paper trail

May 26, 2011 @ 4:00:00 am

BEA Diary, Part 2. Highlights: Flavor Flav arrives at the Javits Center, wearing a crown. Lisa Pearson, the mastermind behind Siglio Press, gives Bookforum editors two of her Georges Perec-inspired paper airplanes, and reading the detailed Publishers Weekly coverage of the Expo, which seems to be produced instantly and almost makes being at the conference seem unnecessary. Lowlight: Making eye contact with a Scientologist dressed in pirate’s garb.

So much time, energy, and money is spent traveling to and attending conferences like BEA, and yet the experience often leaves participants feeling overwhelmed, dissatisfied, and bored. Why do these gatherings miss the mark? How can organizers create a better format for like-minded people to network and share ideas? These questions were at the heart of author and professional improv instructor Misha Glouberman’s presentations at BEA on Tuesday and Wednesday, as he promoted his forthcoming book, The Chairs are Where the People Go (written with Sheila Heti). On Wednesday, he encouraged the audience, which included editors from literary magazines, bookstore owners, publicists, librarians, and other book-lovers, to leave the room if they got bored, move all the chairs in the room into better arrangements, and to talk about what they liked about their jobs, rather than dwelling on the book industry’s problems. As Glouberman put it, “There’s no line item in the budget for making conferences not suck,” but a page or two from his book—which is about much more than just meetings—would help accomplish that lofty goal.

Elevator Repair Service, the brilliant New York theater company who last year gave an eight-hour dramatic performance of The Great Gatsby, is now condensing three classics into 22 minutes.

The audio book for Keith Richard’s Life—narrated by Richards, Joe Hurley, and Johnny Depp—took the top award at the Audie Awards ceremony this week.

This week, the New Yorker’s website features a fascinating podcast by writer Rachel Aviv, who discusses her new article about a mentally ill woman named Linda Bishop. What happens, Aviv asks, when people fail to realize that they’ve experienced a psychic break?