Larry McMurtry: May the Books Flourish!

Larry wrote a piece for The Daily Beast today and we have it here for you… Enjoy!

“For writer Larry McMurtry, auctioning off part of his vast book collection was bittersweet, but they are off on a new adventure in the hands of new readers. He writes to urge readers to support a film on Kickstarter documenting this remarkable sale.”

Art of various kinds is often expensive, and filmmaking especially so. Thousands of gifted filmmakers, young and old, have waited hat in hand at the studio gates, only to be turned away with nothing.

That’s why Kickstarter and like organizations—which secure funding through donations from people with an interest in art-to-be—are a healthy and adventurous way to go. Let the studios eat cake, as a famous lady once said.

Writing prose, on the other hand, is a solitary endeavor (unless one has a fine writing partner, as do I). And as such, it’s not very expensive. Paper, a typewriter, and a place to write is all I needed; that is, until I was given a laptop computer.

I came to the world of computers at least 20 years late, thus missing whole generations of pods, tablets, and the like, which is too bad. Diana Ossana, my writing partner and close friend, purchased a MacBook for me recently, at my request. I let it sit for six months and then made a cautious approach to the keyboard, as one might approach a wary woman. I respect it greatly, and though I work at it every day, we are not yet on familiar terms. But maybe, if time allows, I’ll improve.

At present, the fledgling artistic project nearest to my heart is a worthy one called “BOOKS, A Documentary,” a film about my own passion for books, a passion that led me to create a book town in my home place of Archer City, Texas.

At its peak, my book town harbored between 500,000 and 600,000 volumes, not counting my own 28,000 volume personal library. I love my books, all of them. Holding them in my hands, leafing through the pages, is a comfort to me. But this is a lot of books: my son and grandson might not be so inclined as to simply sit and appreciate their presence.

So, I held an auction in Archer City over three scorching summer days in August 2012 to reduce the burden of books that might be left to my heirs, should I depart before my inventory does. I managed, during said auction, to launch two-thirds of said inventory back out into the world, all taking up residence with new and enthusiastic owners. The adventures of those books will be documented, should the smart young filmmakers have their way.

It’s been a bittersweet experience for me, parting with my beloved stock, but they’ve been given a second life, on bookshelves and in storefronts all across America.

The filmmakers are my goddaughter Sara Ossana and her husband Mathew Provost. May they–and the books–flourish! — Larry McMurtry

Support Books by becoming a backer –http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/studioseven7films/books-a-documentary-take-2

Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 1.14.42 PM

The Top 5 Cities for Pop-up Libraries Across America

large_7694473550

The world is more mobile now with smart sensors and wearable technology embedding themselves into every aspect of our lives.  As a result, people are increasingly rediscovering the original mobile device – the book.  It’s completely secure, doesn’t mind being dropped and never runs out of power.  As Ray Bradbury pointed out, it can even survive temperatures up to 450 degrees F.

As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, we have begun to see the real world equivalent of the ubiquitous app store is something called a “pop-up library.”  People who love books are transforming vestigial cultural icons into mini-libraries for the exchange of books.  In the Netherlands, a shipping container has become a friendly green children’s library.  In Bulgaria, a trolly bus has transformed into a book nook with 600 books and cozy chairs for reading.  Perhaps the most poignant example is Argentina’s Weapon of Mass Instruction, a tank filled with books as a mobile library and cultural commentary.

Pop up libraries like these are appearing all over the US as well, as another generation discovers just how cool books are.  Here are five of the more ambitious projects in cities across the country.

1. New York – When you hear the name John Locke, do you think of the 17th century English philosopher or Jack’s mystical antagonist on ‘Lost’?  Actually, he is also an architect who has built pop up libraries in abandoned New York phone booths.  Locke’s project is open ended but his site points out that there are almost 14,000 pay phone booths in NYC.  No one knows where books will be popping up next.

2. Orlando – Even smaller cities like Florida’s Amusement City have been dabbling in displays of books as sharable art.  The Corridor Project installed boxes of books all over the city for residents to “take it or leave it.”  Is it art or public service?  It doesn’t have to be a choice.

3. Chicago – The “Second City” hasn’t been second in size or population for a long time, but it is right behind New York in terms of pop up libraries.  The Chicago Underground Library has launched popups all over the city, with displays of printed treasures going back more than 100 years.

4. Austin – Texas represents the past in terms of cattle drives and outlaws, but Austin is a different animal.  Thanks to the University of Texas, Austin has become a little Hollywood and mini-Silicon Valley.  At the annual SXSW festival, Austin has introduced new technology like Twitter and Foursquare.  Popups of all kinds, including popup libraries, have been a staple at SXSW for years.

5. San Francisco – Newspaper stands are another rapidly disappearing cultural artifact as print has moved online.  Once a day is too slow for the contemporary news cycle, so newspaper stands have been converted into pop up libraries by the San Francisco Public Library.

If you’ve been to any of these pop up libraries or have plans to start one in your own city, we’d love to hear about your experience.

