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Taking a Look at the Big Picture (23 Days Remaining!)

May 20, 2013 in American literature, Classic Literature, Classic Writers, Fiction, Kickstarter

It seems like The Great Gatsby is everywhere you look these days.  Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation has brought F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece to the mainstream once again and we are psyched to see Gatsby fever take hold.  While our Kickstarter project is coinciding with the release of the film, our project has been in the works for some time.  Our conception for a television series based on Literary Traveler’s website is much bigger than one book or one author alone.  We are starting with The Great Gatsby because it is one of the best, what has often been called “the great American novel.”  What better place to start our literary exploration than at the top?

We want to get inside the novel, explore the places important to the novel and important to Fitzgerald.  From Long Island to Louisville, New York City and Minnesota, we want to pay homage to Fitzgerald and take viewers on a tour of the places that influenced him both personally and professionally.  We will talk to experts, do our own investigating, and explore the highlights of each destination so that others can ultimately emulate our experience, or tailor-make their own.

The Great Gatsby serves as an entryway into this literary travel experience, but once the door is open it will provide an unending amount of possibilities. Each episode of Literary Traveler will be unique, taking viewers to different locations, viewing destinations through the lens of different authors and texts.  View the California coast from Jack Kerouac’s rearview mirror one week, see New Orleans from Tennessee William’s streetcar the next, and round out your month by exploring Maine through the work of Stephen King. The possibilities are endless and exciting.

Literary Traveler has been telling these fascinating stories online since 1998 and, with your help, we look forward to bringing our passion for literary travel to television.

We have done small-scale video projects in the past, exploring a variety of literary locals, from Thoreau’s Walden Pond to Ernest Hemingway’s Key West.  Check out these past excursions on our YouTube channel and please support us on Kickstarter.

We are so grateful and thankful to all of our generous backers during our first week. We appreciate every contribution and all of the efforts made by our supporters to spread awareness for our project. This week we are making a push to get some more press and additional visibility for the project, but we could use your help.

If you are interested in this project, but are unable to donate, there are plenty of ways to get involved.  Please help create visibility for this project by sharing it through personal connections or social media.  We are also looking for any press opportunities that could help us get the word out there to others as excited by literature and travel as we are.

Literary Traveler is LIVE on Kickstarter! (29 Days Remaining!)

May 14, 2013 in Fiction, Film, Kickstarter, Literary News, Special Events, Television, Travel to New York City

Dear Literary Travelers,

We are very excited to announce that we are officially LIVE on Kickstarter! Check out our Kickstarter page and be sure to watch our video for more information on this project.  It is sure to be an exciting month for us and we are so happy to have our loyal readers involved in the process.  We urge you to share the project with friends, family and anyone that you think might be interested in learning more about us!

Please check back here for updates on the project.  Throughout the next month, this blog will be Kickstarter central — a place for us to share our progress, ideas, project news and information on the future of the Literary Traveler series.

We are offering some incredible rewards to backers, including Literary Traveler t-shirts and an original art print by our own contributor, Jessica Monk.  We are also offering advanced access to the finished episode, before it becomes available to the general public.  Also, if you have your own blog or social media account, we are offering backers a special opportunity to be featured on LiteraryTraveler.com.  Check out the Kickstarter page for more on these rewards and other amazing incentives.

 

Literary Traveler to Bring Writers’ Journeys to Television

May 4, 2013 in American Authors, American literature, announcements, Classic Literature, Classic Writers, Literary News, Travel, Travel to New York City


Literary Traveler is excited to announce that we are turning our much-loved website into a series for television. We are passionate about the stories we tell, of authors’ lives and the places that inspire them.

Literary Traveler, the series, will be a new thirty-minute program that follows in the footsteps of classic and modern writers, to explore the inspiring places connected to literature’s most popular and acclaimed works, and to make meaning of the lives, struggles and triumphs of famous authors.

These unique stories are presented by visiting places important to the writer, and by taking unique journeys related to that writer’s life, revealing their experiences and inspirations. Each episode will include interviews with experts, popular writers and academic scholars on the writers profiled. We’ll highlight what the journey and places meant for each writer and discuss how viewers can visit locations featured in the program. We’ll also stop to explore interesting places along the way, immersing ourselves in the culture of a particular time and place, as we traverse the challenges the writers faced on their varied paths to success.

Currently we are producing a pilot episode.  We will go in search of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. An iconic novel of the Jazz Age, with settings that range from Louisville, to Long Island, to NYC, we believe that Gatsby provides the perfect entry point for our literary series.

