For those of you who may not know, this coming Saturday, August 28, is the first annual celebration of International Read A Comic in Public Day. So grab your favorite comic book or graphic novel—whatever nomenclature suits you—find a public spot; sit down where everybody can see you and read. IRCIPD was created by Brian Heater and Sarah Morean, editor-in-chief and mini-comics editor respectively, at the Daily Cross Hatch, an excellent blog focused on alternative and independent comics and contemporary comics culture.
The two decided to organize a day for the public display of comic book reading after acknowledging an anomalous dark secret among the comics intelligentsia—a lingering and much suppressed embarrassment at being seen reading comics in public! Yes, it’s true, despite our love for this medium, many of us are still secretly worried that if we’re seen reading a comic book, people will think we’re stupid or the hot chick will notice and move to the other side of the subway car. So they proposed a day to encourage all comic book lovers to come out of the closet and show some comic book reading pride.
They seem to have a struck a nerve. Comic book folks—artists, writers, retailers, librarians, publishers, editors and fans of all kinds—are organizing public meetups and planning events to read their comics in parks, bars or wherever and document the public reading event with a photograph. To help the organizing, Heater and Morean have set up a IRCIPD blog, there’s a Twitter Account (@comicsinpublic), Read A Comic in Public Facebook page, a Flickr page and there are posters for bookstores and for libraries. You can even send the organizers a Read A Comic In Public Day question at firstname.lastname@example.org. So come out on August 28, there’s no need to hide anymore. Happy Read A Comic In Public day!
National Book Critics Circle President Jane Ciabattari inaugurates a new series at PWxyz in which we ask book people–and a few non-book people–to tell us what they’re reading right now.
On my fiction stack: Bernice L. McFadden’s novel Glorious, which starts with a bang-up prologue, and has a strong main character (based in part on Zora Neale Hurston), hard-driving prose, and historic sweep of several decades, including the years of the Harlem Renaissance, which has always fascinated me. (I grew up in Kansas, not far from where Langston Hughes was raised; he wrote a poem under a tree at a Sag Harbor friend’s house. And Hurston is a writer/hero of mine.) Also Rick Moody’s provocative and hilarious The Four Fingers of Death (I’m reviewing that one), Mona Simpson’s My Hollywood (ditto), Frederic Tuten’s Self-Portraits, and Eric Gansworth’s Extra Indians.
I just finished Dorothy Allison’s exquisite memoir, Two or Three Things I Know for Sure, and Debra Monroe’s On the Outskirts of Normal. Both strong in voice, which makes memoir work. I’m reading Patti Smith’s Just Kids, which is a revelation. I relished poet Jim Galvin’s autobiographical prose piece The Meadow, which traces the inhabitants of a piece of land high in the Rockies on the Colorado/Wyoming border not far from Laramie. I picked it up at Prairie Lights in Iowa City and read it aloud to my husband on our trip across the U.S on I-80 earlier this summer.
Finally, Joyce Carol Oates’s collection of first-rate critical essays, Rough Country. She won the National Book Critics Circle Sandrof award for lifetime achievement this year, partly for her work as a critic. Here she’s focused on some of my favorites–Flannery O’Connor, Margaret Atwood, Annie Proulx, Shirley Jackson. And I’m also learning a lot from Kenneth Lincoln’s critical book, Cormac McCarthy. (I was just in Taos, and reminded how different the arid and sometimes violent Southwest is from the Upper West Side.)