“If I can’t dance to it, it’s not my revolution.”
― Emma Goldman, anarchist, political activist, & writer
Here comes a remarkable trio of American writers who have dazzled generations of readers with their incomparable style!
Gertrude Stein, art collector and modernist extraordinaire, set out to “create the 20th century” with her pen just as her Cubist colleagues were doing with their paints and canvases. Truman Capote, ever the enfant terrible of American letters, revolutionized reportage and pioneered what he called the “non-fiction novel.” Joan Didion, with her stunning prose and riveting insight, forever changed the way we look at American society. And not only did these three write with style – they lived in style as well!
Stein’s salons on Saturday evenings were the toast of Paris, with a host of avant-garde artists and writers in attendance. Capote was the darling of the international jet set who became America’s most famous – and infamous – writer of his day. Didion and her author husband John Gregory Dunne rubbed elbows with the glitterati of Hollywood and New York for decades.
So join us as we read and discuss selections from their work that reflect their elegant and sophisticated style, on the page and in life – let’s joyfully celebrate together as we dance to their revolutionary words!
The group will meet on the first Sunday afternoon of each month from September through May at 2-3:30pm at the Athenæum (except for September and January, when we will meet on the second Sunday).
We will spend the year reading three selections by each of our three authors – dynamic personalities all, passionately devoted to their craft. The group facilitator will also suggest several short YouTube videos for viewing each month to enhance our reading experience. After opening remarks, lively monthly discussions are expected to ensue!
*VIRTUAL MEETING* Sun, September 12 | The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein
Sun, October 3
The Making of Americans, Dalkey Archive Edition, 1995, pp. 1 – 4 & pp. 288 – 293 (a few brief passages)
Selected Writings of Gertrude Stein, edited by Carl Van Vechten, Random House Edition, 1946
*Lecture: The Gradual Making of the Making of Americans, pp. 209 – 226 (A lecture by Gertrude Stein which includes additional passages from her novel)
*Three Portraits of Painters: Cezanne, Picasso, & Matisse, pp. 287 – 295
(Copies of October selections will be emailed by Facilitator to group members)
Sun, November 7 | Paris France by Gertrude Stein
Sun, December 5 | Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
Sun, January 9 | In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Sun, February 6 | Answered Prayers (the unfinished novel) by Truman Capote
Sun, March 6 | Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
Sun, April 3 | A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion
Sun, May 1 | The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Kip Brott earned his BA and MA degrees in art history from UCLA. He is an enthusiastic, lifelong reader and an unabashed devotee of stylish writing – and stylish living as well! Kip has been a member of several reading groups at the Athenæum over the past five years. This will be his first attempt at leading a group himself. He has worked hard to make the group a meaningful intellectual experience, with a smile on his face and the nagging words of French author Gustave Flaubert ever in mind, “One arrives at style only with atrocious effort, with fanatical and devoted stubbornness.”
Online registration will open to Athenæum members on Wednesday, July 28th at 8am. If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.