~ Mathew

#SupportBooks
by visiting
kickstarter-logo-light

photo credit: docpop via photopin cc

The business of imagination

A life long Connecticut resident, Brian Trent, was born in Waterbury CT, once nicknamed ‘Brass-City’ for it’s manufacture of watches and clocks through the first half of the 20th century.  Since his earliest memory, Brian has had a life long fascination with discovering how the world and space ‘tick’.  A passion, he most likely picked up from spending time his family, also science fiction fans.

This past April, Brian Trent was honored by Writers of the Future in Hollywood for his story “War Hero”.  We asked him to write about his experience.

Trent-BlogI had been writing stories since childhood, scribbling adventure tales on stacks of yellow legal pads. For my sixth birthday my parents bought me a typewriter (a metallic blue Brother 11) and my way of thanking them was to incessantly pound out stories late into the night like an over caffeinated drummer. Then I’d mail these stories to prospective magazines; since my penmanship resembles a cross between drunken cuneiform and double-exposed Chinese calligraphy, I can’t be sure how many ultimately reached their destinations.

Flash-forward to 2012. I wrote “War Hero” on my computer, which is quieter than my typewriter and doesn’t jam if I type too fast (although most of the white lettering has long since worn off of the keys; I still type like other people drum.) I mailed the story to the Writers of the Future Contest, one of the most prestigious competitions of the genre, and waited. Half of the struggle in this business is learning to wait.

In December, I get the phone call: “Mr. Trent? I’m calling to let you know that your story has just been selected as a winner in the 29th Annual Writers of the Future Contest.”  Ah! I could finally justify to my parents the many nights I kept them up with the clack-clack-clack of my typewriter!  In April, I was flown out to Hollywood, taken through an exquisite week-long writing workshop, met the luminaries of the field, and got to give an acceptance speech.

I first sat down to write “War Hero” in order to explore an idea:  If minds can be uploaded and downloaded at will, how does that change the face of war?  What if the war criminal you’re tracking can literally be anyone, and you’re never really sure if you’ve eliminated the last copy?  To be sure, mind-uploading is a theme I’ve explored before (Apex Magazine’s latest issue features my story “A Matter of Shape-space” which also tackles this prickly issue) but “War Hero” took the concept and galloped straight into an especially grisly lair of ideas.

Whether grisly or not, ideas are the fuel behind all fiction.  Ideas are what kept my six-year-old self up late at night, hammering out tales of exotic places and possible futures.  Ideas are what books communicate across generations and civilizations, from stone tablet to electronic tablet, from yellow legal pad to whatever we’ll be using tomorrow.  What WILL we be using tomorrow?

Time to explore another idea…

Brian Trent
Read War Hero – Here
#SupportBooks
by visiting
kickstarter-logo-light
—–

“Books: A Documentary” Kickstarter Campaign Launch

Hello world,

Our first Kickstarter Campaign has launched with the goal of raising funds to finish “Books: A Documentary”.  By backing our project you’re telling the world that you believe in us and our film.  We know that you all have influence and when you share something, people pay attention.  Not only that, you can receive some amazing rewards.  So please, take a few seconds to take a peek at our Kickstarter Page and use this link http://kck.st/13pQtEO to spread the Book love.  Early Christmas shopping anyone..?

Thank you ~ Mathew, Sara and the entire “Books: A Documentary” team.

Books

This past August over 300,000 antiquarian books from Larry McMurtry’s Booked Up were sold at auction:  This is the story of those books.

With a timeless legacy of 32 novels and 14 non-fiction books to Larry McMurtry’s credit, it is his avocation as a rare book scout, dealer and connoisseur that “Books: A Documentary” explores.  By recounting Mr. McMurtry’s self-proclaimed love affair with books, beginning over forty years ago when he opened the first Booked Up storefront in Washington, D.C., we tell the compelling story of the American antiquarian book trade: its past, present and future.

Visit “Books: A Documentary”

#SupportBooks
by visiting us on
kickstarter-logo-light

5 Books every American should read…

In celebration of Independence Day, we asked Larry if he would give us a list of the 5 books he thinks every American should read, here is what he said:

One of the fun things to do in a well-stocked bookshop such as the one shown in this lovely, haunting documentary is to create Best Book Lists.  I was working on a history of these harmless exercises for Barbara Epstein, a great woman of letters and editor for The New York Review of Books, when she passed away.

Here’s a sampler of five great books every American should, at the very least, hold in their hand and browse:

“The Journals of Lewis and Clark,” by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark – the journey Lewis and Clark made across North America in 1806 helped secure for us much of the continent. It is also a robust work of literature.

Image

———————————

“Awakenings,” by Oliver Sacks – a tragic account of those victims of the l9l8 Spanish flu epidemic who didn’t die, but instead slept their lives away.

Awakenings Cover

———————————

“Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain – the book Hemingway said all American literature derives from; he was far from wrong.

twain-huck-finn

———————————

“The Sun Also Rises,” by Ernest Hemingway – the novel that set a new high standard for American prose.

lf

———————————

“V,” by Thomas Pynchon – the great book of the Seventies generation.

123665

—Larry McMurtry

#SupportBooks
by visiting us on
kickstarter-logo-light