Zadie Smith and Chris Ware looking at a page of Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth at our closing event of the Fall season.
See more photos from the evening by LIVE photographer Jori Klein here…
To work as hard as possible, and then, when you think you’re done, to work just a little bit harder. To know that if it feels “right” it may actually be completely wrong, and that if it feels “wrong” it may be completely right. There’s no governing principle to any of this except that strange instinct and feeling within yourself that you simply have to learn to trust, but which is always unreliably changing. To create something for people who have not been born yet. To pay attention to how it actually feels to be alive, to the lies you tell yourself and others. Not to overreach—but also not to get too comfortable with your own work. To avoid giving in to either self-doubt or self-confidence, depending on your leaning, and especially to resist giving over your opinion of yourself to others—which means not to seek fame or recognition, which can restrain rather than open your possibility for artistic development. With all this in mind, not to expect anything and to be grateful for any true, non-exploitative opportunity that presents itself, however modest. And to understand that being able to say “I don’t know what to do with my life” is an incredible privilege that 99% of the rest of the world will never enjoy.
Chris Ware’s advice to those struggling with creative work, in a delightful interview that’s chock full of his hard-earned wisdom and trademark self-effacement with Rookie Magazine.
By Zadie Smith
“Smith’s piercing new novel, her first in seven years, traces the friendship of two women who grew up in a housing project in northwest London, their lives disrupted by fateful choices and the brutal efficiency of chance. The narrative edges forward in fragments, uncovering truths about identity and money and sex with incandescent language that, for all of its formal experimentation, is intimate and searingly direct.”
By Chris Ware
“Ware’s innovative graphic novel deepens and enriches the form by breaking it apart. Packaged in a large box like a board game, the project contains 14 ‘easily misplaced elements’ — pamphlets, books, foldout pages — that together follow the residents of a Chicago triplex (and one anthropomorphized bee) through their ordinary lives. In doing so, it tackles universal themes including art, sex, family and existential loneliness in a way that’s simultaneously playful and profound.”
via NYTimes’ “10 Best Books of 2012”
Congratulations to both Zadie and Chris for writing two of the 10 best books of the year! We’re thrilled to have them as our closing guests for the season on December 11 and hope you’ll join us in welcoming these masters of their crafts to the stage. (It also doesn’t hurt that they’re pretty much in friend-love with each other already.)
And yet despite this haphazardness, whereby the reader pieces this fractured graphic narrative together in whatever way comes to hand, there is always a forceful sense of the steady passage of time. We see the woman’s face change, her sadness seeming to settle into its structure; and, in Ware’s many unclothed depictions of her, we see the inevitable slump and spread of her body, her shoulders hunched under a private history of tolerable defeats.
Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand — but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied.
#10 on Zadie Smith’s “10 Rules of Writing”
Smith is a LIVE favorite and will be joining us again (along with colossally gifted comic book artist Chris Ware) for the closing night of this season, on December 11. Get tickets here and watch Smith’s past conversation with Paul Holdengraber here.
Building Stories carries, in its box of 14 books, pamphlets and Möbius comic strips, a certain buffer against criticism. Forster said, “One always tends to overpraise a long book, because one has got through it,” and I’m fearful of a related effect here. Ware’s work is so impressive – the composition, the structure, the detail, the art – that it’s tempting to switch off critical faculties; or, worse, fail to notice that they’ve been switched off. (Hang on though, that doesn’t sound so bad.) At the same time, why should a publication as different as this be judged in the same terms as those anodyne, anaemic books without pictures?
But the format also troubled me a little. A collection of stories to be read in any order always risks seeming like an abdication of responsibility by the writer, though I admit that my response (“Just tell me what order to read it in!”) might be mostly to do with my own completist and obsessive impulses….Yet the conceit worked for me. There seemed to be a direction built in to my random reading order: from the gold-spined hardcover which introduces the main characters, through cycles in the life of the main heroine, to a literally tear-jerking conclusion – spliced with episodes from the life of Branford, the Best Bee in the World.
—John Self reviews Chris Ware’s new collection, Building Stories.
Ware will be at LIVE on December 11 with Zadie Smith to discuss Building Stories alongside NW. Learn more and get tickets here…