The Mark Blog

Bookmark This: Favorite Cookbooks for Thanksgiving

This time next week, we'll be celebrating Thanksgiving. To arm you with delicious tools to make the day a success, the PEN Center USA staff has selected their favorite cookbooks. Here’s to gourmet treats!
Libby Flores:
The Homesick Texan’s Family Table: Lone Star Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours by Lisa Fain
“Every recipe makes me proud to be from Texas. Show up to a dinner party with one of these dishes, and everybody will start saying ‘y'all.’”
Grant Hutchins:
Counter Intelligence: Where to Eat in the Real Los Angeles by Jonathan Gold
“Restaurant recommendations for all moods and budgets in neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles. A necessity for the cooking-challenged Angeleno.”
Michelle Meyering:
The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters
The Art of Simple Food: The title says it all, really. Culinary badass Alice Waters encourages you to buy local, high-quality ingredients, and then teaches you how to cook those ingredients simply.”
Lilliam Rivera:
Puerto Rican Cookery by Carmen Aboy Validejuli
“This is an old school cookbook that features traditional criolla cooking. It’s a must.”
Geneva Skeen:
Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen
“Christians : Bible :: Vegetarians : The Moosewood Cookbook
Stacy Valis:
The Greens Cookbook: Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine from the Celebrated Restaurant by Deborah Madison

“It has the best black bean chili recipe in the universe, and you can add turkey to it, which is how it relates to Thanksgiving and its leftovers.”


Writers’ Reel: David Foster Wallace in Conversation

Listen to the late David Foster Wallace being interviewed by David Kipen in San Francisco for City Arts & Lectures in 2004. The in-depth audio clip covers many topics including his writing process, how he found solace in reading, and striving to reach his reader.
“I started reading very young, and one of the reasons I started reading very young was, for whatever reason, I was lonely. One of things I went to books for was a relationship.” – David Foster Wallace

Bookmark This: PEN Center USA Literary Awards!

If you missed out on PEN Center USA's 24th Annual Literary Awards Festival held this past Tuesday, you missed quite the literary party. The star-studded event not only celebrated great literature and freedom of speech, but also went on to raise $42,000. The Los Angeles Times did a great write-up on the event. 

“The PEN Center USA literary awards, as always, honored excellent writing and celebrated heroes of free speech on Tuesday. And host Aisha Tyler exercised it with a high-energy, highly profane commentary that kicked the event's energy up a notch.”

Writers’ Reel: Celebrating Mimi Pond, Winner of the Graphic Literature Award

Graphic novelist Mimi Pond will be presented with the 2014 PEN Center USA Graphic Literature Outstanding Body of Work at tonight's Literary Awards Festival. In anticipation of the event, we are featuring this great clip illustrated by Pond that details when she met her husband, painter Wayne White. 

“Yeah, I had nice things and I could cook. So I lured him into my lair.” – Mimi Pond

A Cartoon By Mimi Pond from mr brkly on Vimeo.

