Literature Program

Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.


Talking Leaves…Books, Hallwalls, UB English Dept./Exhibit X Fiction, Canisius College Contemporary Writers Series, riverrun, Just Buffalo Literary Center, & Larkin Square Author Series present

Heather O'Neill & John Freeman

WNY Book Arts Center
468 Washington St, Buffalo, NY

The Lonely Hearts Hotel

(Riverhead Books, February 2017)

On Wednesday, March 1, at 7:30 pm at Western New York Book Arts Center (WNYBAC), John Freeman, former president of the National Book Critics Circle and former editor of the literary magazine Granta, founder and editor of the literary magazine Freeman's, and author of How to Read a Novelist, will engage in conversation with Heather O'Neill, author of the just released novel, The Lonely Hearts Hotel, and contributor to the current issue of Freeman's. Two of her earlier works were short listed for the ScotiaBank-Giller Prize, and her first novel, Lullabies for Little Criminals, was the 2007 selection for Canada Reads, the annual CBC book competition. Mr. Freeman and Ms. O'Neill will discuss the mechanics of literary publishing and the relationship between editor and writer, along with issues of design, structure, and editing. Ms. O'Neill will give a brief reading from her work, followed by a question and answer session and a book signing by both authors. Attendees will also get a look at WNYBAC's collection of letterpresses. Mick Cochrane, curator of the Canisius College Contemporary Writers Series, and the students in his literary publishing class will be contributing to this session.

Talking Leaves…Books, in collaboration with the Canisius College Contemporary Writers Series, UB English Department and Exhibit X Fiction Series, riverrun, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Just Buffalo Literary Center, and the Larkin Square Author Series, is pleased to announce two days of discussion and celebration of the traditional publishing system, featuring editor and critic John Freeman, fiction writers Emily Fridlund and Heather O'Neill, publisher Grove/Atlantic's Editorial Director Elisabeth Schmitz, and literary agent Nicole Aragi, in conversations about writing, editing, and literary publishing under siege in this moment of historic change and upheaval. The two fiction writers will also read from their recent publications.

Though most of us know, more or less, how to do it, writing has always been a challenging art. For those who wish to make their work public, publishing is the final challenge, and historically a difficult one, since producing books was a labor and capital-intensive affair, around which was built a whole eco-system of selection and curation, and a set of standards. Technological changes over the past half-century have made it easier and less expensive to produce a book, and today it is possible for almost anyone to publish his/her work on his/her own.

The upside of these changes is that the barriers to publication have been largely eradicated. The downside is that the shrinking of the barriers has led to the publication of much sub-standard work. Publishers, editors, agents—the so-called gatekeepers of the traditional publishing system—serve a useful and necessary purpose, helping to ensure that the best work makes its way into the world. The events we have scheduled are intended to help illuminate the continuing value of the traditional publishing process in the time of rapid change and disruption.

John Freeman was the editor of Granta until 2013. His books include How to Read a Novelist, Tales of Two Cities, and the forthcoming Tales of Two Americas. Maps, his debut collection of poems, will be published by Copper Canyon in October. He is executive editor at the Literary Hub and teaches at the New School and New York University. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and the Paris Review and been translated into more than twenty languages.