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The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award


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Intimate nights with Duo KaMa

If you’re in Chicago this week, you won’t want to miss these small, intimate concerts with the electrifying Duo KaMa.  Violinist Maria Storm and pianist Kathy Tagg combine energy, technical mastery and a beguiling, enchanting aesthetic to captivate you. Click here for recordings of them performing Debussy, Dvorak and Nigun, and just imagine how they would sound in a salon.

This week you have the chance to hear them in house concerts as well as an intriguing date at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art. This is the last chance to hear Duo KaMa play in Chicago in 2017.

Here are the dates and locations:

House Concert,
Thursday, September 14th, 7:00 PM
1146 S Taylor, Oak Park, Illinois

Gallery Concert
Saturday, September 16, 7:00 PM
Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art
2320 W Chicago Avenue

House Concert
Sunday, September 17, 4:00 PM
5850 W Race Chicago, IL

I hope to see you there.

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Writing Workshopt with Gint Aras: 3 spots left

Aspiring Chicagoland writers, there are stil three spots left in the spring workshop offered by acclaimed author Gint Aras. the workshop will take place in a lovely apartment above The Buzz Cafe in Oak Park, IL, right in the heart of the Arts District.

 To register, e-mail Gint here. He’ll send you his PayPal information and verify your e-mail address.

Details:

Prose Writing Workshop, with Gint Aras

Friday nights, 6:30-8:30, from April 7-May 26

Upstairs Apartment and Lounge, Buzz Cafe

905 S. Lombard, Oak Park, IL

Open to writers of any level, aged 16 or older

Registration ends after 8 students have registered 

Cost: $420

About Gint:

Gint Aras is the critically acclaimed author of The Fugue (Tortoise, 2016), finalist for the 2016 Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year Award. The novel was called “magisterial” by the Chicago Tribune and a “masterpiece of literary fiction” by Centered on Books. His other prose and translations have appeared in the St. Petersburg Review, Quarterly West, Antique Children, Criminal Class Review, Curbside Splendor, ReImagine, STIR Journal, Heavy Feather Review, and he was a contributing and section editor at The Good Men Project. Aras earned an MFA from Columbia University in the City of New York, and a BA in English and American Literature from the University of Illinois.


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Writing Workshop with Gint Aras

Gint Aras is leading a writing workshop this spring, 2017, in Oak Park’s famous Arts District. The workshop is open to writers of any level, aged 16 or older, and registration is on a first-come, first-served basis, maxing out at 8 students.

Classes begin on April 7th and meet weekly each Friday night thereafter, from 6:30-8:30 PM, at the Upstairs Apartment and Lounge (see photos below) above The Buzz Cafe in Oak Park, IL. The Buzz is only steps from the Austin Blue Line Station, easily accessible via the Eisenhower Expressway.

The course focuses on craft. However, Gint will lead students though strategies for pitching writing, identifying markets, maintaining an internet presence, and he’ll share knowledge of Chicago’s growing, exciting independent publishing and book-selling community. The final meeting on May 26th will feature a reading at a public venue in Chicago. Expect surprise guests!

To register for the course, click here and send him a message, including your name. You must have a PayPal account to register.

Details:

Prose Writing Workshop, with Gint Aras

Friday nights, 6:30-8:30, from April 7-May 26

Upstairs Apartment and Lounge, Buzz Cafe

905 S. Lombard, Oak Park, IL

Open to writers of any level, aged 16 or older

Registration ends after 8 students have registered 

Cost: $420

Gint Aras is the critically acclaimed author of The Fugue (Tortoise, 2016), finalist for the 2016 Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year Award. The novel was called “magisterial” by the Chicago Tribune and a “masterpiece of literary fiction” by Centered on Books. His other prose and translations have appeared in the St. Petersburg  Review, Quarterly West, Antique Children, Criminal Class Review, Curbside Splendor, ReImagine, STIR Journal, Heavy Feather Review, and he is a former contributing and section editor at The Good Men Project. Aras earned an MFA from Columbia University in the City of New York, and a BA in English and American Literature from the University of Illinois.

Portrait

Photo by Tauras Bublys Photography

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Discussions will take place in this wonderful room.

Buzz room 1

And also at this wonderful table

Buzz room 2


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Appearance: Oak Park Public Library, December 4th

Chicago area Liquid Inkers, know that I’ll be appearing with Geralyn Hesslau Magrady at the Oak Park Public Library on December 4th at 2:00.

Geralyn and I will do short readings, then interact and take questions on the writing process, the publishing industry, and our muses. Both of our recent novels—Geralyn’s latest is titled Lines—see fires as central events and metaphors. In my case, it’s a bungalow fire; in Geralyn’s, it’s the Great Chicago Fire. There’s plenty of overlap between the books, including keen senses of place and history.

I love discussing books at library events where the crowds tend to be sober, unlike in the bar events I most often attend. Hope to see you.

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Artists you should know: KaMa Duo in Chicago

Admit it. You’ve never heard the music of the KaMa duo. However, all of this can change for those readers interested in visiting the Fine Arts Building in Chicago on November 18th. If you have the pleasure of listening to these ladies play, you’ll be so deeply moved and provoked by their mastery to be left with an impression for the rest of your life. Hearing their music is like standing under the volume of the Niagara Falls, if sunlight and an angel’s embrace replaced chilling water.

More information is available at this Facebook event page. You will not want to miss this.

