The conclusion of this season’s
The Artist’s Bookshelf
, a book club presented by the Walker Art Center and the Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library, takes place at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, September 1, at Walker Community Library, 2880 Hennepin Avenue South, Minneapolis. Author Haruki Murakami makes the final selection in this summer’s reading list: Cathedral by Raymond Carver. Published in 1983, this collection of short stories depicts a brighter side of American life than Carver’s earlier work as characters stumble through isolation into epiphanies revealed by day-to-day activities. Notorious Twin Cities portrait artist Frank Gaard leads a discussion of these tales and the connections between portraiture and literature. Admission is free.
Raymond Carver revitalized the short story form in the United States during the 1970s and 1980s. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, he moved to California and took up writing in the early 1960s. His 1974 collection Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? established his reputation and featured some of his trademarks: alcohol, poverty, and ordinary people in ordinary but desperate situations. Carver, who also taught writing and wrote poetry, has been called a “minimalist” because of his spare and realistic fiction, and has been compared to Ernest Hemingway and Anton Chekhov. In the late 1970s Carver was hospitalized four times for acute alcoholism. By the mid-1980s, he was sober, writing full-time, and married to the poet Tess Gallagher (it was his second marriage). He died at the age of 50 from lung cancer, and his last collection of stories, Where I’m Calling From, was published posthumously in 1989. His collections of poetry include Where Water Comes Together With Other Water (1985) and Ultramarine (1986).
Haruki Murakami, whose books The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and After the Quake were selected for the two previous installments of The Artist’s Bookshelf, is widely regarded as the most influential Japanese writer of his generation. The son of a literature teacher, Murakami learned English in school and grew up with American fiction. His first novel was published in 1970. He graduated from Waseda University in 1973, with a degree in drama, after which he managed a jazz and coffee shop. With the publication of his novel Norwegian Wood, Murakami became a cult phenomenon in Japan. He has lived all over the world, including Rome, Athens, and a Greek island, as well as spending four years at Princeton as a visiting fellow, where he wrote The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Murakami’s books are set in Japan, but they are infused with the urban, eclectic, Western culture he has absorbed all his life.
Frank Gaard was born and raised in Chicago. He moved to Minneapolis in 1969 and was a professor of fine arts at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design from 1969 until 1987. He was the creator and publisher of the legendary underground ’zine Artpolice (1974–1994), in which he blended cutting social criticism with a brutish drawing style often compared to that of comic artist R. Crumb. An information addict with a diagnostician’s exactitude for the pulses of politics and culture, Gaard draws from sources as varied as the entertainment industry, art history, and popular media, collapsing them into a fascinating jumble that exposes the dysfunctional ills of the world in which we live. Since the mid-1980s, he mainly has been creating portraits of family members, artist friends, and fictional characters. The Walker presented the Viewpoints exhibition Frank Gaard: Painting in 1980, and has several works by the artist in its permanent collection. Gaard’s billboard design Billboard Spectacle (In Memory of Guy Debord), part of the Walker’s ongoing Billboard Project, was on display in downtown Minneapolis May 15-July 14.
For discussion questions and an online forum on the book, visit www.walkerart.org.