MARGIN: Exploring Modern Magical Realism
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26 February 2006
Topic: February 2006

The socially conscious speculative author Octavia Butler died yesterday after sustaining head injuries from a bad fall outside her home in the Seattle suburb of Lake Forest Park. She was 58.

Posted by at 8:46 PM PST
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18 February 2006
Topic: February 2006

Isabel Allende
Isabel Allende will be a major contributor to an International Women's Day project sponsored by The International Museum of Women. The 2006 global project, "Imagining Ourselves: A Global Generation of Women," will commence on March 8, 2006. Of the project, Allende has this to say: "Giving voice to the unheard women of the world through the power of storytelling and conversation will help create understanding and change at a time when it is most needed."

In case you missed it: Ms. Allende was one of eight women to carry the Olympic flag into opening ceremonies at the Games in Turin, Italy, representing the continent of South America. The honor was doubly rewarding, as it was the first time that women were allowed to carry the flag for the international ceremony. The Marin Independent Journal reports that Allende said she would "remember Turin for its youthful energy and passion…There were signs all over the city—'Passion Lives Here.'"

A recently released revision of the 2001 anthology, Her Fork in the Road : Women Celebrate Food and Travel [Lisa Bach, ed.) includes short fiction from Ms. Allende, along with work by foodie laureates M.F.K. Fisher, Ruth Reichl and Frances Mayes. Definitely worth checking out.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez
J.M.Coetzee writes a thoughtful comparative analysis between Gabo's Memories of my Melancholy Whores, Cervantes's Don Quixote and Yasunari Kawabata's House of the Sleeping Beauties for The New York Review of Books.

Toni Morrison
Today is Ms. Morrison's 75th birthday! We wish her many, many more!

The Toni Morrison Society will present Morrison with an inaugural “bench by the road,” as part of a new community outreach initiative at Princeton University in New Jersey. Ten signature benches are planned, with each commemorating sites that are significant to both African American history and Morrison's novels. Suggested locations for future roadside benches include Harlem; the site of Emmett Till's death in Mississippi; certain train station sites in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi; and an all-Black town in Oklahoma. Each of the benches created for the project, expected to meet completion by 2011, will include a commemorative plaque, the donor's name, the Society's name, and the date.

Robert P. Waxler's new manual, Finding a Voice: The Practice of Changing Lives Through Literature, includes a discussion of Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. Waxler is co-founder, with former Bristol County District Court justice Robert Kane, of the 15-year-old "Changing Lives Through Literature" program at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, which exclusively enrolls probationers, a probation officer and a judge. According to Waxler, most offenders sentenced to the program are intelligent but come from marginalized communities. "They feel like they've lost their voice," he said in a Standard-Times article, explaining the origin of the title of his book. Does teaching literature like Morrison's help to reconnect probationers with mainstream life, to guide them to resolve personal issues, to assist in building them into better citizens, to prevent their further criminal behavior? It's hard to say, but these are certainly great reasons for promoting literature, we think.

Salman Rushdie
The infamous Danish cartoons of recent note, which have stirred violent controversy among Moslems, certainly bring back memories of 18 years ago, when a fatwa was launched against Salman Rushdie, his family and his publishers for his notably blasphemic sentiments in Satanic Verses. To draw comparisons to the current violence surrounding the cartoons, you might want to check out comments made by Rushdie expert, professor Pnina Werbner of Britain's Keele University, who says in an interview with Spiegel Online that "there are some lessons (the British) learned from The Satanic Verses that I'm afraid others in Europe still need to learn."
[The Spiegel Online link refers to their English language site.]

According to the New York Press, Rushdie expressed that he thought it was "quite understandable and reasonable for people not to print the cartoons out of fear." As for Blair and Clinton's "pandering" to Islamic fundamentalism, he was more blunt, describing their strategies as "completely chickenshit.”

Rushdie knows about that fear. But interestingly, if you think Rushdie was ever taken off the hook for his "crimes" against Iran back in the 80s, think again. On February 14, the anniversary of the 1989 edict issued by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran's fatah renewed the infamous death sentence against the British author, citing that the condemnation will remain in force "forever." One can't help but wonder if Rushdie's back to looking over his shoulder again, despite his judgments of Blair and Clinton…

Posted by at 8:02 PM PST
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16 February 2006
Topic: February 2006

Don't miss out on our "Isn't It Romantic?" edition of Margin (the question is meant to be a little pointed). Love masquerades as all sorts of things besides what we've come to expect. Imagine:

an unanswered question dropped into a bowl ~ a love letter to the dead ~ a zombi's touch ~ a lover's bed in a city showered by bombs ~ the weight of feelings like so much baggage ~ a postcard depicting the explosion of a heart ~ the fondling of gills ~ the original song between the world's first lovers


Ellen Behrens ~ Allison deFreese ~ William Orem ~ Amy Ratto ~ Alicita Rodriguez ~ Tamara Kaye Sellman ~ Erik Sheldon ~ Rosanna Warren (as Anne Verveine) ~ artist Shwydkij Andrej …and Lord Byron

Other announcements:

• Congratulations to Stephen Gibson, G.L. Grey and Nnedimma Okorafor, who Margin nominated for the SLF Fountain Award. We're keeping our fingers crossed!

• Check out the crystal ball icon on our contents page. Roll your cursor over it and you will foresee into a bit of Margin's future for 2006!