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The Chicago Cubs and World Wars (or why the Cubs must win)

Like many Chicagoans—I might be able to say most—I feel both excitement and trepidation at the prospect of a Cubs World Series appearance. The reasons for excitement are obvious. My trepidation, however, is complex and affects more than just sports.

I need to note that, while I’m a passive baseball fan, I was raised by White Sox fans and miss old Comiskey Park more than I love Wrigley. This does not mean I loathe Wrigley  or anything similarly asinine. I celebrated the White Sox 2005 victory having long before shed the usual sense of unfortunate tribalism that accompanies Chicago baseball. Still, that tribalism is a special-enough force, so I should disclose my roots. If the two Chicago teams met in the World Series, I’d probably wear a Fisk jersey while watching the games. That won’t happen this year, so Go Cubs!

The consequences of a Cubs World Series title would be monumental. For many, it would be akin to a religious experience, the revelation of truths, or transubstantiation to a Billy Goat. Some Chicago legends might rise from the dead. Of course, being only one out or, Lord forbid, one strike away from Nirvana also sets one up for monumental heartbreak, and if any team has the karma to cub-it-up, it’s the Chicago Cubs. Perhaps instead of a Bartman we’ll see Game Six affected by a douchebag streaker running out to interfere with a routine fly ball, ruining everything.

But that sort of trepidation is minor compared to this unscientific but curious historical observation I’d like to offer: The Cubs do seem to have a knack for correlating their World Series appearances with World Wars, the rise of demagogues and one Great Depression. The 1918 World Series, mind you, saw its last game played on September 11th. The next day, the Americans attacked, acting alone during WWI for the first time, fighting on the brutal Western Front.

In 1929, the Cubs’ World Series loss occurred only 15 days before Black Tuesday. Of course, the Cubs appearances in the 30’s correlate with a variety of noteworthy dates leading up to the rise of Germany and culminating with the 1938 occupation of the Sudetenland.  The 1945 appearance occurred with the war already having ended, but who’s splitting hairs?

Now the world finds itself in a precarious position that does not need an intro. And the Cubs have a double digit lead in their Division as the magic number continues to decline. I shudder.

It must be said that the aforementioned calamities all correlate with Cubs’ World Series losses. So, this October, dear world, please note that we should *all* be Chicagoans. If the Cubs win the National League, by all that is good and just in the universe, may they play to four more victories. We root against them at our own peril.


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Have I ever been this nervous?

(Ok…maybe I was more nervous when I learned my wife was pregnant.)

But yesterday I received the invitation to read from Nelson Algren’s Chicago: City on the Make at The Wicker Park and West Town Lit Fest. The reading and celebration will take place at Volumes Bookcafe in anticipation of the release of the new Nelson Algren biography. A list of other readers is being compiled, and I’ll publicize when I have more info.

To say I’m humbled is…

Um…yeah…

Obviously, my novel, The Fuguehas been compared to Nelson Algren’s work. Rick Kogan did it on WGN radio, expanding what a few reviewers have noticed. While I wasn’t channeling Algren while writing The Fugue—I’ve actually not read all of Algren’s books—what I’ve read has had a serious impact on my development as a writer.

City on the Make, a prose poem of less than 110 pages, was a punch-in-the-mouth catalyst in my life and career. I was 19 when I first came across it in a writing class at UIC taught by Mike Barrett. Algren’s bloody-knuckle, gilded paean first showed me Chicago as something besides the city where I happened to be living. I think it’s natural for creative people to wish to “get away” for something like “true inspiration”. Algren taught me to start looking around and understanding where I am, to wake up to it.

What struck me was how the language was tough and gentle all at once. Algren knew the hustler and the square equally well, identified with both, could inhabit both minds, and yet his final impact somehow transcends that polarity, sees the world from an elevated position. The poem begins not with any urban brawn but an ode to the prairie and Lake Michigan:

To the east were the moving waters as far as eye could follow. To the west a sea of grass as far as wind might reach.

Waters restlessly, with every motion, slipping out of used colors for new. So that each fresh wind off the lake washed the prairie grasses with used sea-colors: the prairie moved in the light like a secondhand sea. 

Those words, for me, placed Chicago in the natural world. They oriented me, helped me see there wasn’t any difference between a city and the country except for what our minds concocted. From that moment, I was seeing my city—and by extension, all cities—with a different set of eyes.

Unlike New York and Los Angeles, Chicago doesn’t have talent for glamour or glitz. The best we can do is provide ourselves with alleys where we throw our garbage, leave it (mostly) out of sight. But our segregation and corruption and frozen sidewalks and humid Augusts are right there in the open.

My grandfather lamented when the guy who used to renew his drivers license for a bottle of scotch ended up shitcanned. That brand of corruption worked perfectly well. Why ruin it?

It took me years to learn that, outside Chicago, you just needed to kiss your manager’s ass to get ahead. In Chicago it takes finesse to learn who the real player is; the boss is normally a stooge set up to take the fall when shit got real, as it inevitably would. So the stooge is sacked, apologies are made, a new stooge is hired and the hustle’s back on. In Chicago, everything is a front that’s out in the open. You are laundering money just by virtue of working in this city, and it happens whether your know it or not.

Algren knew this well…so so well. He also knew it was unusual, particular, worth a hundred pages. It’s true that the prose is mannered, sometimes awkward. But so is the city.

To get the chance to read from this little huge book, and only a few blocks from Algren’s home in Wicker Park, is going to be…yeah…I’m just elated.

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