The Top Ten Books About Whistleblowers

Edward Snowden
PEN Center USA is highlighting the ten best books about whistleblowers. The current administration has been relentless in its legal pursuit of government whistleblowers. We worry that this unprecedented campaign may have a chilling effect on free speech in the United States. Check out some of the most influential and explosive books on the subject below.
1. No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald
PEN Center USA First Amendment Award winner Glenn Greenwald’s new book details the bombshell revelations he received about American surveillance practices from Edward Snowden. Buy it here.
2. State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration by James Risen
James Risen has been threatened with jail time for protecting the confidentiality of one of this book’s sources. You can purchase the book here. Read more about Risen’s situation on our Freedom to Write page here.
3. All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward
The definitive book on one of the biggest whistleblower stories of the 20th century, in which Bernstein and Woodward exposed the Watergate conspiracy with the help of an anonymous whistleblower nicknamed “Deep Throat.” Buy it here.
4. The Pentagon Papers leaked by Daniel Ellsberg
Ellsberg leaked these shocking government documents about the war in Vietnam, an action which caused him to be charged with conspiracy, espionage, and theft of government property. You can download them for free here.
5. Power Failure: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Enron by Mimi Swartz with Sherron Watkins
Watkins was a Vice President at the energy giant Enron when she discovered and exposed the accounting irregularities that would lead to the complete collapse of the corrupt business. Purchase a copy here.
6. No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller by Harry Markopolos
Markopolos discovered the massive Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. He spent years gathering evidence for the SEC, who routinely ignored his claims. More here.
7.  The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman’s Fight for Justice by Kathryn Bolkovac and Cari Lynn
Kathryn Bolkovac was a human rights investigator who discovered that her employer was involved in human trafficking and forced prostitution and exposed their misdeeds at great personal risk. Buy it here.
8. Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment by James H. Jones
This is the definitive history of the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, a horrific and unethical medical experiment performed on poor, black American sharecroppers. This shameful experiment was courageously exposed by Peter Buxtun, an employee of the Public Health Service who leaked information to the news media and helped end the program. Check it out.
9. The Whistleblowers: Exposing Corruption in Government & Industry by Myron Peretz Glazer and Penina Migdal Glazer
This is a compendium of the stories of 64 famous “ethical resisters,” as the authors call them, who shined a light on government and corporate misdeeds. Purchase the book here.
10. The Whistleblower’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What’s Right and Protecting Yourself
This is the ultimate legal guide to protecting yourself if you are thinking about becoming a whistleblower yourself. Buy it here.

Writers’ Reel: Three Apps To Spur Your Love of Poetry

The New York Times's App Smart columnist Kit Eaton reviews three apps that are great resources for writers. The Poetry Foundation app presents poems from their archives, while the Poet’s Pad will help you design a poem with features that include a rhyming dictionary. The iPad app of T. S. Eliot’s poem "The Waste Land" includes audio readings, videos, and annotations.

Click here to watch the video.



Bookmark This: Literary Halloween Costumes!

Today is Halloween, and if you are stumped about what to wear, the editors at Electric Literature have the perfect solution. They've compiled a gallery of famous authors in costume. From Susan Sontag in a bear costume to Norman Mailer as Stanford White in Ragtime, you can’t go wrong with these choices. Definitely skip Virginia Woolf's "royalty" costume, but check out F. Scott Fitzgerald in drag. Happy Halloween! 

Check it out.


Writers’ Reel: Nikki Giovanni On Healing Through Poetry

The New York Times has a great column called “The Read Around” that features brief video clips of authors, including this one with poet Nikki Giovanni. Her latest collection of poems is called Chasing Utopia and pays homage to her mother who passed away. Nikki speaks about the importance of a writer’s voice, the freedom of mixing genres, and finding solace in poetry.
“I think poetry prevents everybody from feeling lonely because you are talking to a voice. You are not talking to a character, you are not talking to a situation."

View the video here


Bookmark This: Where Should You Submit?

Fall is the perfect time to submit your short stories, poems, or novel excerpts to literary journals, as many of the magazines are open for submission. Instead of just sending out your work without a game plan, we’ve found a couple of great resources to help you start the process.

Top 50 Literary Magazines:
Why not aim for the top literary magazines? Besides giving a short overview of each journal, the site also states whether the journal accepts online submissions.

2014 Pushcart Prize Ranking of Literary Magazines:
Writer Clifford Garstang breaks down the literary magazines awarded the most Pushcart Prizes. This is a broad range of magazines to check out.

What literary magazine is missing from these lists? Chime in and let us know! 



Writers’ Reel: Is Literature Making You a Nicer Person?

Electric Literature posted a witty animated video named "The School of Life," which tries to answer the question, "what is literature for?" The video lists four major answers, including the facts that it makes a person nicer and it’s a cure for loneliness.

“We're weirder then we are allowed to admit. We often can’t say what’s really on our minds, but in books we find descriptions of who we genuinely are and what events are actually like with an honesty quite different from what ordinary conversation allows for.”