• ACTIVE CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS! Our Hurricane Relief project, Southern Revival: Deep South Magic for Hurricane Relief is off to a good start. We're collecting donations and manuscripts for this special edition of Periphery, which will be released in Spring 2006. Interested in reserving your copy, submitting a manuscript (deadline March 1) or giving a donation? We're asking for $10 minimum, 100% of each donation forwarded to First Book. Our goal? $2,500. That amount of money will enable First Book to provide 5,000 books to hurricane-devastated libraries in the South (including all communities devastated by hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma). That's almost an entire library for a small community!

• Our general reading period is still CLOSED. Sorry, we've got 2006 filled! Stay tuned for news about upcoming calls for submissions, and see Southern Revival, above.

• Because we're in the midst of a vortex of cool changes at Margin, we're inviting everyone and anyone to give us their FEEDBACK. What's worked for you? What hasn't? What would you like to see at Margin that we haven't already done? What really isn't worth our effort? Go to the survey page to download your poll and let us know how we're doing. Your responses will help shape the coming future of Margin.

• Not yet a subscriber? You should be! Seriously. It's free, automated and private. Also, after August 2006 we'll be revamping our subscription service and it could mean that new subscribers will have to pay a little something in order to join the Margin community. If you like what you see, please subscribe; you won't be disappointed.

• Coming in March: a special feature on Women's History Month.

Thanks for your support!
Tamara Kaye Sellman

Posted by at 9:21 AM PST
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6 February 2006
Topic: February 2006

[2.05.06] The operatic adaptation to Toni Morrison's major magical realist undertaking, Beloved, moved its way into Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that "[r]arely is the best-known person in an opera program so far down in the billing. But no matter where Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison is in the pecking order of Margaret Garner—the new opera composed by Richard Danielpour, starring Denyce Graves and co-commissioned by the Opera Company of Philadelphia—you can be sure she did more than contribute the words of the libretto. The force of her values, opinions and vision was felt in the set, stage direction, and even the manner of the music."

[2.04.06] Here's something fun. Central Illinois's reported on a "100 Best First Lines" list written by the American Book Review, a nonprofit journal published at the Unit for Contemporary Literature at Illinois State University. Perhaps you can identify the books to which these lines belong? [If so, contact Margin's editor]

#3. "A screaming comes across the sky." — (1973)

#4. "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." — (1967) [Editor's note: Wait a minute, this should be #1!]

#13. "Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested."—(1925)

#14. "You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler."—(1979)

#19. "I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly considered how much depended upon what they were then doing;—that not only the production of a rational Being was concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;—and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositions which were then uppermost:—Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,—I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that, in which the reader is likely to see me."—(1759)

#23. "One summer afternoon Mrs. Oedipa Maas came home from a Tupperware party whose hostess had put perhaps too much kirsch in the fondue to find that she, Oedipa, had been named executor, or she supposed executrix, of the estate of one Pierce Inverarity, a California real estate mogul who had once lost two million dollars in his spare time but still had assets numerous and tangled enough to make the job of sorting it all out more than honorary."—(1966)

#26. "124 was spiteful."—(1987)

#27. "Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing."—(1605)

#44. "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board."—(1937)

#52. "We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall."—(1988)

#66. " 'To be born again,' sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, 'first you have to die.' " — (1988)

#71. "Granted: I am an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there's a peephole in the door, and my keeper's eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me."—(1959)

#73. "Hiram Clegg, together with his wife Emma and four friends of the faith from Randolph Junction, were summoned by the Spirit and Mrs. Clara Collins, widow of the beloved Nazarene preacher Ely Collins, to West Condon on the weekend of the eighteenth and nineteenth of April, there to await the End of the World."—(1966)

#79. "On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar he parbly ben the las wyld pig on the Bundel Downs any how there hadnt ben none for a long time befor him nor I aint looking to see none agen."—(1980)

#81. "Vaughan died yesterday in his last car-crash."—(1973)

#83. " 'When your mama was the geek, my dreamlets,' Papa would say, 'she made the nipping off of noggins such a crystal mystery that the hens themselves yearned toward her, waltzing around her, hypnotized with longing.' " —(1983)

#99. "They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did."—(1966)

[2.02.06] Chicago's infamous Steppenwolf Theater has announced plans to reprise Toni Morrison's novel, The Bluest Eye, as part of their Young Adults series, to run in October 2006.

[2.01.06] One way to honor the recent passing of Coretta Scott King would be to read Toni Morrison's Remember: The Journey to School Integration, suggests The Philadelphia Daily News. Morrison's book won the Coretta Scott King Author Award, given by the American Library Association, just last year.

[1.26.06] Parents Lisa Friedrichsen and and Sherry Millen of Johnson County, KS, lost their bid to pull a Toni Morrison title off the library shelves in the Blue Valley School District. Both cited that The Song of Solomon (among various other titles by other authors) contained inappropriate language and graphic sex and violence. This is the second bid against a Morrison book by Friedrichsen, who also tried to censor Beloved earlier in this academic year.

[1.23.06] Nellie Kay, who was among the first to champion the work of African American authors, Toni Morrison in particular, passed away on January 22. Madison, WI's Capital Times writes: "McKay was best known as the co-editor of The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, written with Henry Louis Gates Jr. She was a pioneer in the movement to make black studies an academic area of higher education. … She was the author of a 1988 volume, Critical Essays on Toni Morrison, the first full book on Morrison, who would go on to receive the Nobel Prize for literature." Sending you our eternal thanks, Nellie.

Posted by at 10:25 AM PST
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