tag: everything here is the best thing everholidayjustin taylor

December 2009

what our writers do when they’re not writing books

They’re in movies!

60 Writers/60 Places “is about writers and their writing occupying untraditional spaces, everyday life, everywhere.” It’s a film of writers reading on subways and in laundromats and on baseball fields, and I found the trailers to be unexpectedly compelling. I will admit that I occasionally have a hard time paying attention at traditional readings, but the unusual settings here definitely helped hold my interest.

So who’s in it from harper perennial, you ask? There’s Jessica Anya Blau, author of The Summer of Naked Swim Parties, a coming-of-age fave. There’s Justin Taylor, author of the forthcoming provocative short story collection Everything Here is the Best Thing Ever. And there’s Blake Butler, who we discovered through a little site called fiftytwostories.com, where we’ve featured The Copy Family and The Gown from Mother’s Stomach. Blake is also featured in the trailer below, which is supremely awesome:

As is this one, though perhaps not for the faint of heart (don’t say I didn’t warn you—that’s Giancarlo DiTrapano, who I had never heard of before but will definitely check out now):

Also! There’s two screenings this weekend in New York City. Friday December 11 at Pratt and Saturday December 12 at PPOW Gallery. Hit up the site for more info.

the olive reader holiday grab bag: justin taylor

In our latest holiday grab bag post, Justin Taylor, author of Everything Here is the Best Thing Ever, a collection of short stories that is just as good as its title, shares a tale of Will Oldham, John the Baptist, E.C. Ball, and being a Jew on Christmas. Enjoy!

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to see Will Oldham and his two brothers (Ned and Paul) open for Hazel Dickens at Joe’s Pub. During the show, the Oldham brothers played two songs about John the Baptist, both covers, and both called “John the Baptist.” Not long after, I was lucky again, and got to interview Will. In the course of our conversation I asked him about the original versions of the two “John the Baptists.” One, he said, was by a guy named John Martyn and appeared on an album called “Stormbringer.” The other was by E.C. Ball. I picked up an album by each man, and got my original versions. The John Martyn album didn’t do much for me, but I fell right damn in love with E.C., and his wife Orna, one of the finer husband-wife gospel teams in the history of American folk music. I own as much E.C. Ball music as is publicly available for purchase, and at least one recording session that isn’t, but I’ve always wished for a recording of Will’s version of “John the Baptist.” You can imagine my extreme delight, then, when just two days ago I received an email from the great Nathan Salsburg—mastermind of the Twos & Fews imprint of Drag City, and, as it happens, the guy who organized those Oldham/Dickens shows. Nate’s note announced that “Face the Frowning World: An E.C. Ball Memorial Album” has just been released by the Tompkins Square label. It features, among other things, a Will Oldham version of E.C.‘s “John the Baptist.” I’m incredibly excited to see this album enter the world, and I look forward to spending a lot of time with it, as soon as I get my hands on it. It would be an absolute delight to wake up on Christmas Day and find this disc under my tree. Alas, since I don’t live with anyone likely to buy me a Christmas present, don’t have a tree, and am Jewish anyway, this delectable collection is probably going to end up being one of those gifts you give yourself. But hey, at least I won’t be disappointing me with socks.

Perhaps you, dear reader, have a folk music-loving, Christophile Jew in your own life. You can learn more about this record, including how to buy it for him, here.

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