In order to get this venture off the ground, we are taking the project to Kickstarter and asking our fellow literary travelers to help us finance this project. We are excited to launch our Kickstarter project this May, coincidentally corresponding with Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation of Fitzgerald’s classic. We want to take a deeper look behind this work and others, and at the places and experiences that contribute to each author’s journey.

Stay tuned for more on our Kickstarter and Literary Traveler, the series. Please join our mailing list to stay apprised of updates. And, as always, thank you for your support!

 

‘Girls’: HBO’s new comedy about ‘sex and the city’

August 14, 2012 in Comedy, New York Travel, Television, Women Writers

HBO’s new comedy, Girls,  has everything I look for in a television show.  It is smartly written, raucously witty and excruciatingly relatable.  It is a startlingly refreshing comedy in both its dry humor and acerbic social commentary. Yet, because its premise involves four single gals living in New York City, it has quickly drawn comparisons to HBO’s other female-centric comedy, Sex and the City.  While Girls  is clearly its own animal, the similarities are there. Take away the money, the clothes and the careers and it could be a prequel of sorts, had the SATC girls been twentysomethings in 2012.  Girls  is a self-deprecating un-photoshopped Sex and the City,  where pink cosmopolitans with perfectly curled lemon peel garnish are replaced with Solo cups of warm craft beer.

26-year-old Lena Dunham writes, directs and stars in the HBO comedy, produced by Judd Apatow of Bridesmaids  fame, which just finished its first season and is slated to return this winter.  Dunham graduated from Oberlin College with a degree in creative writing and first made waves with the independent film Tiny Furniture.

Discussing Girls  in a New York Times interview, Dunham said, “I get to look at so many aspects of what it means to be a woman, of what it means to live in an urban environment.”   While the shows are quite different and air over a decade apart, the same statement could have been made by the writers of Sex in the City  in 1998.

Girls  is very aware of the comparison and pokes fun at the association while simultaneously paying homage to their television predecessor.  Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) has a SATC  poster prominently displayed on the wall of her apartment, and refers to her cousin Jessa (Jemima Kirke) as “definitely a Carrie, with some Samantha aspects, and Miranda hair.”  It is clear to anyone watching, who had also been a fan of SATC,  that naïve and virginal Shoshanna is a Charlotte, and Jessa, who misses an appointment at the women’s health clinic to have sex in a bar bathroom, is most obviously a Samantha.  This makes the responsible and sometimes uptight Marnie (Allison Williams) the Miranda of the group and aptly leaves the main character Hannah to clumsily fill Carrie’s Manolo Blahniks.

At the same time that they accentuate it, the apparent similarities are paradoxically what expose the core differences of the two shows. Hannah is Carrie…in real life.  Hannah is all of us in real life.  Those of us who watched Sex and the City  related to the women’s relationship struggles, but most us didn’t have the closets or six pack abs to match.  Hannah is us, only funnier.  While Sex and the City  projects itself as older, wiser, and wearing better shoes, Girls  is its awkward, uncoordinated and downright hilarious younger sister.

One of the major tropes of SATC  was the rift between women in their twenties and women in their thirties.  In a season 2 episode, Samantha exclaims, “These girls in their twenties, they’re so spoiled and ungrateful, they think they’re it,” to which Miranda replies, “because the world validates their delusion.”  Girls  does not validate this delusion.  In fact, it exposes it. No one would choose to be in Hannah’s unemployed, financially insecure and emotionally unfulfilled shoes.  Yet many of us are, or were at one time.

While both shows expose embarrassing and relatable relationship issues, Girls  does not sugarcoat, or airbrush.  Miranda’s postpartum sex scenes (before she had dropped the baby weight)  look like a Cinemax late night feature when compared to Hannah and Adam’s self-conscious and uncomfortable to watch romp in the first episode of Girls.  Samantha’s slight ‘weight gain’ in the SATC movie, represented by the svelte actress wearing a pair of pants one size too small, is treated as something that needs to be addressed immediately.  Meanwhile on Girls, Adam grips Hannah’s stomach awkwardly in bed, causing average weighted women everywhere to cringe.

