Thursday, January 24, 2008

Check it out!

This afternoon, at the UCI bookstore, novelist Marianne Wiggins, National Book Award winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist, will read from her new novel, "The Shadow Catcher."

In her review in The Washington Post, Wendy Smith writes:

There are passages in Marianne Wiggins's eighth novel so piercingly beautiful that I put the book down, shook my head and simply said, "Wow." She's reproduced a number of photographs in her text -- appropriately, since her subject is a photographer -- but these physical images pale in comparison to the pictures she creates with words. Buoyed by Wiggins's gorgeous prose, we soar in the very first scene, as she imagines flying over California, "on the edge, at night, after the coyotes end their braying, there's an hour after midnight when a silence drops into these canyons which persists 'til the first birdsong of morning." Before plunging into the particulars of her story, we already know that this restless, challenging author is once again asking us to contemplate the deeper meaning of our national character and destiny, the ways the American landscape has shaped us and we have shaped it...
...At the center of The Shadow Catcher is the real-life photographer Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952). Wiggins combines Curtis's experiences with the adventures of a woman she has created named Marianne Wiggins. This Marianne has written a novel about Curtis, and there are some things that trouble her about his work. His early 20th-century photographs of American Indians fixed their image as a noble, doomed race. "But they're lies," Marianne says. "They're propaganda." Curtis altered his photos to eliminate such traces of modern life as cars and clocks; his subjects were no longer roaming the plains, but "confined in high-security encampments . . . deprived of their livelihoods, forced into the manufacture of 'Indian-ized' tourist junk."

This is the first reading in the new year at the UCI Bookstore. Bookstore manager Matt Astrella always puts on a great event, offering the author's new book at a discount and often putting on a small spread as well. 5 pm. The bookstore is located inside the Student Center. The event is free and open to the public.

ALSO AT UCI, THIS SATURDAY:The Humanities Research Institute and the departments of Humanities, English and Comparative Literature present: In Ngugi's Spirit. A celebration of the life, art, and 70th birthday of Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Distinguished Professor of English & Comparative Literature and International Center for Writing and Translation director.

One of the foremost contemporary African writers and an exile of Kenya and former political prisoner, Ngugi's work as literary figure, activist, and academic testify to his relentless passion and commitment to deliver much needed critique. In 2006 Ngugi published his first novel in nearly two decades, the critically lauded and lengthy The Wizard and the Crow, which went on to win the California Gold Award for fiction in 2007.

With Chancellor Michael V. Drake; Zachary Dominic Muburi-Muita, Kenya's U.N. ambassador; Angela Davis, activist and UC Santa Cruz professor; poets Mukoma Wa Ngugi (Ngugi's son), Simon J. Ortiz and Sonia Sanchez; Liu Sola, musician; and Koffi Koko, dancer. Also includes book signing and reception.

Festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Crystal Cove Auditorium. ~free~ For more information: call: 949.284.9629 or email:

Let's go.


Jonathan K. Cohen said...

The Wiggins reading was terrific, although Steve Carter, the bookstore's interim marketing manager, overpurchased scones by a factor of five. The chapter she read was a tour de force. It was also difficult not to take her remark that her relationship to her subject, Curtis, "like every other relationship I've ever had, started with infatuation and ended with disillusionment," quite literally. Oh, Salman?

Rebel Girl said...

Wiggins' ex Rushdie will be at Chapman in a couple months...

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