So many exciting things are going on this week and I am quite excited to share them with you, guys.
First, let’s talk about Hemmingway’s celebration. On 21st July, it would have been Hemmingway’s 116th birthday and, as every year since 1980, the “Papas” from Key West, Florida, United States, decided to put Hemmingway in the place of honour in a very distinctive way… Indeed, the annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest, part of a wider celebration (the annual Hemingway Days celebration), is currently taking place in Key West and its winner will be announced on Saturday 25th July. I can almost imagine you frowning while reading these lines and wonder who these Papas are and if a Hemingway’s lookalike contest actually exists. And I can officially answer that yes, lookalike contests are not Elvis’ privilege anymore… For 35 years, contestants (the so-called “Papas”) have kept coming to attend this extraordinary contest which welcomes “stocky white-bearded man” looking like Hemmingway. This year, the preliminary rounds took place at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, a bar where Hemmingway used to go to have a drink. No cash prize for the winner but the honour to be the best Hemmingway’s lookalike, in a city where Hemmingway is still an “icon”, as the contestants gladly admit. The Papas even created a Hemingway lookalike society, which has set up a scholarship programme for students of the Florida Keys Community College. That’s great to think that an author who has become an icon can bind together a community and push people to take helpful initiatives even decades after his death!
Now, let’s focus a bit on London, where a very exciting event is in preparation. The Southbank Centre has just announced London Literature Festival’s line up for this year and I am really looking forward to attending it now! The main interest of this year’s festival, which will take place from the 28th of September to the 12th of October, will be the first live reading ever of Moby Dick, Herman Melville’s masterpiece, which was published in London in October 1851 for the first time under the title The Wale. It will feature 160 10-minute readings by actors, writers and comedians over four days. A special reading will even take place on Craven Street, where Melville lived for two months in 1849! That sounds like an ambitious and quite fun programme. Moreover, everyone can have the chance to take part in this reading, as anyone from the public can apply for a reading slot and, if they are selected, read along the special guests. In addition to this phenomenal reading, there will be, among many other exciting events, a conversation between Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam and a special guest around Gilliam’s life and work, and, above all, Gilliam’s latest memoir, which will be published in October: Gilliamesque: A Pre-Posthumous Memoir. Another event that I really don’t want to miss will be the introduction of Tom Morris and his first short story collection by author Ali Smith, who guided Tom Morris in this book’s writing process. What about you, guys? Are you going to attend any event from the London Literature Festival? What do you think about this year’s line up?
Finally, I couldn’t not mention the big book-related scandal everyone is talking about in the newspapers these last days (and no, it is not about Harper Lee this time…)! If I say Australia, will you guess? To keep it short, Pan Macmillan, the UK publisher of Bret Easton Ellis’s classic novel American Psycho, experienced “an unforeseen production error”(yes, another one!) and, as a result, a small number of copies of the Picador classic edition of American Psycho was released without shrink-wrapping and shipped this way to Australian booksellers. The problem is that in Australia books also fall under classification laws and, in this regard, American Psycho belongs to the “restricted classification”, which means that it can only be sold “in a sealed wrapper and to adults”. Due to this error, a bookshop in Adelaide ended up selling copies of the novel without the required plastic wrapping and experienced a police raid during which bookseller Jason Lake and the rest of Imprint Booksellers’ staff were asked to remove copies of the book from the shelves after an angry and offended customer called Jason Lake to ask why this classified book was being sold without its wrapping. I find it totally crazy that a book which was released in 1991 still keeps shocking right-minded people and causing such scandals… Another proof of the power of literature! And even if I don’t approve the fact that this book can only be sold to adults in some countries, because it’s a form a censorship towards some people who should have the choice to read this book or not (I was a teenager when I tried to read it and gave up because I couldn’t stand the author’s style, and I am really glad that I could do so…), I believe that this also shows the power of the books in a way. That proves that in some countries books are considered, in the same way as movies, as unsuited and potentially dangerous for some readers. Even if this is a very restrictive point of view because it deprives many people from part of their freedom, I like the fact that it asserts once again the power of books over people and this whole affair makes me feel like trying to read American Psycho again. I may have missed something…
As always, please let me know in the comment what got your attention this week!
See you next week!