Saturday 1 August 2020

A Leap in the Dark 36

A Leap in the Dark 36   8pm  Saturday 1st August 2020

       Close reading

Close reading is the careful, sustained interpretation of a brief passage of a text. A close reading emphasizes the single and the particular over the general, effected by close attention to individual words, the syntax, the order in which the sentences unfold ideas, as well as formal structures. The technique of close reading emerged in 1920s Britain in the work of I. A. Richards, his student William Empson, and the poet T.S. Eliot, all of whom sought to replace an "impressionistic" view of literature then dominant with what Richards called a "practical criticism" focused on language and form.

A century later, where are we? 

Join authors Brian Dillon, Wendy Erskine and Linda Mannheim for a close reading masterclass, with Stephanie Ellyne, Aea Varfis-van Warmelo and The Pale Usher

There's no charge for taking part in A Leap in the Dark, but please make a donation, no matter how large, to The Trussell Trust.

The Programme

1 The Pale Usher welcomes you

2 Some brief thoughts on close reading 

3 Ford Madox Ford on D. H. Lawrence and ‘Odour of Chrysanthemums’

4 Suppose a Sentence: a conversation with Brian Dillon, with readings by 
  Stephanie Ellyne

A series of essays prompted by a single sentence - from Shakespeare to Gertrude Stein, John Ruskin to Joan Didion - the book explores style, voice, and language, along with the subjectivity of reading.Both an exercise in practical criticism and a set of experiments or challenges, Suppose a Sentence (published by Fitzcarraldo Editions) is a polemical and personal reflection on the art of the sentence in literature. 


5 Linda Mannheim’s short story ’MISSING GIRL, 5, GONE FIFTEEN MONTHS’ - a 
  close reading with Wendy Erskine 

 (Linda’s short story will be circulated to all Leapers before the show)

6 Linda Mannheim responds to Wendy’s close reading

7 The Settee Salon: Wendy, Linda and Brian in conversation

8 The Pale Usher signs off

The Company

Brian Dillon was born in Dublin in 1969. His books include Essayism, The Great Explosion (shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize), Objects in This Mirror, I Am Sitting in a Room, Sanctuary, Tormented Hope: Nine Hypochondriac Lives (shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize) and In the Dark Room, which won the Irish Book Award for non-fiction. His writing has appeared in the Guardian, New York Times, London Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, Bookforum, frieze and Artforum. He is UK editor of Cabinet magazine, and teaches Creative Writing at Queen Mary, University of London. His latest book, Suppose a Sentence, is published by Fitzcarraldo Editions.

Stephanie Ellyne is an American actress based in London. She recorded the audio book of Lucy Ellmann’s Ducks, Newburyport, released by Whole Story in 2020. Other voice work includes playing Amy Jennings in on-going British/American audio drama Dark Shadows with Big Finish, nominated for the BBC Audio Drama Awards; The Confessions of Dorian Gray (Big Finish; Open Book (BBC Radio 4; and The Man Behind The Prophet (BBC World Service).  She has recorded stories for the annual Costa Short Story Award and is a frequent narrator for RNIB Talking Books. Her most recent audio book is Artifact by Arlene Heyman, released this month by Bloomsbury/ID Audio.

Wendy Erskine works full-time as a secondary school teacher in Belfast. Her debut short story collection, Sweet Home, was published in 2018 by Stinging Fly and in 2019 by Picador. Her work has been published in The Stinging Fly, Stinging Fly Stories and Female Lines: New Writing by Women from Northern Ireland. She also features in Being Various: New Irish Short Stories (Faber and Faber), Winter Papers and on BBC Radio 4 Buy Sweet Home here:

Linda Mannheim is the author of three books of fiction: Risk, Above Sugar Hill, and This Way to Departures. Her short stories have appeared in magazines in the US, UK, South Africa, and Canada. Her broadcast work has appeared on BBC Witness and KCRW Berlin. She is also the co-host of Why Why Why: The Books Podcast.

Aea Varfis-van Warmelo is a trilingual actor and writer.

The Pale Usher is David Collard, who organises these gatherings.

The pale Usher—threadbare in coat, heart, body, and brain; I see him now. He was ever dusting his old lexicons and grammars, with a queer handkerchief, mockingly embellished with all the gay flags of all the known nations of the world. He loved to dust his old grammars; it somehow mildly reminded him of his mortality.
  Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

The next Leap in the Dark on Friday 7th August will feature:

- Spring Journal canto XXI by Jonathan Gibbs, read by Michael Hughes 

- Yoga with the shameless shaman ‘Guru Dave’ 

- Alan Fielden poet, theatre maker, artist

- Another extract from 24/7 Brexitland performed by Amy McCauley

Stay well!

The Pale Usher

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