the concept itself plus careful selection and editing.

"What constitutes the act of writing is rapidly changing in the digital age," Goldsmith explained to The Committee Room. "Skills that we used to consider outside of the scope of writing — word processing, databasing, recycling, appropriation, intentional plagiarism, identity ciphering, and intensive programming, but to name a few — are now the ways we routinely construct literature."

Kenneth Goldsmith
Goldsmith's earlier works include Fidget (2000), a chronicle of every movement of his body over a thirteen hour period, Day (2003), a transcription of a New York Times issue from an ordinary day in 2000, and Printing Out the Internet (2013), a crowdsourced project that invited the public to print out pages of the internet and send them to a Mexico City art gallery to be added to an installation. Ultimately, ten tons of paper was collected.