Archive for October, 2012


Book Launch: Tara Laskowski, Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons

October 22, 2012

On Saturday, October 27, at 5 p.m., Tara Laskowski (my wife!) will celebrate the publication of her first book, the short story collection Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons (Matter Press), with a launch party at One More Page Books, 2200 North Westmoreland Street, Arlington, VA. Here’s the Facebook page about the book launch, and here’s Tara’s own description of the collection:

There are many etiquette books from Emily Post and others that tell you what to do when attending a wedding, setting the table, asking for a promotion, introducing yourself at a party. What I became interested in is the darker side of etiquette—the way people conduct themselves in situations that Emily Post would never write about. This book started with the story “The Etiquette of Adultery.” I loved that title and all that it suggested. Was there an etiquette, a set of unwritten rules, for a situation that seemed to break all the rules of a “decent” society? From there, the collection grew—exploring the etiquette of obesity, dementia, infertility, arson, etc. These stories were really fun to write for two reasons. One, they allowed me to experiment with form, writing in small sections, chapters, definitions and other pieces of a suggested larger text. And two, I loved seeing how the characters emerged from each story. Each person in these ten stories ends up writing their own codes of etiquette, which I think is actually true in life. We all have our rules, our moral codes, our lines that we won’t cross. It’s when we cross those lines that things get really interesting.

The launch party will feature a short reading of one of the stories from the collection as well as a new, unpublished story, “The Etiquette of the Happy Hour,” and a special numbered limited edition printing of that story will be available to everyone who comes out to the big event. Another perk (given the happy hour theme), our good friend Professor Cocktail has conjured up a special drink for the occasion: The Mild-Mannered Bibliophile (and take our word for it: it’s delicious). All that and cake too? We’ll look forward to seeing you there!

(But of course, if you can’t make it, you can get the book direct from Matter Press here, too.) — Art Taylor


Review: B.A. Shapiro’s The Art Forger in The Washington Post

October 22, 2012

Having worked for many years at an art museum myself, I was very excited about the opportunity to review B.A. Shapiro’s The Art Forger, which takes readers into both the art world and the art forgery world through a tale inspired by the famous Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum robbery. There’s much to admire here, including both the main character, aspiring artist Claire Roth, who makes a Faustian bargain for a shot at fame, and — not unrelated — the novel’s overriding sense of moral consequence. But a central artistic decision kept nagging at me throughout the book, related to both the pleasures and the challenges of building a work of fiction on top of an actual event. Here’s my attempt at a catchy opening for the review:

In March 1990, two men disguised as police officers stole 13 works of art from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum — works collectively valued as high as $500 million, the largest art heist in history. More than two decades later, authorities have still failed to produce any solid leads in the case, but pop culture has had fun locating the loot in a number of unlikely places. In May, Stephen Colbert confessed that he’d stolen Vermeer’s The Concert, the most valuable of the missing paintings. And two years ago on “The Simpsons,” Springfield police came across the same painting in the basement of Mr. Burns’s mansion. “Is it a crime to want nice things?” Burns asked.

Now another of the stolen masterworks seems to have turned up in B.A. Shapiro’s first novel, The Art Forger — but that word “seems” functions on a number of levels here.

Check out the full review here in The Washington Post. — Art Taylor

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