At the heart of both shows is a female writer using her own experiences as social commentary.  Both women grapple with insecurities and complicated relationships, all the while navigating life in the city.  Adam, Hannah’s pseudo-boyfriend, may not be Mr. Big, but he is equally emotionally distant and cryptically confusing, in need of immense examination and ripe for the analytic writer’s eye.  In one particularly hilarious turn of events, Marnie’s boyfriend gets his hands on Hannah’s notebook, in which she comments on the questionable state of their relationship. This causes problems for the couple and, after Hannah is forced to read aloud to them from her writing, she asks, “If you had read the essay and it wasn’t about you, do you think you would have liked it? Just as, like, a piece of writing?”

Hannah asks of Marnie and her boyfriend what Girls  asks of the viewer.  Its reflexive nature is constantly turning the gaze back on itself.  While we relate to the scenarios experienced by the characters, we are constantly bombarded with purposefully uncomfortable images, such as the aforementioned sex scenes between Hannah and Adam.  By doing so, Girls  exposes the reality that Sex and the City  glossed over with high fashion and well-placed puns.

In the first episode, Hannah tells her skeptical parents, “I don’t want to freak you out, but I think I may be the voice of my generation.”  If the first season of Girls  is any indication, she just might be.

*

Girls returns to HBO in January 2013.  In the meantime, if you are a fan of the show, experience NYC by taking a walk in the ladies’ shoes.  The Guardian has created a map, with pins marking the real locations used in filming.  Create your own New York Girls tour and see the city through the eyes of Hannah, Jessa, Shoshanna and Marnie. 

New Season Of Mad Men Returns To AMC

July 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

Image via AMCTV.com, Mad Men Official WebpageTimes, they are a-changin’.  At least, things are changing pretty rapidly for the characters of Mad Men, AMC’s hit drama about advertising executives. For those not in the know, the show, follows Don Draper and his lovely but seriously repressed wife (now ex-wife) Betty as they struggle to figure out where they belong in the ever-changing world of 1960s America.

Here at Literary Traveler we have quite a few Mad Men fans, and we suspect our readers have been similarly captivated by the critically-acclaimed series, which is on its fourth season.  The newest season begins on Sunday July 25th, at 10/9 central and I, for one, know exactly where I will be that night when ten p.m. rolls around.

It might seem strange that a blog devoted to literature and travel is covering a television series, but Mad Men is so rich with literary allusions – and is set in a time of such social and political turmoil – that we would be remiss to completely ignore it (plus, have I mentioned we’re fans?)  Last season, we saw Don leave Sterling Cooper to start his own firm, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the beginnings of Betty’s new marriage.  We also watched as the characters confronted the Civil Rights Movement and several began to experiment with drugs and the counterculture movement that has come to define our view of the 1960s. It was, in a word, epic.

To get ready for Mad Men season four, please be sure to check out our series by author Paul Millward.  First, read Flower Children of the 60’s & Ken Kesey, Father of LSD and Hippies before heading to Mad Men, Creating a Perfect World on the Avenue of Dreams. Both are essential reading for any true Mad Men fan.

And don’t forget to tune in Sunday to see where the Mad Men new season takes us!

Mad Men: Advertising, New York City, And The American Dream

March 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

Photo by Rainbow Media, AMC TV

We recently covered one aspect of 1960s society with our article on counter-culture and the influence of writer and merry prankster Ken Kesey.  This week we turn to AMC’s hit television show Mad Men to help illustrate another, more mainstream, side of the American coin.

A friend of mine once described  Mad Men as being about “nothing more than a bunch of white men drinking, smoking, and sleeping around.”  While this may appear true to a casual viewer – and certainly, much has been made of these less savory aspects of the series – Mad Men is about so much more than the characters’ vices.  It is at once an exploration of our culture of consumerism, a study of the lives of several representative characters, and a portrait of the rapid changes that shook America throughout the 1960s.

In our newest feature article, Paul Millward takes a look at advertising culture and the significance of the American dream, a phrase that has become so common that it has almost lost all meaning.  But with a little help from Mad Men and Millward, it becomes possible to see how advertising appeals to the same portion of the human psyche that is willing to invest in something like the American dream.  Consumer culture is only one type of wish fulfillment, yet it represents our near constant need to always seek out something more, something greater, something forever beyond our grasp.

If you’re anything like me, there is no such thing as too much Mad Men.  However, even a veteran watcher like myself can appreciate a new, fresh take on the much-discussed show, which is why I suggest you take a moment this week and read Millward’s ode to Don Draper, New York, and the dream merchants of the 1960s with his piece Mad Men: Creating a Perfect World on the Avenue of Dreams.

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