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Posts Tagged ‘Lara Vapnyar’

Saying Goodbye to 2011… Welcoming 2012…

Every December 30 I try to jot down some thoughts about the year passed, to relive special moments, meditate on new experiences, say goodbye to disappointments and gear up for the New Year!

And every April (or May or June) I stumble upon those December notes and see them unfinished, dropped in the middle of a sentence because (pick one) the youngest woke up from a nap, the oldest needed me right that moment, or someone called about work… I hit Save and run out thinking I still have December 31 to finish my year-end report.
And then April (or June or May) comes. You get the picture…
So today, January 13, 2012, on the eve of the Russian Old New Year, I wanted to reflect on my Salons, my almost three-year-old baby, my lifeline to the world of creative effort, to people who write and read.
The stats: we hosted five fantastic salons, featuring poetry (twice!), humor, short stories and – not to forget – Russia!

The take-away: We introduced new writers, met new friends and discovered new depths in ourselves, and others. The writers had new books, poems and stories published in 2011, some of them for the first time!
I’m happy to mention that I belong to this group: my short story Aunt Lucy was published by The Jet Fuel Review.

The highlights:
Lara Vapnyar, one of my favorite Russian-American writers, read at the Russia! Salon. I’m still tingling from the humor and nostalgia in her writing.
– I’m thrilled to have met – and then feature at the Salon – Simon Van Booy, my favorite living author. If I were younger, I’d be his groupy. But I don’t think there’s such a thing for writers.
– I had Eugene Ostashevsky read at both poetry salons. If you heard Eugene read his work – you’d come back for more. I did. I envy his poetry students at NYU.
– My friends came through over and over – recommending excellent new writers, spreading the word about Salons, bringing friends over to experience the magic we create together. Thank you!

What else? My 5 year-old knows that I host literary salons and thinks it’s cool. And she now reads in English and Russian! I wish the same to all of you! Let’s find more time to read!
Happy New Year! And remember – our biggest Salon to date is coming! Be there!

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I’m most excited about this upcoming winter salon on February 9. Its theme is Russia! and we have over 60 people coming to listen…
We’ll also have books for sale by published authors – Lara Vapnyar and Jennifer Gilmore – thanks to a smart little company Mobile Libris. And I thought – how interesting it is, that while an unpublished writer’s life’s desire is to get published, the main appeal of this upcoming salon (for me) is to hear Lara Vapnyar read from her unpublished book. For me, it’s as if I were allowed to peak into a closed room, or let in on a secret that nobody is allowed to know but me. And as I thought all this, I realized that hearing works that haven’t been published is indeed the main attraction of my salons and the reason I started them. Because let’s face it. Some writers will never get published (even though they might be very well deserving), while published authors might take a long time to write something new… And here you have it – access to something that can’t be found anywhere else… The secret only you can know.

I’m one of the unpublished ones (for full length fiction that is). Yet I realize that getting published for me is not a goal in itself (I’ve only sent out two queries for my book). It’s about being heard, it’s about being on stage, watching the sparkle in the eyes of the listeners and knowing (or hoping) that they want to know more…

I believe that storytelling will never go away, the kind of storytelling where the reader and the listeners are in the same room, seeing each other’s facial expressions, postures, gestures, watching lips move and eyes dart over the page. We might live in the age of the Kindle, but listening to a good story (just for you) won’t perish. Because it’s going back to your childhood: when your mother read to you before you went to bed, and you treasured every moment of it.

Those memories sustain you, long after the stories are forgotten and the mothers are dead. “And that’s all I have to say about that.”

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