A Sense of Direction by Lewis-Kraus (Riverhead)
Magic Hours (McSweeney's) by Bissell
Essayists Gideon Lewis-Kraus and Tom Bissell will discuss and sign
their new respective books, A Sense of Direction and Magic Hours.
"If David Foster Wallace had written Eat, Pray, Love, it might have come close to approximating the adventures of Gideon Lewis-Kraus. A Sense of Direction
is the digressively brilliant and seriously hilarious account of a
fellow neurotic’s wanderings, and his hard-won lessons in happiness,
forgiveness, and international pilgrim fashion." —Gary Shteyngart
Gideon Lewis-Kraus has written for Harper’s, The Believer, The New York Times Book Review, n+1, McSweeney’s, BookForum, The Nation, Slate, and other publications. A 2007-2008 Fulbright fellowship brought him to Berlin, world capital of contemporary restlessness. For the moment he lives in Brooklyn.
Tom Bissell is the author of Extra Lives, Chasing the Sea, God Lives in St. Petersburg, and The Father of All Things. A recipient of the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Bay de Noc Community College Alumnus of the Year Award, he lives in Portland, Oregon.
Photo of Gideon Lewis-Kraus by Rose Lichter Marck. Photo of Tom Bissell by Hendrik Dey.
In medieval times, a pilgrimage gave the average Joe his only break from the daily grind. For Gideon Lewis-Kraus, it promises a different kind of escape. Determined to avoid the kind of constraint that kept his father, a gay rabbi, closeted until midlife, he has moved to anything-goes Berlin. But the surfeit of freedom there has begun to paralyze him, and when a friend extends a drunken invitation to join him on an ancient pilgrimage route across Spain, he grabs his sneakers, glad of the chance to be committed to something and someone.
Irreverent, moving, hilarious, and thought-provoking, "A Sense of Direction" is Lewis-Kraus's dazzling riff on the perpetual war between discipline and desire, and its attendant casualties. Across three pilgrimages and many hundreds of miles - the thousand-year-old Camino de Santiago, a solo circuit of eighty-eight Buddhist temples on the Japanese island of Shikoku, and, together with his father and brother, an annual mass migration to the tomb of a famous Hasidic mystic in the Ukraine - he completes an idiosyncratic odyssey to the heart of a family mystery and a human dilemma: How do we come to terms with what has been and what is - and find a way forward, with purpose?
In "Magic Hours," award-winning essayist Tom Bissell explores the highs and lows of the creative process. He takes us from the set of "The Big Bang Theory" to the first novel of Ernest Hemingway to the final work of David Foster Wallace; from the films of Werner Herzog to the film of Tommy Wiseau to the editorial meeting in which Paula Fox's work was relaunched into the world. Originally published in magazines such as "The Believer," "The New Yorker," and "Harper's," these essays represent ten years of Bissell's best writing on every aspect of creation--be it Iraq War documentaries or video-game character voices--and will provoke as much thought as they do laughter.
What are sitcoms for exactly? Can art be both bad and genius? Why do some books survive and others vanish? Bissell's exploration of these questions make for gripping, unforgettable reading.